“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet, I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”
– Og Mandino
One of the unsavoury indices of most African economies is the level of youth employment.
Nigeria for instance skirts around 30-50 per cent figure of unemployed youths.
It’s no surprise the level of restiveness, and social upheavals, being experienced in African countries, given these staggering figures of youth unemployment.
At the moment, Nigeria’s economy is in recession, and this portends an ugly horizon for the peace and stability of the nation.
Yet, there are huge untapped economic prospects trapped in Nigeria’s people’s resources. Given the market dynamics of numbers, Nigeria has nearly 200 million people, making it the most populated black nation on earth.
Nigeria has long fixated on the narrow possibilities of government creating jobs for at least 80 per cent of its teeming youths.
This is in itself a narrow expectation, knowing that youths between the ages of 19 and 30, make up nearly 35 per cent of the nation’s population, a Herculean task to have all of them fit into the job stable of the government.
Private businesses in developed nations account for up to 50 per cent or more of the job statistic. In 2014, alone there were nearly 200,000 business ideas, sparked by several business upstarts in California alone.
There is apparent lack of enabling environment in Nigeria coupled with harsh financial climate, making start-up capitals difficult to access. Government claims of funding start-ups are likely to be political rhetoric.
Why are young people in the developed climes not queuing up for jobs as it’s the norm in developing countries like Africa?
There is certainly a broad scheme within the educational system of the developed world that encourages the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Business education has been made an integral part of the learning architecture in these climes, and pupils, especially the young minds, are exposed to the desirability and prospects of becoming an entrepreneur.
What more can we do?
Entrepreneurship should be taught as a creative tool, and made to become a natural option in the economic and vocational life of the people.
Africa’s curriculum must begin to incorporate business education into its modes of learning, and should encourage its young talented innovators by offering them opportunities to harness their creative potential. Major scholarships should go into jump-starting star innovators to further grow their talents.
Nigeria at the moment presents an array of opportunities for grassroots entrepreneurship to flourish. Looking inwards has the prime advantage of pricking ones inner curiosity and creative audacity.
Young people like Steve Jobs who was a college dropout, would find this kind of unpalatable economic situation as a stimulus for creative expressions. The following questions may likely to confront the young Nigerian marooned by the stark deprivation in his clime:
How do I raise the initial start-up capital? Does Nigeria have market for my invention? Business proposal? How should I pitch my proposal or ideas to be heard to gain the required intervening audience?
Before these questions come to the fore, as pragmatic as they are, how many Nigerian youths have really sat down to think? The social system the Nigerian youths found themselves in is one that negates the attitude of critical thinking.
Politicians and the power elite of the 80s and 90s up until 21stcentury, in their search for power, infiltrated the innocence of youths and lured them into the seductive syndrome of quick wealth and free money.
The frustrations some of our youths suffer from today stem from the utopia and illusions of “free lunch”, which no longer and does not exist anywhere. There is nowhere in the world where anything is free.
Corruption and the bungled social system in Nigeria entrenched a false class structure whereby street urchins and political surrogates could break into the corridors of power and become rich overnight. The world’s richest innovator, Steve Jobs, captured the paradigm of resourcefulness and hard work in his epic quote; “Beneath the covers of an overnight success story you see a lot of years, a lot of hard work.”
The outcome and backlash of the unwholesome “money syndrome” in Nigeria is the emergence of an army of youths who saw quick wealth and the trappings of cheap money as symbols of success. This social bug ate away the inventive aptitude and capacities of many youths and deprived Nigeria the depth, mental discipline, cultural virtues and the creative latitude of its most active population band.
The asymmetric wealth distribution between politicians, their acolytes, and the masses created the social tension and unrest, which now and every often pushes the youths to the tip of acquisitive ambitions.
Nigerian youths in their desperation have funnelled their innate inventiveness into violent crimes, an energy that could be drop-forged into kinetic economic asset.
With the gradual disappearance of free money, patronage, largesse, and a recession-hit economy, there’s a fair degree of economic expectation that the gap between the very rich and the very poor closes up a bit- and that is the band where youth entrepreneurship could be optimised.
Hunger and squalid poverty are a potent enemy to creativity. Yet, as uninspiring as the Nigerian climate is at the moment, as a start, any youth desiring of a great future ahead of him or her, should have a think, what can I do with what I have, and should I have an opportunity to pitch for my dreams what would they be?
“When preparation meets with opportunity that is success”-Ophray Winfrey