Group gives graduates, entrepreneurs a shot in the arm

Abidemi Adeshina’s small scale photography business is about to get a lift.

One of the beneficiaries of the School of Enterprise Development program organized by CitiHigh Resources Limited in Lagos; Mr. Adeshina says he intended to secure a job after graduation, save some money, before retiring to full time photography.

“I’ve been in business for over six years before I went to the university,” says Mr. Adeshina, an Economics graduate from the Lagos State University.

“And basically, why I went to the university was to get some more knowledge on how to improve my business.

“Unfortunately, I went to school, came back, and was looking for job again,” Mr. Adeshina adds.

Last weekend, 43 graduates and entrepreneurs gathered in a small room at Omole, Lagos.

Mr. Adeshina, looking confident in a dark suit, was seated in their midst.

“Coming here today for the past one week has really changed my mind set on how to develop my businesses in just a week and I spent six years in school,” he says.

“And this is entrepreneurial process which I have been looking for in order to develop my business to the height I want it to be and within a week I got it.”

CitiHigh Resources, a training and resource development outfit, aims to bring expertise in assisting innovative, technology driven Small and Medium Scale enterprises and entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

“We are focused on building multifarious educational institutions and resources to create multidimensional human capacity for diverse industrial and economic development,” says Niyi Odutayo, the company’s Managing Director.

“Our mandate is building and running educational institutions which will proactively interface between training human capacities to build skills and providing ready to use capacity requirements for various industries,” Mr. Odutayo adds.

The beneficiaries of the Enterprise Program would embark on a sponsored one month internship program with various partner companies after which a start up interest free loan would be given to outstanding participants, according to the organizers.

“The internship program is designed to give the successful candidates real life exposure to some of the issues they have been taught in the classroom,” Mr. Odutayo says.

“This is in order that they may learn firsthand what the average entrepreneur faces on daily basis and perhaps develop better insights for how he shall handle these issues in his or her own establishment.”

There were more than 1,000 applications for the program; the list later whittled down to 100, out of which 43 participants were short listed for the maiden entrepreneurship ship program, which the organizers say would become an annual affair.

Adebo Williams says that graduates were “deliberately” selected for the program.

“We want to be sure they have the capacity to compete on the global stage,” says Mr. Williams, CitiHigh’s Director of Programs.

“The whole essence is they can learn how to operate from every level – from the grass roots to the global level.

“Let’s have a situation where we can engage these young people, the little we can touch,” says Mr. Williams.

While most of the interns would be deployed to various companies to gain working experiences; five people with outstanding business plans would receive N200,000 each for their plans.

“There is no crime in starting small,” says Mr. Odutola.

Babatunde Olabode, a beneficiary, says the training has helped him to develop courage to take up his own business.  

“I just came back from service thinking I would really get a good job and up till now I’m so frustrated in the job market,” says Mr. Olabode, 30, a graduate of Economics from Olabisi Onabanjo University.

“I believe that there is no job anywhere until you are able to start up something all by yourself and you are ready to also help others to realize that chasing after white collar jobs is not going to help anybody.

“Let everybody start what they know how to do,” Mr. Olabode adds.

The Enterprise Development Scholarship package is worth over N500,000 in training content, resource features, internship package, and support systems; the organizers say.

“Over time, I’ve always had this vision, my own kind of dream. I’ve always been waiting for an avenue whereby I could actually explode and put my views and my visions into reality,” says Babatunde Williams, 30, a graduate of Lagos State University.

“I’ve always been worried – what is really going to happen to me after school? How am I going to actually make it? Knowing fully well that there are no jobs,” says Mr. Williams, who studied Project Management.

“I know it will be capitally impossible for me to just go into it like that because definitely it’s capital intensive.

“Now I know I can start from somewhere and that capital is the last that will come into it. With my resources and every other thing, I believe I will get there.”

When Mr. Adeshina opened his photography shop six years ago, “the resources weren’t available.”

“And I was doing it as a small scale. And my mind was, I came back from school, I need to be big. With the experience I don’t want to continue the way I did it last time. I want to start big.

“But coming here, I’ve been able to understand that you don’t have to start big. You can start small but well covered with the experience you have and you provide services that are unique to other people within the industry which is more different from what they are giving,” says Mr. Adeshina.

“Now I’m going to include services to my photography, in terms of framing, art works, and, if possible, exhibitions once in a while.”

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