Developing entrepreneurship and employability skills in African undergraduates
We were tasked by General Electric to develop programs that give practical expression to the companyls commitment to skills development and reinforce its support for universities in Africa. As many African countries are grappling with high levels of unemployment, the need for skills development to enable young people access job opportunities or go into self-employment is seen as being crucial. We introduced the Universities Business Challenge, a business simulation based competition that has been running form over 20 years in the United Kingdom, to Nigeria and South Africa.
Sponsored by GE, the UBC has been adjudged as a very effective means of developing employability and entrepreneurship skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving, commercial awareness and team-working, in undergraduates.
In Nigeria, 20 universities participated in the maiden edition, with 5 making it to the live finals, held at the Enterprise Development Center, the country‘s leading entrepreneurship training center, part of the Pan Atlantic University.
In South Africa, the schedule included the first comprehensive training programme for lecturers in entrepreneurship and business management, on integrating simulations into their course delivery. Participants were drawn from all South African universities. We also established a collaboration with ENACTUS in South Africa, to deliver the UBC.
The finals took place at GE‘S Africa Innovation Center in Johannesburg, and had teams from 10 universities participating. The programme also included a special competition, in which teams were tasked to come up with innovative renewable energy solutions to address local community needs, much in keeping with GEIS position as a forward-looking technology.
The first Technical University in West Africa commences operations
Ibadan, a sprawling city located in the southwestern part of Nigeria, is also where the first dedicated specialist university focusing exclusively on technical subjects, is located. Established by the Oyo State government, With support from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Tech-U I s mission is to develop skilled manpower in technical areas, with a view to reducing the need for companies to have to bring in expatriate staff because the required skills are lacking locally.
We are advising Tech-U on strategic planning, partnership building with similar institutions around the world, collaboration with the private sector and curriculum development. We are also assisting with the integration of entrepreneurship education into Tech-UIs core curriculum, to improve post-graduation.
Entrepreneurship training for new graduates in Nigeria
The Nigerian National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a mandatory one year compulsory national service for graduates of tertiary institutions in the country. Currently, over 300,000 graduates of universities and polytechnics are mobilized for the service year annually. There has been an increasing focus on equipping the youth corpers with skills and other resources during the service year, to enable them take to self-employment, as a way of reducing the staggering levels of graduate unemployment in the country. The NYSC has also collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry to de-risk credit and ensure access to finance for the youth corpers, who are also given entrepreneurship training.
However, less than 3% of the youth corpers have been able to build successful and viable businesses after the service year. In some cases, they are also struggling with repayments on the loans granted to them to start businesses.
Cognity Advisory was engaged to revamp the entrepreneurship training process of the NYSC. Our approach was to leverage our collaboration with the International Labour Organization, to introduce ILOI s successful entrepreneurship development curriculum; Start & Improve Your Business, to train NYSCls staff drawn from its state operations across the country.
The SIYB curriculum has two distinct parts, which made it the ideal curriculum to deploy for the project. The first section focuses on initial start-up phase and teaches trainees on how to identify business opportunities.
The curriculum also includes a structured post-startup business development support component, which ensures new entrepreneurs receive ongoing support till they find their footing in the business world.
With this approach, NYSC will now be able to deliver good quality entrepreneurship education to its service members and further support them after their new businesses have been launched.
An ICT Hub for Lagos
Lagos is widely regarded as the economic hub of Nigeria, with most of the multinational firms, insurance companies and banks, hosting their headquarters in the state. As part of the state governments strategic drive to boost innovation, job creation and enterprise development, it has embarked on a comprehensive programme to accelerate the development of the Yaba area as an ICT Hub Yaba has been attracting a growing number of technology startups, ICT firms and incubation centres, the state government therefore decided to convert the old Sabo Industrial Park into an ICT Hub
Cognity Advisory has been contracted by the Lagos State government to manage aspects of the programme, in collaboration with other implementing partners The project is aimed at developing the Yaba area as the hub of technological innovation in the country, foster the development of new business opportunities, support the co-creation of innovative ideas amongst budding entrepreneurs and other businesses and generate employment opportunities for the Nigerian youth.
Our roles include conducting review of programme quality, stakeholder management and communication plans, developing a three year performance plan, facilitating entrepreneurial education and building partnerships with other ICT Hubs around the world.
Mainstreaming Artisans into The Formal Economy of Lagos state
The project is an initiative of the Lagos State Government, anchored by the Ministry of Wealth Creation & Employment. The Ministry has oversight for supervising the Artisans Association in Lagos State Nigeria, under their umbrella body called LASCOTA.
Cognity Advisory was contracted by the Ministry to facilitate and implement the project in 2017. We partnered with Kansai Plascon to provide basic training for welders and painters.
Sensitization on the importance of financial inclusion is crucial for artisans, many of which operate using crude business techniques and are unbanked due to several believes they hold.
We conducted a sensitization programme on benefits of being financially included and capacity building in form of financial literacy training for the artisans on basic business management including customer service orientation, marketing & administration, basic book keeping and financial management. The aim was to prepare them for access to funding opportunities from the LSETF and Ibile MFC and equip them with skills to sustainably operate their businesses. As part of our role in the project, our staff conducted data capturing and enrollment of the participating artisans.