Prof. Titilayo Akinlabi, the Director, Pan African University of Life Earth and Sciences, has called on youths in Africa to embrace entrepreneurship as a way out of unemployment and poverty.
Akinlabi made the call on Monday in Ibadan during the opening of a three-day entrepreneurship workshop organised by the institution for students drawn from some African countries.
“What we are doing with entrepreneurship for students to acquire skills is first of its kind.
“Entrepreneurship is of great importance in today’s world because it has the ability to improve people’s standard of living and create wealth.
“The entrepreneurship skills are necessary in Nigeria, in particular, considering that the white-collar jobs are not there So we have to create the job.
“If we equip our students that can go out there and make good use of the skills learnt, they will help to create the jobs,” Akinlabi said.
She said the institution understood the numerous benefits of entrepreneurship, especially toward the achievement of the university’s strategic plan.
According to her, the institution’s Entrepreneurship Hub was set up to equip students and members of staff with skills and mindset on entrepreneurship.
She said the choice of the activities for the workshop was based on the challenges brought about by COVID-19, as soap and sanitiser became essential commodities.
“The demand for soap and hand sanitisers have increased greatly, hence the choice of how to make soap and sanitisers for the first two days of the workshop.
“For the third day, having students from 44 African countries here in Nigeria, we intend to look for any activity that would promote Nigeria, that speaks about cultural diversity.
“Something that is local and indigenous to Nigeria that we can sell to these students.
“That was how we came about ‘adire’ (local tie-and-dye cloth) making.
Akinlabi said the institution planned to open an innovation and incubation hub to be sponsored by the African Development Bank.
She said the university would support students, who wished to venture into entrepreneurship through the bank.
A resource person, Mr Adeola Mukaila, urged youths to focus on entrepreneurship to overcome poverty and unemployment challenges.
Mukaila, who is into adire-making, said entrepreneurship helps to provide job for youths, who in turn become employers of labour.
“The tie-and-dye work has been of great benefit to me.
“I live in my own house and also fend for my family and children in school from the proceeds of the business.
“Youths should not remain stranded while looking for white-collar jobs.
“There are many alternatives that can provide stable income, if embraced with commitment,” Mukaila said.
He, however, appealed to federal and state Government to provide soft loan to youths as incentives to spur their interest in entrepreneurship.
Some of the participants, including Amina Hussein from Sudan and Babafemi Obideyi from Nigeria, described the workshop as an eye-opener.
They said it exposed them to the “endless opportunities” in the economic space.