• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Catholic Church of divine mercy and unusual entrepreneurs

Catholic Church of Divine Mercy (CCDM)

The sound of entrepreneurship is blaring very loud and clear in Nigeria. It is helping to douse the noise in the heads of so many, who have nothing to do or do not know what to do. For too long, many Nigerians have been structured to the periphery of their national economy, where they have endured the loud sound of lack and the absence of hope. Now, it seems like enough is enough and they are ready to resist the voice of melancholy, and to chart new directions through entrepreneurship.

Although we have always been enterprising, I am not sure we have devoted this much time and other resources, to prepare young entrepreneurs, as we are doing currently. What with the many seminars and gifting sessions, exhibitions and competitions going on in different parts of the country, all aimed at discovering and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth, in particular, and our people in general. Books are being presented, even as we acknowledge that reading is no longer the high passion of many. The trend is rising, especially when we find that most of these events are sponsored and bankrolled by the private sector and non-profits, including the Church.

The Catholic Church of Divine Mercy (CCDM), in the opulent Lekki area of Lagos has been in the forefront of this new drive towards youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship development. For the second year in a row, it organised one of such events tagged the Unusual Entrepreneur, as part of its annual Unusual Praise musical event. Last week, it held a seminar, which provided a platform for very distinguished entrepreneurs, intellectuals and very successful business people to speak with over 600 youths on different aspects of entrepreneurship. At the end of the sessions, 251 participants, selected from every Catholic Church in Lagos, and some non-Catholic denominations, won prices ranging from N50,000 to N1 million. Indeed, there were three star prices of N1million each. The participants had competed on various aspects of company formation, including the preparation of Feasibility Studies for starting a business. The event climaxed with the annul Unusual Praise Christian musical concert that drew Gospel music stars from far and near.

The event was actually spectacular touching on some keys lesson. Although the CCDM provided all the funds and logistics for the competition, only one of its members won a price, and it was not among the star prices. This speaks to the lesson of integrity – one good for Nigerian leaders and corruption fighters.

That alone warrants some clap offering to Monsignor Nwaezeapu, the self-effacing spirit-filled Parish Priest who is behind the wave of transformation happening in the CCDM and indeed, the entire Lekki axis of the Archdiocese of Lagos, where he is planting churches, retreat centres and schools, in every open space he could afford. We seek social interventions like this.

They have done great things that are impacting the society more than the multibillion political social intervention programmes going on in many states. Those of us to whom they have assigned some of the youths to mentor, even from last year’s winners, feel proud and obliged. It is my hope that the mentors will not subsume the learning and hand-holding needs of these young people under our piles of never-ending work, especially as mentees increase in number.

Another important lesson is that all the three star prices of N1m each were won by women! There was no question of gender sensitivity or soft landing for anybody. All participants were given equal opportunity but the men fizzled out before those three Amazons. It shows that the women are coming for us. It is good that the Church is in the forefront of this equal opportunity effort. It is in line with the rising fervour of evangelism in the CCDM.

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We must now emphasise the mentoring aspect of this great event. Mentoring, according to The Economist Magazine and Tim Hindle (author of Management Ideas and Gurus) “is a relationship between two people in which one of them offers advice and guidance to help the other develop in a particular area”. It is an age-old phenomenon, practiced world-wide in the Arts, particularly music and painting, where mentees have sad at the foot of the Masters to drink from the wellspring of their masterly knowledge. The CCDM under Monsignor Nwaezeapu is therefore giving a good gift to humanity by promoting this tradition, within the spiritual framework of honesty and integrity.

It may be time for us to also insist on best practice and the attribution of recognition to what works. One inalienable benefit of the First Industrial Revolution is that nobody needs to reinvent the Wheel.

As we begin to properly organise the finer aspects of certain parts of our national life, it may be time for us to also insist on best practice and the attribution of recognition to what works. One inalienable benefit of the First Industrial Revolution is that nobody needs to reinvent the Wheel. It is there to be used, copied and adapted or modified. And it doesn’t matter that some people are already on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while others are yet to accept the culture of industry, to say nothing about understanding it. We must go for standards and best practice.

I suppose that once we have properly and successfully set up an enterprise, the next thing is to also run it properly and successfully. It is time therefore for us to learn from those who succeeded in what we are trying to do. One such people are the Japanese who have used technology to neutralise their natural resource deficit. Even in North America, with all its prolific innovators and technological progress, having a Japanese car in the garage is probably the rule rather than the exception.

Some of us may have come across the story of a Toyota executive whose duty it was to re-engineer the Toyota Sienna car, for the export markets of North America. The gentleman began by getting out of his office and into a Sienna car, for a drive through several cities in the United States of America, covering 53,000 miles, and recording every observation he made of the car in motion. That cross-country ride gave the engineer, Yuji Yokoya, a personal experience of the behaviour of the Sienna, under all kinds of road and weather conditions. The result was a new Toyota Sienna minivan that was not only more stable on rough road but also very child-friendly and capable of serving as a living accommodation for extended stay for a family with children. The Japanese call that approach to management, Genchi Genbutsu. It means rolling up one’s sleeves and going to the scene of the event, known in Japanese as the gemba. Those to be mentored are now at the scene of event. They must stoop low and focus on learning from their mentors.

The CCDM has taken mentoring and hand-holding a step further than just sharing of experiences. By contributing capital for the youth to start their own businesses, while being mentored, the church has given them a big push forward. While speaking to the participants at the Unusual Entrepreneur seminar last week, I reminded them of the need to learn the modern habit or record-keeping so as not to mistake sales for profit – a major cause of high  infant mortality in business.