All of us or at least most of us have heard the message of taking one’s destiny in one’s own hands. Some of us even preach this to others. Unfortunately however, in practice, we do the opposite. After our national youth service year especially for those who are graduates, we wait for people to employ us and give us livelihood.
In what greater way can we place our destiny in other people’s hands when we allow them to determine our income level: when we are financially buoyant and when we are bankrupt; the taste of life we live and the quality of education our children receive; the level of prestige we enjoy and even the amount of time we spend with our family members and loved ones.
So, not only that we spend our very short lifetime building wealth for others, we simply catch cold when others sneeze. When they are tired of our services, we are thrown back into the labour market. What a glorified form of servitude or modern day slavery!
It is indeed high time we purged our minds of this restrictive mindset of always wanting to work in oil/gas and telecoms companies amongst other prestigious establishments built by other people. Besides, considering this so-called high-end establishment, the question is: were these not established by people like us? If these people were not courageous and determined enough, would we have these establishments grow up to enviable heights?
Many usually mention lack of access to funding as reason for the lethargy exhibited by young people 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 major 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 season three of the Youth enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) business plan competition corroborates this. 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 of such opportunities roll away almost unnoticed, and so, many bright Nigerian youths with sellable business ideas become frustrated due to lack of start-up funding.
The way forward in 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 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 (www.opportunitiesforafricans.com), SMEBizInfo (www.smebizinfo.com) amongst others also publish similar information.
Young people 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 YOUWIN, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), African Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), Diamond Bank BET Challenge, Bank of Industry Start-up Loan 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.