Entrepreneurship : An antidote to Youth's unemployment

By Taoheed Olarewaju Oriolowo. 


Between 2000 and 2012, the National Unemployment Rate for Nigeria showed an upward and backward trend: the number of unemployed persons constituted 31.1% in 2000, 13.6% in 2001, 23.9% in 2011 and 24% in 2012. With a large army of unemployed graduates continually churned out of tertiary institutions, Nigeria has one of the highest youth unemployment index in the world. In the Nigeria of today, it is gospel truth that heavy reliance on government work by the unemployed youths is tantamount to folly. The Federal Government of Nigeria recently disclosed that virtually all Ministries, Departments and Agencies are working at full capacity, and thereafter urged young graduates to learn and embrace as many entrepreneurial skills as possible so that they would be able to stand on their own.

In the light of the above, the burden posed by unemployment is not the duty of government alone to combat. Many measures have been suggested to check this ordeal, among which is entrepreneurship. Therefore, this write-up seeks to the youth employment menace, especially among graduates of tertiary institutions.


According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, entrepreneurship is the act of making money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks. Druckers (1970) definition of entrepreneurship is also anchored on risk-taking; he further submits that the behavior of the entrepreneur reflects a kind of person willing to put his or her career and financial security on the line and take a risk in the name of an idea. From a managerial perspective, Gana (2001) defines entrepreneurship as the willingness and ability of an individual to seek out investment opportunities in an environment, and be able to establish and run an enterprise successfully based on the identified opportunities.


Entrepreneurs are individuals who recognize opportunities where others see chaos or confusion. An entrepreneur is viewed as a person who either creates new combination of production factors such as new methods of production, new market, find new sources of supply and organizational form or as a person is willing to take risks or a person who exploits market opportunities, eliminate disequilibrium between aggregate demand and supply or a person who owns and operates a business.
Psychologically, the entrepreneur has certain personality traits which influence his behavior; sociologically, he lives in a society; economically, he is obviously affected by the economic opportunities and government incentives. According to Jeffery A. Timmon, "anyone can be an entrepreneur, who wants to experience the deep dark cayons of uncertainty and ambiguity; who wants to walk the breathtaking highlands of success."


Becoming a successful young entrepreneur can be very challenging, but to ease the complication, the following are some guides to one that wishes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Find your entrepreneurial spirit:  Before becoming an entrepreneur, you will have to determine whether you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. Take a realistic view of your strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, you look at areas of your capability (knowledge and experience), aptitude (skill and likes) and personality (persistence and resilience). Among questions you ask yourself are: Do I have the knowledge and experience required to succeed within my chosen industry? Can I deal with failures and hardships along my path to success? Finally, assess whether or not you have the financial standing required to start the business. Having done these, you sure are done with the problem of entrepreneurial spirit.
Set your goals: Here, there are many activities to be done. These activities include creating a business plan, deciding your business legal framework among others. Under this phase, you decide what you want to do, then go for it. Your goals can be noble or mundane. Whatever your goals are, identify them. Specifically, there are mainly three types of goal: short-term goals, including improvement in sale capacity, getting more investors and so on. These goals are weekly or monthly achieved. Medium goals are better expressible as sub-goals, as their achievements should lead to attaining a long term goal. Long-term goals take the form of a mission or vision statement for your company or organization. Finally, ensure these set goals are realistic, clear and actionable.

Choose a location: Your business should be situated in a location not only with enough space but also with unlimited investment and business opportunities.

Set up your business: The first task prior to the starting up of a business operation is obtaining finance. The easiest way to start your entrepreneurial activity is to get a personal loan. While there is need to source money externally from family or friends, we do not encourage investments solely due to personal relationship, as failure will lead to schism and estrangement. Explain your ideas and get them excited about why they should invest in it. 

Hire competent staff: Efficiency and effectiveness cannot be achieved when you work with staff that are not intellectual, skilled, dexterous and competent. Business itself cannot achieve its set goals; it is the staff who work for business to achieve whatever goals it sets.

Implement your marketing and sale strategies: Once you are up and running, then you begin to use the marketing and sales plan that you described in your business plan. Purchase advertising space, network with local business owners, and work towards winning over your target audience as planned. Then, monitor your marketing efforts to gauge which ones are successful. Look for rises, or lacks of rises in sales that coincide with your marketing efforts. Ask customers how they heard of your business and record their responses; then you can use what you have learned to refocus your marketing strategies.

Grow your business: Here, you take advantage of both local and online media to promote your business. Overall, your goal should be to build up your business brand which is the way that your business is perceived by customers. Should know that your brand needs to link you and your customers within the same shared set of values. 

Diversify your business line:  One of the unique characteristics of an entrepreneur is risk taking. Most of successful entrepreneurs didn't get to where they are playing it safe. A quote says, 'whoever expects higher return must expect higher risk' thus, as an entrepreneur, you need to take calculated risk to move your business forward. In the business world, though such risk could be managed and minimized via diversification of business lines. You do not stop looking for new ways to improve your business and do not let yourself get trapped into doing things just one way. Take the initial income you earn and put it back into your business. Alternatively, re-invest your earned income into other ventures. Whatever you do, do not blow your earnings on unproductive activities. Thus, manage your money carefully.

