7 Things Saraki Said About Young People At Adeleke University

Source: Olu W. Onemola

On Sunday, July 22nd, 2018, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, spoke at the 4th Convocation of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State. In his remarks, he spoke about companies like Jumia and Konga, as well as celebrities like Rihanna. Here are 7 things Saraki said.

1. ON HARNESSING THE POTENTIAL OF YOUNG PEOPLE: “We are an emerging economy with a large youth demographic which constitutes 70 per cent of the population - including those leaving university this year, as in this hall - and we have youthful drive and energy on our side as we seek to bridge this gap. Our population is growing and is on track to hit 400 million by 2050, when we will become the third most populous country in the world. Experts project a huge demographic dividend for us as a country by that time, but only if we can harness the immense potential of our youth driven population now, for innovative ideas that can become large business empires and create the much-needed jobs for our people.”

2. ON FINTECH AND ONLINE MARKETS: “There is no reason why any of today’s graduating students cannot become a Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, net worth $5 billion - or Brian Chesky, a co-founder of Air BnB. Michelle Phan of the cosmetic business Ipsy is now worth $300 million – not bad for someone who first started by uploading her videos on YouTube.” “Of course, Nigeria is not exactly a non-starter in tech, where the impact of youthful innovation is already transforming many sub-sectors, from payment solutions to health outcomes and entertainment. Nigeria is one of the Top Three destinations in Africa for tech investors; and tech start-ups have already put Yaba Lagos on the world map in this regard… FinTechs like Flutterwave and Paystack not only raised over $100 million funding between them in less than two years, they are revolutionising online payments and the adoption of card payments in Nigeria, fueling the growth of online retail ventures similarly powered by young entrepreneurs, of which Jumia and Konga are among the market leaders.”

3. ON MSMEs AND AGRICULTURAL ENTREPRENEURS: “What I would like our graduating students to note is that this frenetic activity is only a drop in the ocean, when we talk about the potential of the tech sector in Nigeria. We have about 15.5 million smartphone users in this country; that translates to only 23 per cent of the population. At 47 per cent, internet penetration captures less than half of the population. There is room for exponential growth still, and analysts are confident that FinTech, for example, has the potential to transform the financial services landscape in Nigeria over the next five years. We are looking to the youth to take up the challenge and grasp the opportunities, to drive entrepreneurship in this area.” “The 8th National Assembly, under my leadership, is focused on strengthening the legislative framework to make Agriculture more investor friendly. We have provided a further boost for the sector through legislation that not only supports existing businesses but encourages the entry of new investors and Agro-preneurs. Believing that entrepreneurship is crucial to success in the various sectors of the economy, and to encourage the greater participation of the private sector, the National Assembly has, since its inception, prioritised the passage of landmark economic laws to enable Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to grow.”

4. ON ACCESS TO CREDIT AND EASE OF DOING BUSINESS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS: “We have carried out legislative reforms that have helped improve Nigeria’s position on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. This is further strengthened by the recent passage of the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which is the most significant business reform law enacted in this country in three decades. It may interest many of your graduating students that it is easier than ever to start your own business, as we have removed much of the regulatory burden in this area. It is now possible for a single person to form a private company; and this is consistent with other trail-blazing economies including the United Kingdom, India and Singapore. A Company Secretary is no longer obligatory for small companies or those with only one shareholder; Annual General Meetings are no longer mandatory; small companies are exempt from having to appoint an auditor and so on. The cumulative effect of the provisions of CAMA means that any of today’s graduates can start a company with relative ease and become an entrepreneur, thus becoming a driver of economic activity in the country.”

5. ON USING CELLPHONES TO START BUSINESSES: “To the graduating students, I will say that it is perhaps true that Nigerian youths are not currently maximising the potential that social media has for stimulating entrepreneurship in many areas, including those that were unheard of just a few years ago. I would like to see more young Nigerians put what they learned in the university to impactful use by leveraging on the social media’s abundant opportunity for business ventures. Entrepreneurship starts with a mindset; form networks, begin to see your phone as a business tool and not just a fashion accessory; get tutorials for starting new businesses or to ginger new business ideas.”

6. ON LESSONS NIGERIAN YOUTHS CAN LEARN FROM RIHANNA: “Do not wait for the jobs to come to you; create the opportunities for yourself and for others; create the jobs. How, some of you may ask? I would say the avenues are all around us. Go beyond watching make-up tutorials on YouTube to thinking about setting up a business to create your own line of cosmetics and skincare products. Rihanna the singer did it. Admittedly, she was already a millionaire many times over as a world famous entertainer, but the point is that she did not content herself with that alone. She ventured and looked for new opportunities, gaps in the market that she could fill, and so she created the wildly successful Fenty range of cosmetics. It is all about being able to identify the opportunity and to grab it with both hands.”

7. ON MADE IN NIGERIA: “The 8th Senate’s Made-In-Nigeria Initiative is also very much geared towards empowering local manufacturers, to see to it that the more than 2 trillion naira that would ordinarily go to other economies for the importation of simple everyday items, can instead energise local production. What it means is that, for entrepreneurs, the market is there for those that can into the manufacturing of such products. Access to power is one of the major challenges in the way anyone in business in Nigeria today, with added snags including the cost of diesel to power generators. Efforts are being made to increase generation and distribution so that we can ease these problems, for greater productivity all round.”