• Saturday, July 20, 2024
businessday logo


Business leaders demand urgent mentorship model for Rivers youth entrepreneurs

Business leaders demand urgent mentorship model for Rivers youth entrepreneurs

…To turn youths back to correct entrepreneurship practice

…As PH City Chamber, Rivers Finance Agency, and others join hands for SMEs

Business leaders and experts have demanded for establishment of a mentorship model for young people in Rivers State to lead them back to sustainable entrepreneurship and sound business paths.

This is as the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) has joined hands with the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency (RIMA) and active participation of the state’s Ministry of Youth Development and many non-governmental organisations and companies to plot a roadmap for the small and medium enterprises.

Most business leaders who dropped intelligence at the event which took place at the new PHCCIMA secretariat in Port Harcourt on Thursday, June 27, 2024, said everything must be done to create the mentorship model or to bring it back. Some said it was there in the past but needed to be brought back with strong government backing and funding.

The PHCCIMA is led as president by a monarch and successful entrepreneur, Mike Elechi, but top business leaders who spoke at the event include Ibifiri Bobmanuel of Bobtrack Tractor Limited (who is president of the Rivers Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum, REIF); Edughom Hanson of Wider Perspectives; Uche Aniche of StartUpSouth; Wale Ibinaiye of CAD Consulting; Pacqueens Irabor of Bank of Industry; Jonathan Tobin of RIMA; and Mercy Bello Abu, Certified Management and Business Consultant.

The man who kicked off the case of mentorship, the CEO of RIMA, Jonathan Tobin, a pastor, made it clear that mentorship must be made compulsory in Rivers State by adopting the South-East model where most young people join a master after school and train under him for many years until they become experts in any business guild or sector.

He said most young people who want to become entrepreneurs only seek funds without any idea what to do with the funds, not knowing that character and capacity would be more needed than capital.

The Commissioner for Youth Development, Chisom Kenneth Gbali, supported the case for mentorship and revealed the establishment of a business incubation centre to begin the task of training young people and placing them under mentors.

In his speech, Bobmanuel of Bobtrack said SME is the future of Rivers State but made a case for the nona sector of the economy made of up mostly traders.

He said they are the ones that have grown into small and medium businesses that most governments chase about, saying the SME segment contributes over 80% to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria.

He narrated stories that showed that most big business people began as nano business people and that most countries intentionally create a pathway for their growth with training, guidance, funding, incentives, tax waivers, and timed targets for growth.

On his own, Aniche of StartUpSouth helped the audience to understand the StartUp Act of 2023 saying it has laid the rest of the conflicting definitions of what a startup was. He said it must be new but must be created to leverage technology to scale, without which the business would be a mere SME. He showed how startups can gain from the Act.

The chairman of the PHCCIMA SME sector, Hanson of Wider Perspectives. Showed why the City Chamber staged the forum and how working with others would help push the fortunes of SMEs. Her firm does that as a duty around the south-south and east.

The president of PHCCIMA, Elechi, welcomed guests and encouraged SMEs to take the economy seriously and to work together. He talked about government collaboration and how Rivers State was ready for an economic boom if the expected policies were implemented in the SME space.