By Kenneth Jukpor
The second edition of Women in Leadership and Career Empowerment Programme (WILCEP) Africa, an offshoot of MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF) Initiative held recently, providing participants insights into multiple opportunities in blue economy, digital media, oil and gas, and other basic entrepreneurial skills.
MMS WoFHoF is a not-for-profit organization with the pre-occupation of gender equality advocacy, mentorship, leadership training and building the right capacity for entrepreneurial and political engagement, and empowerment for women.
While most Nigerians are over-dependent on those in authority for the basic things such as; security, welfare, shelter, food, education, health, infrastructure, serene environment, and other good things of life; the essence of the WILCEP conference was to enlighten women to move out of such helpless and hopeless state by embracing the opportunities that these societal deficiencies portend. The crux of the training was the need to create value, solve problems, make the society a better place and consequently, enjoy the monetary rewards.
Speaking to MMS Plus newspaper after Day 1 of the conference, the Supervisor for Agriculture at the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area (LGA) Mrs. Shola Oyewole, described the programme as an eye-opener.
Mrs. Oyewole who is also the Supervisor for Women Affairs at the Council said the event was a reminder to Nigerian women that there are several problems in the nation and they could look beyond the government for the solutions to these problems.
“Ideally, who is the government? The government refers to the totality of the people in a state or community. It isn’t just the person at the helm of affairs that constitutes the government. Most times, it is assumed that because certain individuals such as the Local Government Chairmen, Governors and the President know all the problems in the society and have the solutions on their palms; but this impression isn’t correct. These people are individuals who need the support and contribution of the populace who they govern to enable them perform optimally” she said.
She noted that those in authority may not always know the problems and challenges in the society, especially when these problems are caused by the citizens.
“We all wish the government is aware and intervenes on issues like waste management, pollution of the marine environment, etc. We get angry when the government seem not to be doing anything to address these problems, but what have we done as a community or as individuals to help the government? As individuals we can create value by cleaning the environment and people would be willing to pay for such services. We could go into the business of waste management and earn a living while solving a societal problem”, Mrs. Oyewole explained.
Opining that success is finding a need on society and meeting that need, she admonished Nigerian youths especially young women to seek to create value by solving problems to get the financial reward as a result of the value created.
She advised the Nigerian populace not to give up on the government and continuously furnish the government with information to improve their administration and broaden their knowledge about the happenings in the society.
Lamenting that the Nigerian society places too much emphasis on money, she added; “It is high-time we begin to prioritize the idea of creating value and solving needs in the society. My advice to the students here today is to take time to ponder on what they have learnt here. Irrespective of what they intend to become in future, they should always be keen to look out for opportunities to meet societal needs, create value and earn revenue from their efforts. They should look out for other things they could do to make the society a better place”
Mrs. Oyewole equally reserved praise for the organizers of the event, Kings Communication Limited, “the organizers deserve a lot of commendation and I hope they wouldn’t rest on their oars. I intend to make impact in the society with everything I learnt here today. There are so many things we can do rather than wait for the government”
At the event, the Founder of the MMS WoFHoF Initiative, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke recalled his industrious steps while he was still a kid. He stressed that Nigerian youths should learn the value of hardwork and solving problems, rather than mourn about the challenges in the nation.
While encouraging the participants to think ‘ownership and entrepreneurship’, he posited that even the most prominent difficulty which is the unavailability of funds, wouldn’t be able to hold back someone with a strong desire and vision to be successful in any venture.
Speaking further on sourcing funds, Mr. Anaroke said: “You can raise money for your business through several ways. From friends or family; you can also opt to take loans. It depends on the kind of business you intend to go into and how much capital outlay is required. You need to learn how to draw-up a business plan. The essence of your business plan shouldn’t just be to get monies from the banks. You should develop a network around your field. You should get peers as well as mentors to share ideas.”
“Read books that broaden your scope in your chosen profession and attend related conferences. You can go online to find about things but one of the ideal ways to gather information is through networks. You gather more information from people who have hands-on experience on the field and you can put this information down and it is original to you. Networking can also help you get the requisite funding and such relationships can help you avoid mistakes. You have to make yourself visible to people”, he said.
Meanwhile, Miss Eugene Blessing, one of the participants at the event from Unique Toes Mission School in Badagry, Lagos expressed interest in exploring opportunities in the nation’s blue economy.
The SS2 student stated that although she was in the Art department, she would look forward to maximizing the opportunities in tourism, fishing and waste management.
“There are several job opportunities in the maritime sector and I’m aware that women also have a role to play. I’m more courageous now to think that as a female, I could be a boss, a leader and initiate ideas and projects that could change the economic situation of Nigeria.
Blessing expressed confidence that she learnt about managing waste especially on the nation’s waters, saying; “I’m better informed on the dangers of polluting the nation’s waters, and I can admonish young Nigerian women to be bold and courageous to stand out as one of the best leaders the nation could have”
The Group Executive Director/ Company Secretary, Masters Energy Group, Mrs. Patience Dappa presented a paper titled: “Making a Career in Oil and Gas Industry: Prospects and Challenges”.
Mrs. Dappa who was represented at the event by the Managing Director, FirstUnion Excel Limited Mr. Mahmud Dawodu, stressed that the government has realized the need to allow private individuals develop various sectors of the nation’s economy.
According to Mr. Dawodu, this development provides more opportunities for private sector individuals. He admonished the participants to develop initiatives that would thrive on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), noting that the government has become willing to tap into the financial and intellectual capacity of the citizens.
He also advised the government to accommodate courses on entrepreneurship in tertiary institutions as well as senior secondary schools, noting that such innovation was the only way to solve the ravaging menace of unemployment in the nation.
“Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be a one-semester course in tertiary institutions but a four-year training programme for university, polytechnic students and senior secondary schools. That is the only way it would sink into the minds of Nigerian youth that entrepreneurship is the solution to the burden of searching for employment where it doesn’t exist” he said.
Another participant at the training, a 300level student in the department of Business Education from the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in affiliation with the Federal College of Technical Education, Akoka, Ms. Akinwande Oluwatosin said she was thrilled to have learnt so much from the conference.
“This initiative by MMS WoFHoF is a very good one and the aspect of the programme that was about blue economy and digital media are areas that are relatively novel to me. I haven’t paid attention to these issues on the blue environment. I wasn’t aware of the immense opportunities in the water let alone know that one can make money from things like waste recycling” she said.
According to Akinwande, she also learnt a lot from the ICT training such as; “how to create websites and use the social media to make money, promote businesses, I know what to demand from the website designer because I know the details a good website must have” she said.
The schools which participated in the programme include; Unique Toes Mission Secondary School, Badagry, Grace Polytechnic, Surulere, UNIBEN FCET Chapter and Federal College of Technical Education (FCET), Akoka; while a delegation of female leaders at the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Council and Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) Lagos State, graced the occasion.
The Secretary of African Women in Maritime (WIMA) Nigerian chapter, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy, presented a paper titled; “Optimizing the opportunities in Blue Economy”. Other papers presented at the event include: “Becoming skilled in Visual Content Production, Graphics, Video Editing and Photos” by Mr. Kazeem Aweh as Mr. Mathias Nwabueze, an Entrepreneur and Life-Coach presented a paper on “Entrepreneurship: Building New Power Base of the Economy” where the basic requirements of a successful entrepreneur globally was x-rayed while limitations, especially in Nigerian context and how to overcome them were discussed.