In today’s rapidly changing world, the role of entrepreneurship in driving economic growth and empowering young people cannot be overstated. One advocate for this cause is Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and a billionaire businessman. Elumelu has been a vocal proponent of youth entrepreneurship, recognizing its potential to transform Nigeria and contribute to national development. In a recent speech delivered at the Nigeria Governors Forum, Elumelu urged Nigerian leaders, especially the governors of the 36 states, to embrace entrepreneurship as a means to empower the youth and create a better future for the country.
Investing in Young People
Elumelu emphasized the importance of investing in young people as a guarantee for national transformation. He urged the governors to provide an enabling environment for the youth to thrive, emphasizing that empowering them would lead to the transformation of Nigeria as a whole. Elumelu highlighted the need to move away from over-reliance on the allocation of funds from the central government and instead diversify and think outside the box.
“The next generation is our hope for a better Nigeria. If we empower young people in our states and give them an enabling environment to grow, they will transform Nigeria.” Elumelu said.
Youth Unemployment and Entrepreneurship
Youth unemployment remains a pressing issue in Nigeria, with projections indicating a rate of about 51 percent in 2023. Elumelu highlighted the dangers of idle minds, which can lead to alienation, frustration, and undesirable outcomes such as extremism, emigration, and crime. He emphasized that youth engagement is crucial for the development of any society, and entrepreneurship can play a significant role in driving this engagement.
He said: “An idle mind attracts evil and rightfully so. Youth engagement is crucial for the development of any society, and entrepreneurship can play a significant role in driving this engagement.”
Elumelu stressed the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in achieving Nigeria’s destiny. He highlighted the shared goals of the private sector, such as a better tomorrow for Nigeria, unity, prosperity, and well-being for all. Elumelu championed entrepreneurship as a means to achieve these goals, emphasizing that entrepreneurs have a stake in the country’s success and can contribute to economic growth.
“An entrepreneur carries others, family, employees, and communities with him or her. With this foundation, entrepreneurs can be the engines of our growth.”
Creating an Enabling Environment
Elumelu shared his insights on creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the states. Drawing inspiration from successful countries like Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, he emphasized the importance of sound financial and economic policies, a corruption-free environment, technological advancement, and targeted support for entrepreneurs. Elumelu urged the governors to see themselves as presidents of their states, CEOs, and lead mentors, with a clear vision and strategy for achieving their goals.
“Gentlemen, I would like you all to see yourselves as the Presidents of your states, CEOs, and lead mentors. Every one of you can do this and it starts from day 1 in the office and how you organise your office and administration the vision and strategy for what you would like to achieve”
Tony Elumelu’s call for Nigerian leaders to embrace youth entrepreneurship is both timely and significant. Through entrepreneurship, Nigeria can unleash the potential of its young population and drive sustainable economic growth. The time for action is now, and by heeding Elumelu’s words, the governors can contribute to the development and transformation of their states and the nation as a whole.