By James Emejo and Adedayo Akinwale
No fewer than 60 young entrepreneurs from each of the country’s six geopolitical zones will access between N60, 000 to N1 million as startup capital to grow their businesses under a landmark initiative to boost job creation and enhance living standards of Nigerians.
The initiative, termed Project 60:60:60 and themed: “Opening Doors of New Entrepreneurship Opportunities (2020-2030)”, is designed to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th independence celebration.
The convener, Hon. Abimbola Daramola said there are further plans to establish 37 entrepreneurship laboratories across the country to boost the capacity of start-ups.
He said the initiative is in line with the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to create 100 million of jobs within the next four to five years.
Addressing journalists in Abuja during the entrepreneurs’ pre-boot camp conversation, the former lawmaker said as the country moves toward the attainment of her 60th independence anniversary, it becomes imperative to set a national agenda for the next decade.
He said project 60:60:60 represents a complementary private sector driven effort to make the next decade (2020-2030) a period to develop permanent agenda to raise new entrepreneurs.
Daramola further identified under-employment, unemployment and joblessness as the greatest challenges confronting Nigerians, adding that at the dawn of the 60th anniversary, the country is heading for recession with 39.4 million jobs under threat, made worse by raging Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, the 60:60:60 initiative basically seeks to give additional value and “make our attainment of this Diamond age impressionable.”
He said: “We want to see how many entrepreneurs that through this initiative we can raise within the next 10 years. For instance, if we set up the 37 entrepreneurship laboratories across the country, we will ensure that 1000 people get trained from those laboratories, which fit into the dream of President Muhammadu Buhari who said that he want to raise a hundred million jobs within the next four to five years.
“You must understand that crude oil is not the mainstay of the economy anymore, people are talking about diversification and many more, it is time to work our talk. In doing this, the private sector’s will is the reason we have started this initiative and I am sure the economy of this country will feel a pinch of the impact of what we are trying to do.”
Further stressing the need to refocus the orientation of Nigerians, the former House of member said going forward, entrepreneurship has to be people-oriented, adding that “Covid-19 is going to make things worse if we don’t plan exit strategies.”
He said: “This vision starts this year as part of our 60th year independence anniversary with the selection of 60 young people with workable creative ideas, skills, and vision from the six geopolitical zones on the basis of their entries.
“The successful ones will attend the 60th independence anniversary entrepreneurship boot camp and thereafter will be given free startup capital or business support fund to take off under guided application of the funds and operational supervision.”