The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Joy Basu has emphasized the importance of young people leveraging on opportunities around them to innovate and become better and successful entrepreneurs.
This was stated at a panel organized by the U.S. Department of State titled: Empowering Youths: Opportunities in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The program also had two youth entrepreneurs in the person of Dr. Adaora Enyi, the founder of Oncopadi Technologies Limited, and Mr. Asher Adenitis, the co-founder/CEO of Eazipay and Gidijobs.
According to them, young entrepreneurs can succeed in the dynamic world of entrepreneurship and innovation. This can be done as they leverage Nigeria’s vibrant youth population to further foster innovative enterprises, staying updated with evolving technology, keeping an eye on competitors, and remaining open to change and agile in business operations.
Using their backgrounds and experience, they highlighted some key points that will enable youths to succeed in Fintech and any other entrepreneurial endeavours.
The key points of discussion were on how youths can:
- Leverage training, grants, and exchange programs
- Integrating technology for innovation and efficiency
- Take advantage of our youthful population
- Harness passion, experience, and networks to build a successful business.
- Engage in constant learning.
- Become accountable, and have integrity.
Leverage on training, grants, and exchange programs
Joy Basu stressed the importance of seizing opportunities for training, capacity building, and partnership with American companies. She encouraged young entrepreneurs to identify their passions and seek fellowship, internships, and training to collectively solve problems. Speaking she said,
- “The US in Nigeria has opportunities for training, capacity building, and partnership with American companies. There are also opportunities to travel to the US for these trainings.
- “Think about what your passion is for fellowship internships and trainings. It’s about solving problems together in partnership so do it with your fellow entrepreneurs”.
Integrating technology for innovation and efficiency
Dr Adaora Enyi, an award-winning physician and founder of Oncopadi Technologies Limited, a global tech leader, and a One Young World summit participant spoke on shared her journey of using technology to advance cancer treatment due to her passion for the treatment of cancer patients.
She emphasized the importance of leveraging technology in the medical sciences and how she learned to build structures in the Tech Women program, learning regulatory compliance, Intellectual property, and delivering a successful pitch which is something she comes across most times.
The relevance of Africa’s youthful population
Joy Basu speaking further, said innovating in Africa is necessary as it has a predominantly young population. She said youths can be supported as innovators because Nigeria is a great resource which is its people, hence talent needs to be developed.
- “We cannot solve the world’s problems without Africa”
- “We are in this together by making sure Talent thrives. I’m energized when I see creativity, hard work, and intelligence.
Harnessing passion, experience, and networks to build a successful business
Asher Adeniyi, co-founder of EazyPay and Gidi jobs, and a Washington Fellow, once selected to visit Silicon Valley, highlighted the value of his background, work experience, networks, and passion that led to a successful entrepreneurial journey. He underscored the importance of co-founders, shared pressure, and managing resources responsibly.
He recollected how his background, work experience, and passion led to entrepreneurship. He was born and raised in Northern Nigeria which is synonymous with communal living but with few resources.
Coming down to the southwest, he went to college and studied Engineering. During the internship, he met a mentor who was marketing for Coca-Cola. Later that individual went ahead to start his business and he later worked with him for four years, handling projects for top companies in Lagos.
This led to his foray into business and making connections and recommendations.
Driven by his passion to connect young graduates with jobs, he started GidiJobs which was his first business. This was birthed as he worked on marketing strategies for big companies, which led to his contacts asking for recommendations for jobs. This later morphed into Gidijobs, then training for job seekers who could not secure jobs.
Later, whilst working with several companies that serviced over 300 companies in Lagos and over 10,000 Dangote wholesalers, the idea behind EazyPay started.
Speaking on the importance of having co-founders, he said it enables shared pressure and accountability in managing resources responsibly because investors have expectations.
Adora spoke on keeping up with the world of technology highlighting research and development and integrating AI.
- “Research and development is the core of what we do. We are keen on getting feedback. Every quarter we do focused group discussions”.
- “Always keep an eye on your competitors. There is now a need to delve into AI We are looking at the role AI can play in healthcare. Be open to change and be agile”.
Being accountable, have integrity
Asher said that although Fintech looks like an El Dorado, it’s important to have integrity and understand the economics and dynamics well to be successful and not pack shop.
- “Be humble enough to learn. Other things can make one successful. You need a reliable partner. I have been a good ambassador of the Mandela Washington Fellowship and Drake University in Ohio.
- “If you are in Fintech, you need connections with the banks for integrity. Interestingly in Nigeria, we do have a credit rating system. They know what to do with your PTA, BVN. Our company has integration with all PSAs.
- “Integrity is the currency you send first when you don’t have all the capital”.