Last month, a student body here at Bayero University, Kano, going by the name ENACTUS invited me to witness an Entrepreneurship Competition as well as to give a motivational speech to ginger their members in doing more. What I ended up witnessing was a spectacle that not only added to my own knowledge, but also assured me that some youths are really on the straight and narrow path of innovation and entrepreneurship, and not that path we are always lamenting about – the path of destruction as ‘celebrated’ last week on World Drugs Day.
As academics, quite a number of us are constantly worried about the sort of students we graduate and send to the ‘marketplace’ of ideas, and the job market. Complaints have always come from Industry that most graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions are mostly full of theory and empty of the practical and the applied – something we sometimes admit in the breach; many of the teachers are also, sadly, like that – bereft of all industry experience, liaison and application. Reason why, for our science-and-engineering-based students (including, thankfully, my own Mass Communication), SIWES (or Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme) was created to remedy the anomaly.
That is why, when I witnessed this Bayero University Kano (BUK) On-Campus Entrepreneurship Competition 2019 I was pleasantly surprised and glad that something is happening. I am now convinced that some of our students, on graduation, shall send no CV to anyone, but will set out on their own paths. Even is we cannot help them financially, it is our duty as teachers and parents and advisors to tell the world the little they do, so that others can come in, buy in, and help them multiply the effort.
This ENACTUS student-led event which is guided by academic advisors and business experts, featured a judged-competition between four student teams: FEAT GUIDE, KENACT, ZAZOO and REEBA. Each of the teams created and presented unique community empowerment projects. The competition was aimed at giving each competing team a chance to share their success stories about how they have been able to make positive impacts on the lives of the inhabitants of their immediate environments.
TEAM ZAZOO presented a project that is aimed at providing people living with disabilities (PLWDs) a means of livelihood through the construction of solar-powered tricycles to ease their mobility in addition to enabling PLWDs carry out petty businesses like charging of phones and selling of recharge cards. The project was carried out as a result of the findings of the Team about the plight of PLWDs and the desire to give them a means of earning an income.
The Team showed the audience videos to demonstrate how the solar tricycles were fabricated, how they are powered, and how the PLWDs could use them. Innovatively, the machine has been made so user-friendly that it was easy for a cripple to mount, ride, dismount, and utilise.
TEAM KANKARE also shared a two-pronged project they have undertaken within the Kankare Community of Kumbotso Local Government Area (LGA) of Kano State (one of the LGAs neighbouring BUK New Site): Women Empowerment and Back-To-School. For the Women Empowerment sub-project, the team had identified over 80 women in that particular community who depended solely on proceeds from their children’s hawking activities to make a living. In plain language, the children of the community have been subjected to child labour as it is their earnings that keep many families afloat. These Talla (Hawker) Children do not go to school, among other ills hawking causes.
The Team creatively designed a way of ‘rescuing’ these children and getting them back to school. The empowerment came in the way of teaching the women – the mothers – the skill of Neem Oil extraction, liquid soap and Vaseline-making skills, connecting them to potential markets and teaching them how to practically manage their businesses for a period of time to ensure that the businesses become self-sustaining.
The related Back-To-School sub-project was as a result of the emancipation of those hawker children from their Talla. It focused on taking the children to a real classroom experience, targeting over 120 vulnerable children. In partnership with the community, the Kumbotso LGA, the State Universal Basic Education Board, NYSC Kano and the Team’s volunteer instructors, the students went to a considerable length to establish a school for this community, now called KENACT PRAGMATIC SCHOOL.
TEAM FEAT GUIDE (with FEAT being an acronym for ‘Female Education in Africa Today’) came with a project aimed at developing science and mathematics skills in girls’ secondary schools. The aim is to equip these young girls with 21st century skills of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) so they can ultimately participate in the global village as equal citizens. The project was carried out in conjunction with the ICT centres of the beneficiary schools with senior secondary school girls as target audience.
As we all know, children of the poor who attend public schools usually end up NOT been admitted into universities for science-related courses such as medicine and engineering. The elite have cornered these ‘juicy’ courses for their own children who go to private schools and have private teachers to boot. In addition, many elite parents undertake several unorthodox means to get their children to cheat the system – from SSCE to UTME to Post-UTME, ab infinitum. Allah Sarki Talakawa!
TEAM REEBA (the Hausa word meaning ‘Profit’) presented their project aimed at providing artisans with business development services and access to funding for their various arts. The project was carried out in conjunction with MAFITA, a Kano-based UK-AID DFID intervention project serving as business development service providers (BDSPs) for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The Team selected some SMEs and provided them with business services hoped to lead to increase in their profit levels. They identified the basic challenges facing the SMEs and advised them on ways out of the challenges. They provided members with current information to enable them keep abreast of current industry developments and emerging opportunities. They also assisted the SMEs with information on funding opportunities from state, regional, and federal funding sources.
The competition judges assessed the presentations (as well as the audience’s reactions to each) and proceeded to announce results based on the judging criteria of “how the Team was able to use entrepreneurial actions to enable progress in an environmental and economically sustainable way.”
Team Zazoo of the PLWDs solar-powered tricycle came first; Team Kankare came second; Team Reeba third; and Team Feat Guide came fourth. The winning team will now be competing with other ENACTUS teams from other tertiary institutions in Nigeria in July for a chance to represent Nigeria at the ENACTUS World Cup slated in September in the United States.
In essence, and for all aims and purposes, each of these Teams was a winner because such social entrepreneurial skills will go a long way in making these students become useful members of their society. In advanced countries, these entrepreneurial skills would be supported, funded and promoted by government and business – and it is the hope of ENACTUS, of with this writer is a patron and advisor, that there will be up-takers among the community to move this forward.
And THAT is what this Column cares about!