By Josephine Agbonkhese
A business blogger, social marketer and entrepreneur, Lily Odior-Diyemowei is Chief Executive Officer, Hustlersquare. In this interview, the ex-banker who is also into philanthropy, speaks on investment as solution to unemployment. She also reveals why she is called the ‘Jagaban of Instagram’.
How did you earn the name ‘Jagaban of Instagram’?
That name came as a result of my track record as a business and brand influencer in Nigeria. A lot of corporate organisations, business owners and individuals have greatly benefitted from my influence on Instagram—one which has helped to grow their followers tremendously.
What is your view on the current rate of unemployment in the country?
Unemployment has become like an epidemic that is ravaging the youths of today. There are little or no jobs for graduates. More graduates enter the labour market yearly without adequate provision for jobs. This is really pathetic.
How do you think graduate unemployment can be addressed?
A regular entrepreneur employs three to five persons on the average. What we need to do is to promote and support entrepreneurs who, in turn, will create jobs for graduates. That is to say once all the factors in the economy favour the entrepreneur and his business flourishes, he is likely to expand; which means he will need more hands which also leads to job creation.
What role do you think entrepreneurship could play in this regard?
Entrepreneurs are the latest employers of labour. They are the fastest way through which the rate of unemployment can be reduced drastically. They just need the right support. Entrepreneurs employ extra hands all the time. As they grow/expand they will employ more graduates, thereby reducing the rate of unemployment. The focus here should be on how to make entrepreneurs grow so that they in turn can help reduce the state of unemployment in Nigeria.
What the biggest opportunity you would say is available to unemployed youths right now?
The online space is the largest hustling ground now. Millions of naira exchange hands daily. The unemployed youth can tap into this. People seldom visit physical stores; they prefer to shop online. The unemployed youth can tap into this mega opportunity and change his status overnight.
What is your opinion on government’s empowerment programmes like the ones handled by the Bank of Industry?
They are all awesome programmes but can barely reach a lot of entrepreneurs. They are not enough to go round. So, a lot of entrepreneurs are still financially stranded.
How do you see government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians from poverty?
We can’t wait to see that come to fruition- if it will ever come. You will recall that first it was Vision 2010, then they moved to 2020. We hope it doesn’t shift to 2030. We are indeed very hopeful. All things are possible with the right strategies in place. The large army of youth unemployment is intimidating.
How do you see the Trademoni programme where government gives N10, 000 to petty traders?
10,000 naira can do a lot for a petty trader, so I applaud that move. But a regular entrepreneur would need much more than that. So I suggest that more schemes that can help the entrepreneur be introduced.
What is your social life like?
I love to dance Salsa. I do that virtually every evening. That is the only way I remain sane with all the hustling and bustling going on around me. As an influencer, the need to constantly be online can be overwhelming and make you stay at a spot most times while you are working. It takes conscious efforts to socialise and attend events. That is where delegating duties comes in. I have a team that handles some of my duties as the Jagaban of Instagram so that I don’t remain sedentary. I am intentional about my social life, so I make it count.
How do you relax?
I go on vacation outside the country every three to four months and for brain reset.
What is your fashion sense?
I love business casuals always with a touch of red. I love to dress down too. They say beauty is pain but I would rather not experience that pain. Give me my comfort instead.
How do you think?
I do not expect the best from people. So I am never surprised or disappointed when people fail me or let down my trust in them. I always expect the worst from anyone. Humans are flawed so I constantly give room for people to act human. Nothing surprises or shocks me.
You seem to love dancing. Why and what types of dancing? Are you part of any dance club and why?
Yes, I really do love to dance. I dance Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba and Merengue. I dance with the Dance and Art Alive team. Dancing for me serves as both workout and also for pleasure.
Are you also involved in humanitarian activities?
Yes, I visit the less privileged regularly and I am also involved in helping school children with back- to-school items. Recently, we distributed writing materials and back to school bags to over 100 indigent pupils and students in Obalende, Lagos.
The bags contained textbooks, notebooks and writing materials. They were given as part of activities to enable them to resume classes and focus on their studies without tears.
The event was attended by excited parents and teachers alike. Every child deserves to have the basic things they need to comfortably go to school. I decided to do my own quota to make the world a better place for them.
We were moved by the needs of the children and their parents in the face of current economic hardship. One of the parents of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Philomena Bassey, commended us for our wonderful works because the gifts were timely and met the needs of the children, who were very excited to receive the items.
Last year, we fed and clothed about 1,000 children including beggars, physically and mentally challenged people under our ‘Feed a Child Today’ programme which held at the Internally Displaced Peoples’ camp in Ebute Meta, Lagos. A lot of children are going through hardship. I feel bad about this because they were not asked to be born. Ironically, those in authorities pay little or no attention to our children’s future. We all can do better by helping the indigent children in our environment”
You are into real estate development too…
I am a partner with PWAN Homes. I market and sell lands and properties for them. I also encourage my others to invest in same because real estate appreciates with time and is a source of dependable income.