MTN, the largest telecoms operator in Nigeria is empowering startups and providing employment for them, in order to address the challenges of Nigerian entrepreneurs.
According to Trading Economics, the employment rate in Nigeria decreased to 77.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 from 76.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. Correspondingly, the country’s unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 from 22.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. For Nigerian youths, the situation appears to be tinged with bleakness as the unemployment rate in that demography skyrocketed to nearly 20 per cent in 2019, as opposed to 9.84 per cent six years ago. This calls for concern when compared to other African countries such as Tanzania (3.4 per cent in 2019), Togo (2.5 per cent), Malawi (7.1 per cent), Gambia (12.3 per cent) and Sierra Leone’s ( 8.5 per cent).
Experts recommend entrepreneurship as the foundation of any developed nation. The Registrar, Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria (ICA), Professor Chris Onalo, has stated that the government must increasingly work to improve the ease of doing business by developing and implementing more pro-market policies, and making the business environment more attractive to investors. This also includes startups.
With all its trappings and the psychological preparation required, entrepreneurship may still be one of the most feasible options for the country’s rapidly growing unemployed population. Alejandro Cremades, Author of The Art of Startup Fundraising and Serial Entrepreneur, shared in Forbes that generally, fundraising is one of the biggest challenges of an entrepreneur. Recognising these variables, MTN created the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, (YEDP), to aid young Nigerian entrepreneurs. It began in 2019, with a selection process that streamlined hundreds of applicants to 75 candidates. These candidates were selected from a pool of recipients of the Foundation’s scholarship schemes – MTN Foundation Science and Technology Scholarship Scheme (MTNF STSS) Scheme and MTN Foundation Scholarship Scheme for Blind Students (MTNF SBS).