by ABLAKU Dauda
Various attempts have been made at different times by different governments to stem the tide of unemployment in Nigeria.
Now the government may have hit on a winning formula; growing the concept of entrepreneurship especially with those who are really passionate about it, to create more jobs for large numbers in need of it. Enter the You WiN project.
You WiN stands for Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria. The project was started about two years ago, with a third phase launched by the President last year, essentially the plan was to have a large cross-section of Youth entrepreneurs come up with concrete business plans built upon unique ideas which could well transform into a lasting business.
These would not only make profit, but serve as a source of employment to others, ultimately creating jobs and reducing the prevailing unemployment statistics. The approach is centred on an innovative business plan competition. The first round of the competition was awarded in 2011 with 1200 successful businesses.
As with anything policy driven and affecting youth in the nation, this project does seem to have come with its own controversies, and many Nigerian citizens have been vocal critics of the implementation. From the onset many youths were sceptical about how much sincerity was going to be involved in the program. There were concerns about the government’s intention to use the business plan competition to choose which entrepreneurs qualified to draw seed funding grants from a pool of N50bn.
One thing was for sure though, the two sides of the arguments – those for and against – seemed to have really strong points to back up their sides and debate raged about it on several platforms, including popular youth forum Nairaland.
A Nairaland contributor with the username ‘emiye’ wrote: “Where is the job creation road map? Or is it throwing money around as usual? Seemingly good project but surely poorly planned”. Another contributor by the user name ‘Beaf’ wrote: “This is an example of the sort of far reaching idea that the country needs to make progress.
The private sector must be energized to generate wealth and employment. That is the way it is in all developed countries the World over… Let us pray that the running of You WiN will be excellent to produce the excellent results we dream of. Great initiative”
According to the President “we have come up with this program to see how we can help the young people who have creative abilities to turn such creative abilities into money.” Continuing, he said the program is unique in the sense that it is dependent on the youth to create jobs for their fellow youth, with a target to create between 80 000 and 110 000 sustainable good jobs over the next four years.
Also as one of those at the forefront of the programme’s implementation, the minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, stated “that the scheme was not all about winning but focuses on empowering those with good business ideas to put them into use, while those without good ideas would undergo training to grow their businesses.” The commitment is to create job opportunities for the youth by empowering them to become job providers and not job seekers.
The programme had a particular focus on female participants in 2012. This represented the second phase of the scheme and it produced 1200 You WiN women awardees. Also as part of winning on the programme, awardees receive integrated mentoring to enhance their chances of success as entrepreneurs.
One beneficiary of the scheme, Anayo of Lagos Favorable Standard Concept, said: “With You WiN funds, I was able to air my programmes on TV stations across the country”. But apparently the programme had been tentatively scheduled for just three phases. As such two other beneficiaries: Nwachukwu Onyeaso, a software developer and Oduniyi Ibironke, a jeweller, both agreed that with the success stories of the two phases of the program, the federal government should consider extending the program beyond the projected three phases.
Overall, there might be lasting benefits from the You WiN program – a business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas – which might be identified in the long term, as it could create the numbers we might need as a nation to solve an unemployment problem which has refused to go away.
You WiN! stands for Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria. It is an innovative business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas. The accomplishments of the 1,200 You WiN! awardees were celebrated at the Presidential Villa on April 12, 2012.
You WiN! Women was the second edition of the entrepreneurial scheme, which was designed for only female entrepreneurs aged 45 years or less. You WiN! 3 is the third edition and will feature men and women entrepreneurs in Nigeria between the ages of 18 to 45.