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Incubating African kids entrepreneurs for next-gen impact

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Incubating African kids entrepreneurs for next-gen impact

At the event, the organisers also argued that the move would help tackle unemployment, youth restiveness, criminality, and insecurity in the country.

The BMI Catch Them Young (CTY) event aimed to groom the entrepreneurial spirit in kids and teens to prepare them for the future.

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It was well attended as it witnessed a gathering of students from various schools, kid entrepreneurs, and some notable Nigerians like Nnamdi Ezeigbo (the CEO of SLOT Systems Limited), Prof. Taiwo Timothy, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Federal University of Technology Akure, Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, an associate professor at Lagos Business School, Mr. Abatan Adedamola, Lagos State Director of Education, Consular General, South Africa, Bobby Moore; and a member, House of Representatives, Hon. Onuakalusi Okey-Joe.

A cross-section of established children entrepreneurs mentored their peers and shared business lessons.

One of the teen entrepreneurs, Sapphire Ekeng, a 14-year-old actress who also owns a skincare brand called Sapphire Skincare, spoke about her brand and the role her mother played.

She said: “The idea came to me during the year of Covid which was 2020. For me, I would say Covid either broke you or made you. It made me because I usually do acting, but I wasn’t called for acting jobs that period because of the lockdown, so I was thinking of another way to make money.

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“First, I thought of pillows because I love pillows; they are comfy. When I told my mom about it, we did a few marketing surveys and saw that it wouldn’t be so successful. Then I remembered that I always receive compliments for my skin, that it looks healthy, and that it’s glowing. Then I said why not invest in that and make it a business? So I launched it on my 13th birthday, and ever since, it’s been amazing.”

Another 14-year-old teen entrepreneur, Kosi Ogboruche, a sports analyst and visual artist, shared how he manages his time as a student and an entrepreneur.

He noted that focus and discipline are essential for any kid entrepreneur who is an actor or whatever the kid is doing to make money.

The young actor said: “Without time management and discipline, you might end up playing games when you are supposed to be reading or thinking of ideas, and I think I manage my time well.

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“For example, you said I am a football analyst, so I am writing a test right now, and at night, I am supposed to be reading, but there’s a match going on. What I do is record the match. After reading it, I can play it later and analyse it. That has worked for me.”

Toluwanimi Olaoye, a 14-year-old actor, on the other hand, shared business nuggets for aspiring kid entrepreneurs.

He said: "I would advise any young person who wants to go into acting or entrepreneurship to ensure they do due diligence. It would help if you put in a lot of commitment and hard work. It would help if you did not give up that easily.

“You might not see results as early as you expect, but when you keep putting in that same amount of energy and commitment when you are consistent, you will eventually see results.”

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Responding, Nnamdi Unachukwu, a business mogul, the CEO of BMI CTY and an established entrepreneur, encouraged the audience by sharing his humble beginning in business.

He also presented his book ‘ How I made my first 1 Million Dollars’ to the audience.

During his speech, he acknowledged his parents, especially for nurturing his entrepreneurial talents from a tender age.

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“I kept telling stories about how my mother would have me go to her store and care for the entire store at age 11 until my uncles felt like I didn’t want to go to school. But that wasn’t the case. I learned entrepreneurship, and my mother and father exposed me to it, too.”

Mr Unachukwu, an engineer, also narrated how they started making money as a Youth Corp member.

“I studied electronic engineering and graduated in 1999 when telecoms was introduced to Nigeria. We were 62 in class; 60 were looking for jobs in oil, bank and telecom companies.

“But the two of us, unfortunately, that my friend is late, said we want to create employment. So, back to Lagos, where I was serving the people working for me, when I opened a cyber cafe in Mushin that my father gave me in his plaza. Those people didn’t know I was a Youth Corp member, and I had five employees."

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Similarly, Nnamdi Ezeigbo, the founder and CEO of SLOT Systems Limited, emphasised how starting up a business for him was borne out of necessity and not passion.

“I didn’t grow up in an entrepreneur home; my dad and mum were salary earners. I studied electrical engineering. My vision was to work in an oil company. When I graduated, I was lucky to serve in Lagos, and I was posted to Guinness.

“The whole idea was to work hard and get a job, but that didn’t happen in my case. When I graduated after my Youth service, I couldn’t find an oil company job. I spent two years at home looking for an excellent job until it dawned on me that the job wasn’t enough to go around,” he said.

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A young boy named Perfect Odiniwu from Cosom School did a presentation on entrepreneurship. He caught the attention of the audience with his well-articulated speech.

Dr. Onwuegbuezie, a lecturer from Lagos Business School, taught the children the difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur. Surprisingly, the children were able to assimilate the lessons.

The event organisers recently announced their innovative efforts to integrate entrepreneurship into fundamental educational curriculums.

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After two years of thorough research, they said they have devised a comprehensive approach to delivering entrepreneurship education in Nigeria.

This methodology is embedded in what they call six-sense approach to entrepreneurship education for kids 7-14 years). This comprises Textbooks, Workbooks, Discussion book (The bridging gap) video recorded lessons, Cartoon series, BMI-Fantasy game (Gamification), Practical manual, and Train the Trainer manual.

The team comprises skilled educators, accomplished entrepreneurs with vast experience, IT specialists, seasoned researchers, and management consultants who would help groom young entrepreneurs to become innovative.

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