…says skills deficit, make Nigerian youths unemployable
By Ebunoluwa Sessou
Guy Futi is the Managing Director, Jumia Foods. In this chat with WO, he speaks on the need for youths to be skillfully engaged aside formal education acquired in schools as a way to tackle poverty and joblessness in the society. According to him, it is not enough to go to school but to get the right skills that will carry them through in life.
What is the ratio of male to female employees in your company?
I do not know the exact figure. But, I believe, there are more females than males and it depends on the function, role, education and experience and we try as much as possible to make it across board.
The sections range from customer service, to project development, project management, marketing, operations, finance, accountant management, basic development, technology, design and engineering. It depends on what you are targeting and it is full scope.
There are more female youths than men with laptops working, tell us how Jumia has been able to engage these youths.
Jumia hire young people between the ages of 18 and 30 years. They are either people that are on internship or those who just finished NYSC or people that are excited with technology. The youths have demonstrated their strengths towards social media and electronics and it is natural that as an entrepreneurial company, we will hire young people.
There are reports that Nigerian youths are unemployable, what is your take on this and how would you advise the Federal Government from your experience?
I recognise that Nigeria is a complex place to manage or administer and design policies so, that is the only one role that I would recommend to anyone to try and that would have been my major focus if I am to work in government.
I do not believe that there is lack of jobs. I do believe that there is skills deficit. And it is really up to the education system, the government as well as companies such as Jumia to take it upon themselves to skill up people. You can see that there is barely enough seats for talents that we are grooming. We have challenges recruiting like most companies and from my perception, the challenge is trying to find the right skills among other features.
Perhaps, government can look for ways to design policies that would encourage students to start from the onset. Government must make the students participate in group projects, internships, apprenticeships, presentation skills, teaching and accountability from the early stage, those are the values I would recommend.
As a young entrepreneur, could you share your experience, how you started?
I have been an entrepreneur forever. I was the guy in high school that used to sell CD players before I-phones invention. I had CD and computer. I used to download music into CDs and then sell to my classmates. Every day, they would ask me what music I had. After a while, I was going to the market to buy CDs and download music and sell.
Through that, I was able to buy my first car. I was doing it every night and when I got to the university, I started throwing parties and then I was doing that for charity organisations. I knew there were thousands of charity organisations on campus and I also knew that university students like parties, so, I saw an opportunity. I saw that charities need money and students like parties.
So, I approached the charity organisations asking them to let me throw parties for them and then they keep all the money for the tickets while I get a place. I then found a bar or restaurant and tell them that I was going to bring 300 people. All I wanted from them was to give me 15 per cent of all the drinks that they would sell and secondly, anybody that comes in, I keep the money. I was doing that for restaurants on Wednesday and Thursday nights and so, I did it while in the university; it was very successful and that was how I was able to pay my school fees.
After then, I got a job in a bank, and I did not like it at all. I was in charge of commercial lending for businesses and corporate firms. I decided that I will quit but my mother did not like it. But, I quit the job and started my own company. It was a bottled water company and the scope of the business expanded because there were many clients.
Since then, I never looked back. I have always been an entrepreneur, although I am working for a company as an entrepreneur now. I got the job because someone looked at my resume, I did not know anybody in Jumia. I went through interviews and case studies. I am very lucky because I have been an entrepreneur since I was 14 years. I have a passion for it and I develop skills for businesses. I have also studied and built my life around it.
Do what you love
I would tell people, especially the youths to do what they are good at. If you are good at something, keep doing it and getting better. You are only going to keep learning. If you do what you love and be passionate, sooner or later, you will be rich. If you are driving cars, drive it. As you can see, I have been doing this since I was 14 years old and that is a long time.