In its efforts to encourage youth entrepreneurs to succeed in their various businesses, Zakat and Sadaqah Foundation (ZSF) has given twenty-eight of them N12 million start up grants.
Speaking on the efforts of the foundation, the Executive Director, ZSF, Prince Sulayman Olagunju, said the foundation has been engaging youths to discourage them from seeking greener pasture outside the country through the grants for their various businesses.
Olagunju said grants and trainings worth hundreds of millions of naira have been extended to thousands of youths to start and nurture businesses in the country.
Prince Olagunju spoke during the seventh edition of the Business Plan Competition (BPC) tagged Entrepreneurship Development Training at Westwood Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.
According to Olagunju, the Entrepreneurship Development Project initiative was conceived and rolled out seven years ago to cater for teeming youths with business ideas.
He said: “We want them to believe that they can make it in this country with proper orientation and funding of their business ideas. We thank Allah that we’re achieving our goals because now we have quite a number of youths who would have ordinarily ran out of the country looking for greener pastures, most of them are now staying in the country. They have assisted in coming out with products and goods that if those products were not produced locally, people would have relied on imported ones and we all know the cost of exchange rate these days. And instead of running away, they are staying and managing their businesses here in Nigeria. They have equally become employer of labour.”
Chairman on the occasion, Hajia Thaibat Adeniran, urged Nigerians to find something valuable to do with their knowledge and resources rather than seeking greener pastures in other countries.
Hajia Adeniran, the Managing Director of Halal Takaful Nigeria Limited, said many people engaged in menial jobs abroad just to eke a living.
“Going abroad will never help because they will still suffer; many cannot do things the way they do here over there. Why don’t you use your knowledge and resources to make yourself comfortable in your country? There is an opportunity for exportation of goods. Why don’t we tap into that and earn foreign currencies instead of running abroad to do some menial jobs,” she said.
A member of the screening consultants, Prof Khadijat Idowu from Accounting Department, Lagos State University, (LASU), hailed the foundation for the initiative.
Prof Idowu observed that there are talented people among those that applied for the grant.
Many of them, she said, have much to offer to grow the economy.
“There are so many people that have great business ideas that could grow our economy. We have so many indigenous products that we can export instead of importing all the time. What is required is to fund these business ideas and make the atmosphere conducive for business to thrive. We’ve heard government talking about ease of doing business but the masses are not feeling the impact. The government should walk the talk,” she said.
She cautioned the youth against relocating abroad, saying not all that relocated make it but shame won’t let them return to the country.
A member of the foundation’s Advisory Board, Mr Shuaib Idris, said brain drain is a worldwide challenge.
Idris, however, said the initiative of Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation could help in reducing the brain drain.
He urged wealthy Nigerians to support youths through the foundation.
Idris, a financial and management consultant, also called on youths to get cracking and properly utilise their talents.
“Our youths should get cracking. They should make do with whatever skills they have; no matter how little your skills, you don’t underestimate it. Think outside the box so that you will have the opportunity to earn a living and be a productive citizen,” he said.