To tackle rising unemployment rate among teeming Nigerian youths, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has empowered about 65 potential entrepreneurs with the requisite skills needed to remain successful and profitable while doing business in the country.
Indeed, the chamber added that with the inclusion of the 65 mentees, it has altogether graduated about 222 young entrepreneurs who are riding the tide of the Nigerian business environment with great confidence and hope.
The president, LCCI, Mrs. Nike Akande, explained that one of the associated challenges in countries with high population growth is the rising youth unemployment, revealing that according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicate that unemployment is the highest among Nigerian youths with unemployment rate currently standing at 48 per cent.
Akande during the opening ceremony of its 2017 mentoring programme, said the staggering unemployment double digit figures are by far higher than the average unemployment rate of 29.8 per cent at Q3 of 2016.
“Youth unemployment in Nigeria has become a disturbing social and economic issue and we are happy that the present administration has made employment generation one of its cardinal objectives,” she said.
According to her, the mentoring programme is aimed at supporting government initiatives towards reducing unemployment in the country, urging both the Federal and State governments to come up with policies that would help in making the youths employers of labour rather than job seekers.
She added that since the chamber commenced its mentoring programme in 2013, it has graduated a total of 245 mentees out of which many have received national awards, stressing that the mentees are making remarkable progress in their businesses with laudable records of job creation.
“The youths need the full support of the governments to turn commercial ideas into marketable businesses. The LCCI will continue to play its part in empowering more youth to get engaged in viable sectors like agriculture, entertainment, creative arts, technology solutions, e-commerce and other productive sectors,” she said.
In her words, “To us at LCCI, focusing on developmental initiative on the youth is a means of investing in their future thereby guaranteeing better tomorrow for our country.
The chamber will continue to strive to enhance the quality and output of the mentoring programme through available partnership opportunities from within and outside the country. I therefore use this opportunity to invite members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and international development partners to support this initiative.”
Also speaking at the event, the Vice President and Chairperson, Membership Committee of LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, added that the mentorship programme is a rigorous one and has strict rules and guidelines which mentees must adhere to in order to graduate, saying that the initiative has an average graduation rate of 98 per cent.
She said out of the 222 businesses that have graduated under the mentorship programme, about 29 of them representing 94 per cent of the mentoring programme alumni are in operation, doing business and employing an average of seven other young Nigerians directly.
She noted that the chamber deliberately focuses on developmental initiatives such as entrepreneurship development programmes including mentoring young entrepreneurs, pointing out that a mentoring programme such as the chamber’s is aimed at investing in the future business leaders of Nigeria.
“For us at LCCI, we are sowing the seeds for the future. We are ensuring that the economy of this country is inundated with those who will put this country in the top 10 economies of the world. It is part of a series of interventions from the chamber to truly position our young entrepreneurs for business success now and in the future,” she said.
The Chairman, Board of Business Education Services and Training (BEST) Unit, LCCI, Soboma Ajumogobia, said for most entrepreneurs, starting a business is significantly challenging, developing and growing from a business concept into a sucessful and sustainable enterprise is a tough call that requires great tenacity, maintaining that it is as a result of these challenges the chamber initiated the entrepreneurship mentoring programme to provide those that meet its eligibility criteria with the essential training and orientation required to develop, grow ad expand viable small and medium scale enterprises.
He pointed out that many of its mentees have recorded marked improvements in the efficiency and profitability of their businesses as a consequence of their successful completion of the programme, imploring the 2017 mentees to embrace the initiative to extract maximum benefit to support and expand their businesses.
He said the mentees will shortly attend a personal development workshop and subsequently take on business management training modules before participating I regular practical mentoring sessions with assigned mentors.
“The programme also offers business tours of selected large corporate organizations where mentees will be directly exposed to business sectors, they will also participate in five different exhibitions virtually held on a monthly basis to showcase their products and services,” he added.