Nestle Nigeria has celebrated this year’s International Youth Day by hosting an interactive session to explore opportunities for youth to create a path to their own success.  The annual International Youth Day provides the needed platform to find solutions to these challenges.

This year’s theme, “Safe spaces for youth”, highlights the importance of providing safe physical, emotional and digital spaces that harness the full potential of the youth to promote development. Speakers included Demola Sule, MD, Powerview Group, Oreva Ethel Ogubere, CEO of Auriela’s Basket, Nicole Simon Ogan, Hot FM Media Personality and Co-founder of Jist Couture and Bili Sule, VP, Partnerships and Innovation at Jumia.

During the session, the speakers shared their real-life experiences and practical tips for navigating successful careers. As Demola Sule, MD of Powerview Group said, “Only you can decide what to do with all the gifts you have. Identify what they are, and channel them accordingly”.

The role of Nestlé in providing opportunities for youth Nestlé, the world’s leading Food and Beverage Company, believes that communities cannot thrive if they cannot offer a future for younger generations. Therefore, In line with its purpose of “enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future”, the company is committed to help equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in any field of expertise or entrepreneurship of their choice under its global flagship programme, Nestlé Needs YOUth Initiative.

With one of the youngest populations in the world, Nigeria needs to positively harness the resourcefulness and ingenuity of over 50% of its population to accelerate economic development. The majority of young people lack skills acquisition and economic opportunities, which unfortunately results in the current high level of unemployment and the underutilization of young talents.

A March 2016 publication by the African Development Bank on Jobs for Youth in Africa indicates that, “of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed, another third are vulnerably employed and, only one in six is in wage employment”.

The company has set an ambition to help 10 million young people around the world have access to economic opportunities by 2030. Rémy Ejel, Market Head of Nestlé Central and West Africa (CWA) said, “By providing opportunities, developing and harnessing talents of young people, Nestlé can successfully contribute to building sustainable communities and spurring economic growth. This is one of the concrete ways Nestlé creates shared value for the company and for society”.

In Nigeria, Nestlé focuses on working with government, stakeholders and partners to help youth develop employability, entrepreneurship and agripreneurship skills. In 2017 alone, over 500 Nigerian Youths benefited from Nestlé Needs YOUth initiatives including career fairs, employability and technical skills development programs, internship as well as graduate and management trainee opportunities. Press Release Evans Obayayi, one of the speakers at the Youth Day celebration, is a beneficiary of one of such opportunities. He joined Nestlé as a graduate trainee in 2013 and in four years, has experienced upward career progression.

After his one-year traineeship, Evans became an Import Specialist in 2014 before the role of Import Coordinator in 2015. In 2017, he was promoted to head the Imports and Exports department, a position that he currently holds. Evans describes his time in Nestlé as an “exciting time, full of learning and growth”. Another beneficiary is Damilola Adeyemi who just completed her management traineeship. She is currently the Category Development Executive for Nescafé in Nigeria. Damilola describes the 21-month training as an “exhilarating period with room for development and learning”.

Nestlé also supports youth focused programs including Lagos State’s Ready, Set, Work (RSW), a skills acquisition initiative of the state’s Ministry of Education aimed at addressing skill gaps of graduates in order to address the graduate unemployment challenge in Lagos State. With over 80% of its agricultural and packaging raw materials currently sourced locally, a dynamic and sustainable agricultural eco-system plays a vital role in Nestlé’s value chain.

Attracting and developing skills of young people in agriculture is therefore a key objective for the company. It is estimated that less than 5% of farmers worldwide are under 35. To ensure a sustainable and sufficient food supply, more young people need to venture into agriculture.

To address this challenge, Nestlé Nigeria works alongside partners to inspire, train and enable young ‘agripreneurs.’ One of such initiatives was the partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture earlier this year to host a special Youth Session at the Businessday 2018 Agriculture and Food Security Summit focused on attracting and empowering youth in the agriculture value chain.

Nestlé Nigeria also proactively includes youth in its farmer capacity building programs. In 2017, Nestlé expanded its YOUth initiative to encompass its entire value chain – from operations and supply, to agriculture and innovation. Over the last decade the company has helped prepare hundreds of thousands of young people for work and is determined to do more by focusing on three key areas: Employment and employability, Agripreneurship and Entrepreneurship.

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