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Friday, May 24, 2024

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Growing Them Young

Enterprise Issues

With Siaka Momoh

Entrepreneurship challenge is one big challenge for our youth today – a challenge in the nation’s business space. Our youth must take up this challenge.

When Macron Called

It is for this reason that the trending news now in Nigeria, like in some metropolitan countries, is that the young ones should think entrepreneurship; it is for this reason too that government at all levels in Nigeria, as well as concerned Nigerians in the private sector today, drive our youth mad to think entrepreneurship.

 Youthful France President, Emmanuel Macron, was in Nigeria few years back on account of this. Macron came in and supported the Tony Elumelu’s  entrepreneurship programme for African youths. The French government signed a development finance agreement with Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, in Lagos, for development finance and entrepreneurship in Africa. French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced the deal during a talk show with nearly 2,000 TEF alumni during an exclusive interactive session.

It would be recalled that TEF set aside $100 million in 2015 for an entrepreneurship programme to train, mentor and fund 10,000 young entrepreneurs across Africa by 2024.

Announcing the deal, Macron said the programme was aimed at building on the current achievements of TEF across Africa. He noted that the collaboration between the French President and TEF is a result of President Macron’s recognition that African entrepreneurs are the key to Africa’s economic transformation and his desire to connect with and elevate the voices of future leaders.

 

Youth, creativity and innovation

The choice of youth for entrepreneurship is well placed because creativity and innovation, which entrepreneurship is, should, naturally be associated with the youth, with the young ones – people of school age or fresh graduates. Their age group is the segment of the demographic structure of a country that is considered vibrant, foresighted and inquisitive. One should therefore expect youths to go creativity and innovation.

It is good news that the ownership structure by age, of small enterprises in Nigeria, according to a National MSME Collaborative Survey, shows that the age bracket of 24-50 dominates. Hence youth entrepreneurs are dominant in Nigeria’s entrepreneurship space. We therefore expect Nigeria youth – fresh school graduates who are aspiring entrepreneurs and active entrepreneurs, many of whom are running courses in entrepreneurship in Pan Atlantic University’s Enterprise Development Centre, FATE Foundation, and in a few other entrepreneurship training institutions in and outside the country, to turn their creativity and innovation, that is, their dreams, to profit.

Innovation and creativity not synonyms

People tend to think innovation and creativity are synonyms. They are not. According to Paul Sloane, author of ‘Innovative Leader’, “Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual. Innovation is the implementation of something new. Invention is the creation of something that has never been made before and is recognized as the product of some unique insight.

He said further: “We tend to think of an innovation as a new product but you can innovate with a new process, method, business model, and partnership, route to market or marketing method. Indeed every aspect of your business operation is a candidate for innovation.”

And for Yuri Ijuri and Robert Lawrence Kuhn, in ‘New Directions in Creative and Innovative Management: Bridging Theory and Practice’,   “Innovation is people creating value by implementing new ideas. Innovation is turning creativity or idea into usefulness. Innovation is the process that transforms ideas into commercial value. The starting point for innovation is the generation of creative ideas. Innovation is the process of taking those ideas to market or to usefulness. Innovation is anything that provides a new perceived benefit to a customer or employee. Innovation concerns the search for and the discovery, experimentation, development, imitation and adoption of new products, new processes and new organizational set ups. Innovation is the conversion of knowledge and ideas into a benefit, which may be for commercial use or for the public good; the benefit may be new or improved products, processes or services.”

This is entrepreneurship. A project for the youth Macron and Elumelu are flaunting.

Case studies

Some case studies will help drive the message home:

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, born May 14, 1984, is an American computer programmer and internet entrepreneur. He is best known as one of five co-founders of the social networking site Facebook.  Zuckerberg is the chairman and chief executive of Facebook, Inc.

Born and raised in New York State, Zuckerberg took up writing software programmes as a hobby in middle school, beginning with BASIC, with help from his father and a tutor (who called him a “prodigy”). In high school, he was a highflier in classic literature and fencing while studying at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Zuckerberg later attended Harvard University, majoring in Computer Science and Psychology. In his sophomore year, he wrote a programme called Facemash as a “fun” project, letting students on the college’s network vote on other students’ photo attractiveness. It was shut down within days, but would become a template for his writing Facebook, a programme he launched from his dormitory room. With the help of friends, he took Facebook to other campuses nationwide and soon after, moved to Palo Alto, California. By 2007, Zuckerberg was a billionaire at the age of 23!

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