The Managing Director and Co-Founder of Wennovation Hub, Mr. Wole Odetayo, a pioneer innovation accelerator in Nigeria, has described Nigerian business landscape as not favourable to youth entrepreneurship development.
Odetayo, who spoke to DAILY INDEPENDENT in an exclusive interview, recently said the structure Nigeria’s business environment is against the young people in the society, who wish to participate in the economic development, lamenting that the Nigerian youth do not have the opportunity to express themselves, and a lot of people do not even believe in the youth.
Though he admitted that nobody would hand over anything to the youth on a platter, he urged them to go for what they believe; work for it, and if possible dive deep to get a fair share of your rights and entitlement in the society.
“You just have to challenge the statuesque for what you want as a youth, not necessarily by force, but you have to be conscious of the facts that it is within your rights to have those things. So, if any youth wants to be recognized that young person need to demonstrate and convince the people that he is capable of managing those things”.
However, he believes the doors are not totally closed against the youths. “So, the youths cannot say because they do not have an enabling environment they will not strive to solve a problem. When they strive to solve problems, the world will reward them, even this nation called Nigeria will reward them.
Speaking on the claim that many youths who were governors and parliamentarians in their youthful prime mismanage the economy through bad governance, he said, it is as a result of changes in value of the society.
“I think it is a value system issue. Even the old and the young are not excluded from the general value system that we struggle with in Nigeria. When you have product of that value system, the decadence will not go away. What you value is what determines what you do and that is why I believe that for Nigeria to succeed human being should be the number one thing we value.
“The day you start to value human being and begin to develop the human capital, Nigeria will change for the better. The day we realise that we need to invest in Nigerian citizen, the day we realise that the Nigerian citizen have basic right to infrastructure, thing will change. It may not be over night but gradually the value system will begin to shift positively. I think the value system need to change as against celebrating wealth and only affluence which is what our value system currently revolves around”.
He, however, disagreed that the few youths who have had the opportunity to be in government have mismanaged it, pointing out that the proportion of youths below 35 year holding political office is less than two per cent.
“So, if the youths are not really there how can we say the youths have mismanaged the opportunity? The percentage of youths on governance is far too low to generalise youth failure in governance”, he explained.
On encouraging youths in business, the Wennovation Hub co-founder said government should begin to encourage the youths in small businesses through their procurement policies.
He said government should not wait for the company to be three to four yours with audited account before being given contracts.
“They should look for ways that those small businesses could be accommodated because that is when they will start gaining experience doing business and providing services. We know government is the biggest spender in any economy, spending more than the private sector and if the small scale businesses are the engine room of growth for any economy then, they should be accommodated in the policies of government”.
Wennovation Hub is a business incubator and accelerator hub founded a in 2011 aimed at solving three major challenges about youth unemployment, poverty and social and infrastructural under development while harnessing energies in young people to solve societal challenges leveraging technology.