A point well known in development circles and in the general arena of wisdom and wise sayings depicts that giving a man fish amounts to feed him for a day. But when you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
And it can be argued, and rightly too, that everybody knows that there is a time to feed people so they can just survive and be able to live another day, but that is not, in the long run, and not sustainable.
Sustainability comes from marketable expertise that can keep putting food on the table day after day, expertise or knowledge that is transferable to future generations.
According to ‘Worldometer’, a reference website that provides counters and real-time statistics for diverse topics, as of August 25, 2022 Nigeria’s population stood at 217, 079, 601. Of this number, youth account for fully 70 percent – 151 million. And 42 percent of that 70 percent are under the age of 15.
Obviously, most of these youth are burning with ambitions to make something of themselves and their generation. The youth need financial independence, and the ability to drive their own lives based on the big dreams they have been incubating for entrepreneurial success. They really want to ‘blow’ based on a proven system that works.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s socio-economic terrain is a tough one, hence, these youths are in dire need of enabling platforms to navigate the murky waters of aligning their potential and passion to leading their dream lives and being sure they walk guided.
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Little wonder Seplat Energy Plc, a leading Nigerian energy company saw the need to step in and harness the potential of these youths through its Conversation for Change (C4C) initiative.
The gap in guidance, systems orientation and education prompted the company to jump in alongside C4C to make adequate provisions that meet those needs.
The Seplat Energy C4C initiative is one of the many ways the company is driving its cravings for a progressive youth population.
Hence, teaming up with C4C, a non-governmental organisation, the company launched and has sustained the C4C-Seplat Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship Programme to harness the potential of Nigeria’s youth and make them indeed agents of change in their families and the country at large.
Friday, December 16, 2022 was the culmination of this effort for 22 young people who graduated from the Seplat Energy and Conversations 4 Change Youth Entrepreneurship Programme as seen beaming their pride and hopes in broad smiles.
Through the firm’s initiative, these graduates’ lives were transformed and hope inculcated in them, hence, they were abuzz with excitement, and the ignited dreams of these youngsters shone and lit up the whole place.
Those 22 ambitious youths who had successfully scaled the daunting process of the Business Plans presentation of the 2022 C4C Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship Programme, were on that day given their marching orders, and provisions based on their proposals to ensure that the burgeoning dreams they had had for some time would come alive, and be guided via financial and mentorship leverage to success.
What a way to end a year, and project into another year. Though these youngsters still have a long way to go, and lots of ground to cover, one thing certain is that they had hit a major milestone in the individual ideations of their future.
Chioma Nwachuku, the director of external affairs and sustainability, at Seplat Energy, who was on the ground to witness the graduates’ business plans presentations applauded the young entrepreneurs and C4C, and reiterated that the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme aligned with one of the five pillars of the firm’s corporate social responsibility.
“You are indeed equipped for your next phase in your various enterprises. Thanks to C4C and to Seplat Energy for enriching you with the knowledge and competencies you need to grow your business. The greater appreciation and kudos, however, goes to you, for having the capacity to establish your striving enterprise.
“Congratulations dear C4C-Seplat Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship Programme 2022 graduates!
“We are happy at Seplat Energy to play a big role in changing the narrative of the Nigerian Youth. You are no longer the leaders of tomorrow; rather, with the empowerment you have received over the years, you are the change agent of your generation.
“We are quite elated with the level of creativity and passion you all exhibited and truly, the sky will not be your limit,” Nwachukwu noted.
Furthermore, Nwachukwu explained that empowerment is one of the strong pillars of the company in addressing social challenges in Nigeria, particularly that of Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 8 on no poverty, zero hunger and decent work and economic growth.
“We believe that as soon as these critical SDGs are addressed, other things will follow.
“In this regard, we felicitate also with Conversations for Change, our visionary partners on this journey for a great job well done. Dear 2022 graduates, we have great confidence in your ability to further excel. Congratulations, and we pray for your continued success,” she said.
The beneficiaries were ideally equipped to begin their business empires, which are expected to grow and flourish as well as provide support to not just themselves and their families, but also for communities, countries and indeed the world.
The vision of the C4C-Seplat Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship Programme is tailored to create a world where young minds are inspired, motivated and empowered to find their niche in society and use their skills and talents in improving their societies and indeed their world.
In doing this, day-to-day items and wastes are converted to wealth, thus promoting a sustainable world.
Roger Brown, the chief executive officer of Seplat Energy Plc, had earlier pointed this out while describing the C4C-Seplat Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship Programme as “a long-term effort to invest in the next generation of leaders, through creating a vibrant platform for continuing information provision, dialogue, and discussions.”
Besides, he explained that through these and other strategies, the initiative would inspire, encourage and support young people to become active partners in the development and leadership of their communities, societies, nations and indeed the world.
A proven fact is that when a corporate organisation decides on empowerment as a way of expressing its corporate social responsibility ethos, its immediate and wider communities derive greater value from the very act of goodwill dispensed and thereafter from the output of the individuals being put to work under guidance for greater results.
At the heart of all of this is the idea of sustainability, of devolution of development, that is to say, it is not up to the government alone, but rather one for organisations with proven capacity for adding value to communities.
It is also about devolution of development in the sense that those who are today empowered will in turn empower others with the knowledge and resources that their own empowerment avails them.
Seplat Energy and its partner C4C are doing for the young people of Nigeria what they have yearned and longed for all these many years. One has no doubt that competition is keen for slots in theprogramme.
Opportunities like this are limited despite the abundance of ideas and the drive required to push those ideas.
The two critical things usually lacking are the financial enablement to get the dream off the ground and tested knowledge which if applied is capable of keeping businesses running and profitable.
A good number of young Nigerians take theplunge anyhow with a good dose of faith and hope, (and sometimes hype),believing that they have the innate resilience to pull through the inevitable headwinds entrepreneurs usually run into.
This is, sadly, hardly ever the case. The mortality rate for MSMEs is massive. It is estimated that 96 percent of businesses fail after 10 years in Nigeria.
But with entrepreneurship programmes such as Seplat’s, there’s a greater certainty that businesses and managers can improve and gain operational efficiencies which enable their business longevity.
The empowered entrepreneurs and their areas of business are Oluyemi Oyinleye (Café business); Pauline Musa (Catering); Maryam Musa (Spices); Mary Oteikwu (Fish drying); Justin Agbo (Fashion); Joseph Agu (Fashion); Chizoba Okolo (Fashion/fabric sales); Adebola Olamide Greatness (Fashion); Regina Etuka (Fashion); Blessing Gabriel (Bag making); Princess Esther Samuel (Shoemaking); and Emmanuel Ogwuche (Footwear).
Others are Nancy Otokina (Confectionaries); Adeola Samuel (Confectionaries); Gladys Emuh; (Agro-processing); Patience Sunday (Palm oil production); Brume Aina (Herbal skincare); Bright Bello (Salon & Spa); Ogechi Iwuanyanwu (Plants & Flowers); Olufunbi Akinyemi (Gift curator); Benedict Gabriel (Photography); and Stephen Ahor (Laundry services).
While congratulating the latest graduands of the C4C-Seplat Energy Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship Programme, the hope is that their endeavours will benefit maximally and sustainably from this initiative. That would be the only way to repay the favour done by Seplat Energy.