The main causes of poverty in Nigeria are unemployment, ignorance, poor governance, corruption, high inflation, environmental degradation, high population growth, among others. Youth unemployment is one of the principal social and economic challenges of this decade in Europe, Africa and around the world. Long spells of unemployment can have serious long-term effects for individuals, such as reduced earnings and social exclusion. This problem is as a result of two major deficiencies: Poor entrepreneurship and leadership skills and bad leadership system. It is a proven fact that the following challenges exists in relation to young people in Nigeria as a whole : .
The British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ambassador Paul Arkwright once described African countries as great in potentials but lacking in good leadership system. He added that until leaders of African countries shun egotism, the socio political and economic growth within the continent may be hindered. True leadership should be viewed from the perception of rendering services to the people rather than turning the citizens into victims of servitude. .
In the same vein, Brigadier Charles Calder of the British Armed Forces said, “I would like to move onto a subject very close to my heart, and one that I have studied endlessly during my military career and that is leadership. And I have to say that when I think about the causes of the problems facing Africa I come to the conclusion that at heart the common denominator is a lack of effective leadership”. .
He furthered “But I am not talking about a brand of leadership epitomised by the cult of the ‘big man’, or a style of leadership which requires masses of protocol and huge security details and outriders. No, I am talking about a leadership style that is authentic and what has come to be known as the ‘servant leader’ model. “ YELEAP can certainly be part of the response. This is because programmes that address multiple barriers to employment, such as combining skills training with access to capital and leadership skills are most effective at combating youth unemployment in Africa. At YELEAP, we have observed other government and non-governmental programmes devoted to solving these problems, highlighted best practices and provided recommendations for entrepreneurship and leadership programmes more broadly for efficacy. Hence, we are poised to re-invent youth entrepreneurship and leadership for national prosperity. .
It is our belief at Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Project (YELEAP) that Africa’s greatest need is transformational entrepreneurship and leadership. Too often, Nigerians only invest in addressing the symptoms of poor leadership in Nigeria: we give blankets, food, and medicine to those impacted by war, poverty, and famine. But these efforts will never stop unless we develop leaders who prevent wars, entrepreneurs who create jobs, and innovators that develop lasting solutions to the root causes of Nigeria’s problems. We at YELEAP aim to develop the future Nelson Mandela, the next Wangari Maathai, and the African Mark Zuckerbergs and Bill Gates. .
Educational institutions across the world are broken. We’ve all heard the calls for reform; experts such as Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, Paul Tough and YELEAP’s own management team members, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at American University of Nigeria, Yola - Lukman Raimi; Doctor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Ebonyi State University – Gabriel O.C. Udu; Doctor of Political Science at Michael Otedola College of Education - Dr. Sulaimon Muse and Doctor of Entrepreneurship/Director of Entrepreneurship at Federal College of Education, Zaria – Amina Sani , have argued that schools need to transform from an archaic model built to train civil servants and factory workers. According to them, the school of the 21st century should develop youth who are entrepreneurial, with the character and leadership skills to adapt to a rapidly changing world. We call this developing new generation of transformational entrepreneurs and leaders for positive change. .
Though Nigerian youth share many characteristics required for successful entrepreneurship, such as resourcefulness, initiative, drive, imagination, and ambition, they have an increased number of challenges, in terms of launching and running a new venture: .
These and other challenges faced by youth entrepreneurs form the basis for the establishment of YELEAP. Youth is the Future of every nation and inheritors of the earth tomorrow. This statement stands true in every sense. When a country has a healthy youth population, you will find the country making headway in terms of overall development and progress. A country with high aging population and lower youth population has a lot of problems to content with that can slow its growth. .
The world today has transited into a ‘Technology Era’. Technology has enabled progress in all fields and all societies. Technological revolution has changed the face of lives of people bringing healthcare, information and connectivity to even the most remote areas that were hereto isolated. Globalisation has brought countries together and created entire world market. We are seeing a lot of changes in the international political map of the world. Countries are beginning to show determination to move from the old age monarchies and dictatorial regimes towards democracy.
Progress and challenges go hand in hand. One of the major challenges faced by most of the countries in the world today is to do with Youth unemployment. The overall unemployment rate is growing at an alarming speed. Amongst the unemployed, the unemployment of youth seems to be alarming. The current global youth population is estimated to be at 1.5 billion of which 620 million are employable and ninety per cent of this population live in developing countries including Nigeria. The above figures stand to reveal the fact that Global youth unemployment could boomerang to become a global crises causing social and economical impact on all countries besides pushing the economies and progress backward. Though every government as well as World Organisations do frame policies and promote schemes as well as funds to promote youth employment programs, the quantum of such effort is negligible when compared to the huge numbers. Governments are focussed on looking at framework and strategies to creating new jobs and increasing employment rates. However there is an urgent need for the policy makers to look specifically at the Youth unemployment and related issues. In some of the countries youth entrepreneurship is being recognised as a promising alternative and is being actively promoted by various agencies. If promoted actively, Youth entrepreneurship can help sustain growing economies; integrate youth into the workforce besides leading to overall development of society.
Entrepreneurship in any society is a sign of progress. The IT business in US has been the bedrock for youth entrepreneurship and created stars and multi-millionaires in Bill Gates, Steve Jobs to Google’s Sergy Brin and Larry Page and many more. There are similar such stories in other countries too. However, the need of the day is to create many more stars and make available the opportunities for every youth to dream big and try their hands at entrepreneurship.
Youth entrepreneurship has an impact on social as well as cultural and economic progress of the society. Building an environment that promotes creatively and provides opportunities for entrepreneurship calls for multi pronged strategies implementation and involvement at all levels including Government, industry, political, social, NGO as well as educational sectors.
A well organised platform for promotion of Youth Entrepreneurship can help solve as well as avoid a lot of problems that are currently staring at the countries and pave way for a better future and progressive societies world over. YELEAP has the mandate of pursuing entrepreneurial and political leadership excellence by education, advocacy, research; recognising scholars and achievers; providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping the nation’s leadership strategies and policies; and implementing key entrepreneurship and leadership programmes.
YELEAP is particularly committed to the vision of re-inventing the Nigeria we deserve by developing a new generation of transformational entrepreneurs and leaders to actively bring about peace and prosperity for Nigeria in our lifetime.