The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Saturday in Lagos told youths in Africa to imbibe the culture of integrity and discipline for business success and nation growth.
Osinbajo gave the advice while delivering a lecture entitled “Transforming Africa through Entrepreneurship.’’
He was speaking at the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) 2015 Boot Camp, organised by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).
He said: “The TEF deserves all the commendation and support for putting this programme together, which is, putting his money where his heart is.
“This is an avenue for African youths to come together to unite, learn and also network.
“Enterprise, commerce and society cannot survive without character, so the key word here is character and integrity, which also include respect for rule of law, prompt tax remissions, etc.
“It is a known fact that credit is the live wire of commerce and it behooves every entrepreneur to showcase integrity which reflects in the repayment of loans and keeping the promises of quality.
“TEF has shown that social entrepreneurship is a key aspect of growth and the economy cannot grow without it and government is willing to support the growth of the cause.’’
The vice-president urged the participants to imitate the examples laid by the foundation to support cause of national growth and development.
Also speaking, the Prime Minister of Benin Republic, Mr Lionel Zinsou, lauded TEF for initiating the boot camp to build a generation of young successful entrepreneurs across Africa.
Zinsou said, however, that electricity was a major infrastructure that was militating against the success of businesses in Africa.
He, therefore, urged entrepreneurs to look into businesses of providing renewable energy as an alternative means of providing electricity.
Zinzou also urged youths to embrace technology to grow their businesses, expressing his optimism in the growth of African nations through corporate and entrepreneurial growth.
The Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, in his address, implored government to truly show support for business by creating the enabling environment.
El-Rufai decried the state of insecurity in the country, saying that businesses cannot grow without adequate protection of lives and property, efficient law enforcement and basic infrastructure.
“Businesses need a functioning government because no matter how rich you are, you cannot build your own refinery, road network and so on.
“In Kaduna State, about 80 per cent of the youths are unemployed and it is the same all over the country.
“The government needs to work more on security, policy coherence and flexibility in key growth areas like entrepreneurship and job creation.
“In the light of this, permit me to say that President Buhari is planning to invest more on human capital development, especially in the area of education.
“As our own contribution, I will get a list of indigenes of Kaduna State, who may be willing to invest in the state, in order to offer our own support,” he said.
The Managing Director of Bank of Industry (BoI), Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, at panel discussion, assured beneficiaries of the seed capital adequate support and more loans from BoI.
He said that the bank had formed cluster loans for some sectors like fashion, agriculture and Nollywood, which the entrepreneurs could benefit from.
The Chairman of TEF, Mr Tony Elumelu, said the boot camp was an initiative to support youths across Africa with seed capital, networking and most importantly, the ethics of business.
“The major aspect that makes me tick is that we want to show African youths and the world that we can succeed, despite the harsh environment around here.
“Our main highlight was hammering on the main ingredients of succeeding in business which include hard work, discipline, resilience and knowing the rule of your business.
“Failure is part of business, that is why emotional and workplace intelligence are part of our training modules for the boot camp.
“After this exercise, there is also a formidable monitoring of the fund capital that would be given out and other forms of support would also be given,’’ Elumelu said.
The foundation, he said, lauded the present administration and its development partners for lending their voices of support for the cause of job creation through entrepreneurship.
“It is our duty to call them to order and demand the delivery of these promises by playing our part as reliable business owners looking to build empires that would outlive us,” he added.
The boot camp and training was organised for 1,000 youths out of the 20,000 applicants who applied from 51 countries in Africa.
According to the foundation, TEEP is a 10-year programme, where 1,000 entrepreneurs would be selected annually, trained and given seed capital of $5000 (about N1.2 million).
The foundation said that the top five sectors where applications for capital and support were received were in order of percentage, agriculture, education, commercial retail, ICT and healthcare.