Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The United States Consulate General Lagos in collaboration with Field of Skills and Dreams VTE Academy has commenced the training of 121 budding Nigerian entrepreneurs in a two-day workshop in Port Harcourt as part of the second edition of the Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs.
This is as the United States Consul General, Lagos, F. John Bray, said only Nigerians have solution to the nation’s socio-economic and political challenges, advising the people to look inwards to solve the problems and put the country on the path of development.
The up-and-coming entrepreneurs, selected from across Nigeria, learned how to transform their ideas into practical business plans, manage business risks, navigate difficult moments, seek capital, and develop partnerships to help their businesses grow.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, Bray said severally Nigerians had asked him what he thought was the solution to Nigeria’s many woes and that he had always responded that he didn’t know because he is not a Nigerian and that only Nigerians know and should therefore solve the country’s problems.
Bray said that one of US Mission Nigeria’s primary goals is to support Nigeria’s economic development stressing, “We do this through a variety of programmes and projects funded by the Department of State, Agriculture, and Commerce as well as USAID”.
The Port Harcourt conference is expected to in two days train about 121 budding Nigerian entrepreneurs selected from across Nigeria on how to transform their ideas into practical business plans, manage business risks, navigate difficult moments, seek capital and develop partnerships to help their businesses grow.
Bray who declared the conference open noted that many economists, including a number of Nigerians maintain that entrepreneurs are the backbone of the 21st century economy adding that the economists point out that in the United States, for instance, it is estimated that 75 per cent of the 16 million businesses are owned by a single person who is almost always an entrepreneur.
“There is growing evidence that entrepreneur the world over are the drivers of job growth. Whether they are creating micro, small, or medium enterprises, entrepreneurs contribute to creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities”, the US Envoy stated.
He added; â€œThere is growing evidence that entrepreneurs the world over are the drivers of job growth. The United States government is firmly convinced that in addition to creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities, entrepreneurship contributes to political stability and a vibrant civil society,â€ Consul General Bray added.
He told participants that in the course of the programme, “we will train you, mentor you, help you refine your ideas, provide you with access to funding and turn you into successful business owners”. Last year was the first time that the Consulate held a conference for up and coming entrepreneurs. I am pleased to tell you that the success of last year’s participants exceeded my expectations”.
In his keynote address, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, represented by his Deputy, Mrs Ipalibo Harry Banigo described the conference as an initiative “we need at a time like this”.
She observed that a recent statistics on the unemployment level of the state was very worrisome stating that that necessitated the state government to develop an online platform that would, among other things provide online training and entrepreneurial skills for young people in the state.
The Deputy Governor said that the State government has in addition also provided entrepreneurial motivation in the state through the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency and the Ministry of Women Affairs.
She said the agency and ministry have provided funds for business owners and entrepreneurs to access soft loans adding the government has also harmonised taxes in the state to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.