Ekiti set to back entrepreneurs with cash

The Ekiti State Entrepreneurship Week has given young entrepreneurs in the state the chance to showcase their talents and get grants to grow their businesses. RAZAQ IBRAHIM reports

 

The maiden edition of the Ekiti State Entrepreneurship Week will linger in many people’s memories.

During the three-day event, Ekiti people proved to visitors and industry leaders that they have human and natural resources waiting to be tapped. They also demonstrated that they have, in surplus, home-grown start-up that can be developed to big businesses.

Experts and career mentors in fashion, photography and entrepreneurship, who served as resource persons at the event, were impressed by the vastness of the people in various areas of human endeavour. The event was chaired by wife of the Ekiti State Governor, Bisi Fayemi and powered by the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.

Among other activities, participants at the event had the opportunity of participating in master class, job fair, fashion runway, financial empowerment session and talent hunts. There were also various exhibition stands which served as platform for the men and women to showcase their locally-made products.

Aside individuals, entrepreneur unit of the Ekiti State University, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti and the College of Education, Ikere also identified with the initiatives as they displayed various products, ranging from agriculture, fabrics and art works. Also on display were natural resources such as kaolin, raw gold, local rice, local fabrics, art and craft materials and local farm products identified with various local government areas.

On the importance of the initiative to Ekiti economy, heads of the Community Development Department of various local governments, commended the governor and his team, even as they observed that the publicity for this year’s edition was not enough.

While acknowledging the fact that it would go a long way in showing to the world the abundant resources available in Ekiti, they urged the youth to leverage the platform to become self-reliant.

One of the exhibitors, Mofebisola Oyebade-Omopeloye, a Princess of Ogotun Ekiti and Chief Creative Director of Extera Concept, a mat weaving Startup Company, said she decided to go into the business to re-awaken the mat weaving industry associated with the Ogotun Ekiti women.

“What we do is to create contemporary items with mats because the ages of sleeping on mat are almost gone. That was why I decided to be producing what people can use every day with mats,” she said.

Oyebade-Omopeolye, a holder of Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Pan-Atlantic University, said her decision to embrace the mat-weaving industry began after completing the National Youth Service Corps scheme in 2015.

“I came home after the national service and realised that mat weaving was no more popular the way it was when we were growing up and I thought of reviving it. Few years after, I must confess that I have not regretted it as we have been able to produce many contemporary items from mat that can fit into any society and go with any dress,” she added.

For the duo of Dr. Olujoke Akinrujomu and Mrs. Oladipupo Folakemi, Heads of Department of Fine and Applied Arts and Home Economics respectively in Ekiti State College of Education, the initiative was first of its kind in Ekiti.

They admitted that with the entrepreneurial week, the state government has not only given exposure to Ekiti business owners but also has given many of them their meal tickets.

The most exciting aspect of the event was the Fashion Runway, which brought to the fore the beauties of Ekiti fabrics and the creative ingenuity of fashion designers scattered across the state. Aside the fact that the dresses were locally designed, beautiful young men and ladies, who cat-walked to showcase the clothes were also drawn from various communities and institutions in Ekiti.

On the uniqueness of the fashion parade, the President, Fashion Designers’ Association of Nigeria (FADAN), Funmi Ajila-Ladipo, said she was stunned by the products by Ekiti fashion designers and the dexterity of the hair stylists and makeup artists from the state, who worked on the models with little or no supervision.

Ajila-Ladipo said: “With what I have seen in the last three days, I’m confident that Ekiti has what it takes to take fashion to the greatest height.  All the attires were made by local designers and the hairdos of the models were handled by a young man in Ado-Ekiti. We only told them what we wanted and they gave us the best,” she said.

Corroborating Ajila-Ladipo’s position, Ronke Ademiluyi of African Fashion Week, London, Nigeria, Dubai and Brazil and Toyosi Bamisile of Orante both expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the fashion show.

Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi identified the development of entrepreneurship as a major solution to unemployment and various challenges facing the country in areas of health, housing, agriculture and security and other sectors of the economy.

The governor said his administration had started implementing policies that will not just support education for the sake of holding certificates but equip holders of certificates to be capable of applying the knowledge gained to proffer solutions to numerous problems confronting the state and Nigeria in general.

Dr. Fayemi noted that the nation’s academic framework had produced job seekers without any conscious attention to producing those who will create jobs. He said rather than follow the trend; his administration would encourage an education system which promotes harmonious relationship between the school system and the industries.

Read Also: Union Bank holds leadership seminar for entreprenuers

No fewer than 2,000 young entrepreneurs, drawn from different fields and vocations, would be supported during and after the three-day programme, aimed at re-igniting entrepreneurship spirit among Ekiti people.

Fayemi  said: “It is in realisation of this universally embraced panacea to the rising global unemployment that the concept of hosting Entrepreneurship Week on annual basis was conceived. We have seen that many corporate leaders and global technology giants learned more outside the walls of the classroom just because of their innate curiosity to solve certain problems or challenges facing the society or the global community.

“As we gather for this three-day programme incorporating training, capacity building and talent hunts, I am hopeful that through this programme we will be able to note the core areas that need the attention of policy makers and practitioners in promoting and developing entrepreneurship in Ekiti State.”

The governor urged stakeholders to continue to support youth empowerment programmes that will enhance the potential of “our teeming youths and equally floods our society with more job creators and less job seekers.”

The Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Entrepreneurship Week, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, said the planning committee was keen in exploring ways in which the unique skills and talents of Ekiti people could be highlighted, not just for showcasing but to attract concrete support and investments.

She revealed that a number of the participants of the programme would get various forms of empowerment and employment opportunities from institutions such as the Bank of Industry, AGMEIS and Longrich, while there will be revolving loans for local creative artisans in the pottery, mat weaving and aso oke sectors.

She expressed optimism that the programme would be a permanent feature since “Ekiti people cherish hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence.”

Commissioner for Investment, Trade and Industries Olusoga David urged the participants to make good use of what they would learn from the programme; saying that the programme was aimed at raising entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Fayemi revealed this at the closing session of the event. The support, according to her, includes providing them more opportunities to showcase their talents, assisting them with funds for expansion and linking them with mentors.

Mrs. Fayemi, who presented awards to some participants with very outstanding and innovative business ideas and projects, said she was delighted at the enthusiasm of the participants, adding that government’s plan to enhance the capacity of young entrepreneurs to become providers of employment.

 

I am hopeful that through this programme we will be able to note the core areas that need the attention of policy makers and practitioners in promoting and developing entrepreneurship in Ekiti State

 

 

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