Ac­cess Bank and youth en­trepreneur­ship

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Omobolanle Vic­tor-Laniyan Omobolanle Vic­tor-Laniyan is Head of Sus­tain­abil­ity, Ac­cess Bank Plc.

The Nige­rian Na­tional Youth Pol­icy de­fines “youth” as peo­ple between ages 18 and 35 years. Based on the 2016 es­ti­mate of 193 mil­lion as the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try, with 31.7% youth, the Nige­rian youth pop­u­la­tion was 61.3 mil­lion. This youth pop­u­la­tion ex­ceeded the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of some of the wealth­i­est na­tions on earth, in­clud­ing Italy, Canada and South Korea.

Na­tional wealth has cor­re­la­tion with pop­u­la­tion. The world's four most­pop­u­lous coun­tries or ter­ri­to­ries – China, In­dia, the Euro­pean Union and the United States – ac­count for 64.2% of global GDP in 2016. Given its pop­u­la­tion size, Nige­rian youths can be the cat­a­lyst for the coun­try's eco­nomic growth. But in the mean­time, the Nige­rian youth un­em­ploy­ment is ris­ing; it in­creased to 25.2% in the fourth quar­ter of 2016.

The up­ward trend­ing youth un­em­ploy­ment in the coun­try needs to be re­versed. With youth en­trepreneur­ship as a ver­i­ta­ble so­lu­tion, it means the prob­lem of youth un­em­ploy­ment can be solved within the youth de­mog­ra­phy. This is not to say the prob­lem will solve it­self. In­ter­ven­tions to help Nige­rian youths un­leash in­no­va­tion through en­trepreneur­ship to cre­ate jobs are quite crit­i­cal now.

As a re­spon­si­ble in­sti­tu­tion, youth em­pow­er­ment is in­te­gral to the so­cial good Ac­cess Bank Plc ac­tively pur­sues, in line with our broad sus­tain­abil­ity strate­gies. With the Bank's com­mit­ment to sup­port in­no­va­tion, it ac­tively sup­ports en­trepreneur­ship among the youth. We blend ad­vo­cacy with our pro­grammes of sus­tain­abil­ity, which in­clude so­cially- and en­vi­ron­men­tally-re­spon­si­ble fi­nanc­ing as well as giv­ing back to so­ci­ety.

Ac­cord­ingly, Ac­cess Bank part­nered with Ju­nior Achieve­ment Nige­ria to com­mem­o­rate the In­ter­na­tional Youth Day 2017. We jointly or­gan­ised the Youth En­trepreneur­ship Es­say Com­pe­ti­tion. To foster en­trepreneur­ship as a strat­egy for up­ward so­cial mo­bil­ity and na­tional eco­nomic growth, the es­say com­pe­ti­tion elicited from par­tic­i­pants sug­ges­tions of so­lu­tions that could help solve the youth un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis in Nige­ria. Var­i­ous dig­i­tal chan­nels were de­ployed to foster in­ter­ac­tion and knowl­edge-shar­ing among the par­tic­i­pants from var­i­ous parts of the world. This re­flects both the di­ver­sity within Ac­cess Bank as an African bank and a global cor­po­rate cit­i­zen, and in­no­va­tion as the heart­beat of our op­er­a­tions. In all, over 2,000 es­say en­tries were re­ceived.

Mariam Azeez, an Eco­nomics un­der­grad­u­ate of Obafemi Awolowo Univer­sity, South-West, Nige­ria, emerged the win­ner. The young lady in­tones what we al­ready know. When given the op­por­tu­nity, women can prove they are com­pet­i­tive. Women also think busi­ness. On re­ceiv­ing her award, Mariam sub­mit­ted that, to bring about a trans­for­ma­tional change, the coun­try needs to cre­ate a vi­brant en­tre­pre­neur­ial ecosys­tem, not­ing that this is a joint re­spon­si­bil­ity of both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors.

Olayinka Yomi-Tokosi, Head of Youth Bank­ing at Ac­cess Bank, agreed. He said “A great way of in­vest­ing and em­pow­er­ing the youth is to drive them to­wards en­trepreneur­ship, as en­trepreneur­ship cre­ates jobs, in­creases in­no­va­tion, raises com­pe­ti­tion and is re­spon­sive to chang­ing eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties and trends.” This is the essence of Ac­cess Bank. And Amaechi Okobi, Head of Strate­gic Brand Man­age­ment, re­it­er­ated at the pro­gramme of the Awards that “Turn­ing Pas­sion to Port­fo­lio is part of what Ac­cess Bank be­lieves in.”

In June 2016, Ac­cess Bank be­gan a part­ner­ship with the La­gos State Govern­ment to ad­e­quately equip 500 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents with re­quired skill-sets that will help them ex­cel in the cor­po­rate world and en­trepreneur­ship. So far, 21 stu­dents from La­gos State Col­lege of Health, La­gos State Polytech­nic, and La­gos State Univer­sity have com­pleted the in­au­gu­ral six months in­tern­ship pro­gramme.

Th­ese are two of the many pro­grammes of Ac­cess Bank on youth em­pow­er­ment. Gen­er­ally, th­ese pro­grammes are de­signed to be scal­able and ad­dress a wide can­vass of ar­eas of in­ter­ven­tion, with the aim of sen­si­tis­ing on what can be done and in­spir­ing other in­sti­tu­tions to take ac­tions.

Group pho­to­graph at the end of the programme of com­mem­o­ra­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Youth Day 2017 at Ac­cess Bank head­quar­ters, Vic­to­ria Is­land, La­gos.

Omobolanle Vic­tor-Laniyan

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