By Dipo Olowookere
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has described entrepreneurship as the antidote for unemployment of youth in the country.
Mr Sekibo gave this submission in his keynote address delivered at the Next Titan Season-4 Premiere Show/Gala Evening held in Lagos not too long ago.
Heritage Bank Plc, in partnership with organisers of the Next Titan Nigeria, Bravopoints International Limited, unveiled 16 finalists with brightest business ideas who will compete for the grand prize of the competition.
The Next Titan is Nigeria’s entrepreneurial reality TV show where thousands of ambitious young entrepreneurs across the country compete with one another for a grand prize of N5 million and a brand-new car to start his or her dream business.
The finalists were unveiled in Lagos out of a total of 60 contestants that emerged from more than 2,000 budding entrepreneurs that were screened in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Lagos.
Mr Sekibo charged the 16 finalists to see themselves as winners who are striving to provide solution to the menace of youth unemployment in Nigeria.
Represented at the event by the Executive Director, Mr Jude Monye; the bank chief said the benefits of entrepreneurship today, cannot be over-emphasized because it is an antidote for youth unemployment.
“In Heritage Bank, we are passionate about entrepreneurship. This is extremely relevant today given the unemployment challenges that we face in Nigeria and Africa at large.
“Nothing is more fulfilling than to groom-to-empower young aspiring start-up entrepreneurs and mentor them to grow and become large corporates enlisted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. We are dedicated to developing the next generation of outstanding young African entrepreneurs, who will shape the continent’s economies and the world at large,” Mr Sekibo said.
He warned that the unemployment indices today cannot be changed by more government jobs alone; stressing that the nation needs to democratize job creation.
According to him, the best way to achieve this is by creating and empowering more entrepreneurs. “We seriously need to create our own Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, and we need to multiply our Philip Emeagwali, Dangotes, Florence Seriki, Bankole Cardoso, Jason Njoku amongst others. Only entrepreneurs can create the millions of jobs we need to power our economy out of poverty,” he stated.
The Executive Producer of the project, Mr Mide Kunle-Akinlaja in his address of welcome appreciated the sponsors and the judges of the project over the years.
He said the objective of the Next Titan Nigeria is to present entrepreneurship as a viable career option to young graduates, adding that the project is about demystifying entrepreneurship and present it as what young unemployed graduates should start leveraging on to build lasting wealth for themselves and for the nation. As a catalytic institution in the empowering of entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector, Heritage Bank has continued to make relentless efforts in this space to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria through championing several empowerment schemes like the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP), Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) on Young Entrepreneurship Business Training Programme (YEBTP), Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant and Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), Big Brother Nigeria, Lagos Comic Con, amongst others.
Other guest speakers who at the gala night show on entrepreneurship were Professor Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School and Maxi Sam Ohuabunwa, former Managing Director of Neimeth Pharmaceutical Plc.
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