The Ugwumba Startups Development Program, driven by InnoPower Indy, USA, has selected 112 Nigerian youths who are growing startups in various sectors of the economy, including renewable energy, waste recycling, agric technology, information technology, and health technology.
The Center’s Executive Director, Remy Chukwunyere, highlighted the initiative, stating that InnoPower Indy, USA partnered with the Ugwumba Center for Leadership Development in Africa “to create a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria.” According to him, “as agreed by both parties, the partnership will help young entrepreneurs in Africa create jobs and economic opportunities by providing them greater access to education, capital, and business support services”.
He said the collaboration is in response to the youth unemployment crisis “that has become the most significant development challenge in Africa. By 2035, the International Monetary Fund estimates that the number of Africans joining the working-age population will exceed the rest of the world combined. To fill this surge, 18 million new jobs will have to be created each year for the next 20 years across the sub-Saharan African region”.
Chukwunyere stressed further that, “the population of Nigeria is over 200.96 million, making it the most populated country in Africa with a median age of 18.4 years, which means that over 70% of the population are youths.
“Reliable data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that more than 60% of Nigeria’s working-age population is younger than 34. Unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 stood at 53.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, and at 37.2% for people aged 25 to 34. The jobless rate for women was 35.2% compared with 31.8% for men.
“According to the UN, Nigeria is expected to be the world’s third most-populous country by 2050, with over 300 million people. This implies that the number of people looking for jobs will keep rising as population growth continues to outpace output expansion.
“As outrageous as the above sounds, there is still hope if the Government and other stakeholders are determined to cause a change in the system. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria contribute over 76% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to a report released by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency. The report equally revealed that about 30 million small businesses are operating in Nigeria.
“To reduce the impacts of the high unemployment rate and populaiton explosion on the economy, there is an urgent need to raise and support young entrepreneurs in Nigeria, who shall begin to create jobs for themselves and for other youths as well as contribute to the GDP of the country.
“That was why the Ugwumba Leadership Center launched the annual Ugwumba Enterprise Challenge, which is a business pitching and grant competition that supports young entrepreneurs and innovators in Nigeria in 2018. Therefore, to advance the impacts of the Ugwumba Enterprise Challenge over the years, our partners at InnoPower USA developed the Ugwumba Startups Program, to leverage on the “business model canvas and lean launchpad” to provide skill development for young entrepreneurs in Nigeria”.
He disclosed further that, “the Ugwumba Startups Program shall feature four weeks of intensive and interactive virtual training sessions on important business development concepts, such as: The Startup Ecosystem; Creating a Market; Crafting the MVP; Managing the Money; Marketing and Branding; etc to be facilitated by US based University Professors and business development experts, namely: Emil Ekiyor, CEO, InnoPower Indy, USA, Dr. Joe Albano, CEO Logika International, USA, Prof. Kristin Burton, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Purdue University, Northwest.
“Prof. Stephanie Fernhaber, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Butler University, USA , Prof. Dileep Rao, Clinical Professor, Florida International University, USA, Phoenix Jackson, Founder of Phoenix Affect, USA and Jason Williams, MD, The Society of Innovators, Purdue University, Northwest.
“As earlier indicated, 112 Nigerian youths from across the 36 States and FCT are benefiting from this business development program that will create more jobs and contribute to the growth of the Nigerian economy”.