Always get ready to shift gears: What I mean here is that if your initial business idea or organization doesn't pan out, do not be afraid to pull the plug. Alternatively, if you find that another business sector or a related industry holds more promises, pursue a new enterprise in that sector. If your business model needs revision, work with your team to shift focus. If your business grows too quickly, you might need to downsize by cutting staff, closing unproductive stores or discontinuing poor products. Stay nimble and always look for new opportunities.

By not mentioning these, a lot of people would not have appreciated what entrepreneurship has done to our dear country Nigeria in many ways if I can also keep mute. Apart from the benefit of employment generation, there are also benefits which are positive to the country itself, among which includes increase in local value added through technological development in Nigeria, a means to GDP (gross domestic product) contribution, creating friendly environment by encouraging local investments and mitigating social vices among others. 

To begin with, entrepreneurship in the country has helped in the level of technology in the country and thus adding values to locally made goods. It can be seen that the industrialists have gone out to acquire recent technology for the production of goods and services. The introduction of these technologies really helps in the area of development of locally produced goods rather than relying solely on imported goods. 

In the global world today, entrepreneurship is the most fast contributing economic activity. Entrepreneurship has greatly contributed to the Nigeria Gross Domestic Product in a positive way.  The catalyst for GDP of Nigeria today is nothing but entrepreneurship. Through inventions and innovations, the Nigerian economy has become greatly buoyant and blessed; as such, this has simply helped our economic activities through creations, consumptions and exchanges that consequentially are beneficial to our GDP. It is very essential since entrepreneurship serves as the spring board and training ground for many people. It should be agreed that the strength of an economy to a large extent depends on the development of entrepreneurship in such a country. This could also be a considerable benefit of what entrepreneurship has done.

Another benefit of entrepreneurship is the creation of friendly environment by encouraging local investments. Entrepreneurship has made the environment more convenient and friendly by ensuring easy access for the needs of every man in such environment where entrepreneurial activities are encouraged and domiciled.

The fact is not disputed that on the working of entrepreneurship, it has also generated  employment opportunities in the country through the engagement of young school leavers. A corollary of this is that entrepreneurship also reduces crime and some social vices to a considerable extent and curbs act of immoralities in the country. 

In an attempt to develop entrepreneurial skills by the Nigerian Government, some policies were introduced. The Federal Government in collaboration with foreign bodies continue to play vital roles in providing foreign capital to some SMEs in Nigeria. Such organisations include World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC). Some of the agencies established by government to help entrepreneurship development in Nigeria include: Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC); National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND); The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) among others. Among some policies initiated include the indigenization policy 1972/77; the Structural Adjustment Programme of 1986, the Nigerian Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS 2004), YouWin (Youth Enterprise with Innovative in Nigeria, this particular policy was initiated under the Jonathan-led administration in 2011) among others. All these policies aimed at developing entrepreneurship in Nigeria. 

Of recent, I attended a presentation at Usmanu Danfodiyo University's auditorium where the same theme was presented by the guest speaker- Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. This great man started his presentation by pronouncing various successful entrepreneurs in the world with their entrepreneurial skills and also ended his presentation by urging the young men and women who are capable, intellectual and knowledgeable to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship irrespective of their walks of life. 

Having analysed what entrepreneurship is, some guides on how to become a successful entrepreneur, its importance and government efforts in its development, we should come to realize that nothing can be better and more advantageous than entrepreneurship in tackling the hydra-headed phenomenon of unemployment. In spite of government efforts aimed at reducing the unemployment menace, the rate is still alarmingly high. This is because government efforts alone are not sufficient when compared with the magnitude of unemployment in the country. Nigeria, with time, will attain the golden height in the development of entrepreneurship without relenting its efforts by giving preference to it. It is in the wake of the above that we make the following recommendations.

The problem of unemployment is not what government alone can solve; as such, this requires the collective efforts of both the public and private enterprises to mitigate the problem by partnering with each other through initiating some entrepreneurial skills to help young ones. As it is currently being practised in some Nigerian tertiary institutions, entrepreneurial programmes and curricular should be designed to meet the current trends. The contents should be properly designed towards making a graduate in Nigeria skillful and self-reliant in a particular enterprise before he or she leaves school, such that the long years of waiting for the elusive supposed dream or plum job will be greatly cut-down through practising the various enterprises learnt about in school. Finally, adequate funds should be set aside by the public and private enterprises and channelled towards assisting graduates with entrepreneurial skills to set up their own privately owned enterprises in the area of their skills. This also comes with the idea of possibly becoming an employer of labour as against the usual after-school long waiting for the unsure forthcoming dream job.

In order to curb the growing rate of unemployment and youth restiveness, there is the need for the youth and job-seekers to be assisted to acquire the necessary entrepreneurial skills through business education programmes. This could be greatly appreciated by strengthening our educational curricula at all levels of education. Efforts should be intensified by government, business educators, management of educational institutions and industries to jointly develop vibrant and worthy business education programmes that will help in reducing the problem of unemployment and youth restiveness through entrepreneurship education. I hereby conclude that entrepreneurship is the God-sent lifesaver of Nigeria.

I strongly believe that with the knowledge of entrepreneurship, me and you can disregard the  prevalent and prevailing say about the menace of unemployment.

By  Taoheed Oriolowo 

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