In the build up to the passing out ceremony for the 2015 Batch B corps members, the NYSC organized a Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme to educate outgoing corps members on issues such as “How to Overcome the Business Funding Challenge”, “Starting up and Managing Your Business Successfully” among others. Sadly, the programme was so poorly attended all over the country. On the contrary, tutorial centres training people on Resume writing made brisk business having had such huge patronage coming from these corps members. This clearly shows the apathy young people have towards entrepreneurship.
But the question is: why would young graduates choose to scout for unpredictable and non-existing jobs instead of taking their destinies in their own hands and embracing entrepreneurship which is a surer and more secured employment avenue?
In this regard, many young people always point to the overbearing business funding challenge as reason for the lethargy exhibited by them towards entrepreneurship. While this is correct to some extent, the truth rather is that lack of access to information on the many available funding opportunities remains the greatest factor inhibiting entrepreneurship among people.
Majority of youths especially graduates have business plans which they would execute if they could access adequate funding. At least the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is a strong testimony to this, having received over 24,000 applications for the $5,000 which the programme offers.
Even the season three of the Youth enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) business plan competition also indicates the plethora of business ideas our young people have. The competition, in 2014 received hundreds of thousands of excellently scripted business plans.
This was not only because the competition was giving out up to N10 million in grants to individual start-ups, but because it was heavily publicized through all media platforms especially the social media.
Unfortunately, the very many other opportunities where entrepreneurs can secure assistance towards financing their business idea, roll away almost totally unnoticed, and so, many bright Nigerian youths with sellable business ideas become frustrated due to huge business funding challenge they face.
The way out of this situation is for young people to always keep tabs with information on funding opportunities for start-ups and perhaps, draw up a calendar for such opportunities. In this regard, there are many blogs that advertise some of these opportunities.
For example, Entrepreneurs’ Square (www.entrepreneurssquare.com) regularly publishes posts on opportunities for start-up funding, entrepreneurship mentoring and business development. Other blogs like Opportunities for Africans and SMEBizInfo amongst others also publish similar information.
Young prospective entrepreneurs should regularly visit these among other similar sites including their social media links and subscribe to their newsletters so that they can receive regular updates in their email inboxes. This way, they will have access to these pieces of information long before the deadline for submission of applications.
As a reminder, youths should always be on the look-out for annual start-up funding opportunities like Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), African Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), Diamond Bank BET Challenge, Bank of Industry Youth Entrepreneurship Support etc.
Since we know that opportunity favours the prepared mind, or better put, luck is opportunity meeting preparation, all prospective entrepreneurs should at all times have at least a well scripted business plan since submission period for some opportunities might be too short for one to develop a winning business plan.
If we take these to heart and implement them, the challenge of securing funding for our business ideas will be overcome and Nigeria’s huge population will represent huge market and by extension, enormous wealth for us all.
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