Uwabor: To Build a Successful Business, You Must Start Small and Dream Big  

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Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award was established to celebrate and reward entrepreneurs who have displayed great potential to become successful players in the local and international market place over the past few years. In this interview with journalists in Abuja, the Executive Director, Mr. Joshua Uwabor, disclosed how the initiative has motivated young people within the country and beyond. Anayo Okolie was there

What inspired you to establish the Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award initiative?

Entrepreneurs are essential for our economic prosperity and growth. They have the ideas and the passion that are needed to create flourishing businesses which benefit entire communities. Entrepreneurs are resilient, fueled by adversity and undaunted by failure; their positive outlook and ‘can-do’ attitude are inspiration to others. Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award was berthed to celebrate and reward entrepreneurs who have shown outstanding business acumen, leadership and demonstrated outstanding results, displayed great potential to become successful players in the local and international market place over the past few years

Nigeria is noted to have large number of successful entrepreneurs,
how do you intend to make sure the awards benefit the right people?

From Nigeria up North to down South, East to West, Nigeria Entrepreneurs span across unlike any other. Whether a Chief Executive leads an entrepreneurial startup, a multi-generational family business, a global conglomerate or a major nonprofit organisation, Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award provides the advantage of a global perspective regardless of where the entrepreneurs reside or do business.

Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award was berthed to celebrate and reward entrepreneurs who have shown outstanding business acumen, leadership and demonstrated outstanding results. So anywhere they are in Nigeria, through our call for nomination we will search them out, and honour them.

How has the journey been so far?

It’s been excellent, challenging, above all exciting. The passion for the entrepreneurial development in Nigeria has been our driving force, that’s why the idea behind the Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award is to imbibe a culture of excellence in young and emerging business leaders and showcase thriving businesses in the Nigerian economy that will serve as model businesses for others to emulate.  Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award recipients include Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi (Founder & CRO, Ruff and Tumble) Halogen Security Ltd, INTELS Nigeria Ltd, Mrs. Uche Pedro (Founder, Bella Naija), Mr. Nnamdi Ezeigbo (Founder Slot Ltd) MTN Communications Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Propertymart Real Estate Investment Ltd, Prof. Charles K. Ayo (Former VC Covenant University), Chief Cosmos Maduka (Chairman, Cosharis Group), Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Dana Air, Kano State governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Ltd, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), amongst many others. This year’s edition which is the 4th in the series, will take place on the 7th of December 2017 at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

How would this initiative benefit startups and other young entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award is regarded as the most celebrated business award in Nigeria providing a platform for young and leading entrepreneurs to network, excellent support services by developing relevant programmes and activities to start and nurture businesses.

My Organisation, Emagez Solutions is determined to champion the awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship within young Nigerians. Research shows that developed economies are driven mainly by the private sector and specifically small and growing businesses. So, we are providing excellent support services to new and existing businesses encourage and promote ethical business practices amongst the local business community. We want to encourage entrepreneurship in every home in Nigeria, thereby, supporting 2,000 businesses each year, to create 100,000 jobs by 2020.

What are the challenges confronting the organisation?

Funds have always been the major challenge, but with our creativity, passion for what we believe in, the result has always been positive.

How do you think entrepreneurship will help the African continent?

If the youths are engaged and productive, Africa will be more developed.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), unemployment in Nigeria is running at around 19.7 per cent on average and almost half of 15 to 24 year olds living in urban areas are jobless. In addition, there is an estimated graduate turnover of over 700,000 yearly, only 10 per cent of these graduates released into the labour market annually by universities and other tertiary institutions are able to obtain paid employment.  Nigeria Entrepreneurs Award is a unique platform created to deliberate on key issues as it affects the total well-being and development of the youths of Nigeria as well as proffer implementable insights and strategies for harnessing the vast potentials of the youths. The Award will bring together the most promising entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

What other initiatives are you involved in?

Learning is lifelong. The world is a limitless classroom, and peer exchange is the ultimate leadership lab. We have the Nigeria Entrepreneurs Investment Summit Group, which has attracted a global participation of Chief Executives with vast experience in any line of work you can think of. Entrepreneurs also find mentors through Nigeria Entrepreneurs Mentorship Programmes, where business leaders with extraordinary success stories are ready and willing to share their expertise with the next generation of leaders and executives.  So, apart from the awards, we have the Nigeria Entrepreneurs Investment Summit Group and Entrepreneurs Mentorship Programme.

What are the lessons you have learnt from this endeavour of
entrepreneurship?

I have learnt never to give up on my dreams; I may start small but i won’t remain small. As an entrepreneur, I expect to hear people say it will never work, so i just stick to my vision; I amplify my impact, because entrepreneurs are the future.

How has the organisation contributed to the growth of the country’s economy?

As Nigeria gabble with the outbreak of unemployment as a major challenge, the hope for a turnaround depends mostly on entrepreneurs. The federal government has shown strong interest in nurturing SMEs, launching funding tools, lowering business registration cost by 60 per cent and adopting pioneering technology in agriculture and financial services. However, little is known about the world of entrepreneurs and issues such as how funding is attained and the obstacles holding them back. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, we have been able to help about 30 per cent of our registered online members’ access small loans, thereby creating jobs and building the Nigeria economy which is of utmost importance.

What are your final words of encouragement to young entrepreneurs?

Don’t quit. When you know better you will do better. It’s important you nurture that new idea or initiative you have. You must identify yourself as an entrepreneur first before you have an identity. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.