The Director, Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies (CENTS), Professor Femi Onifade, has charged graduates of FUNAAB to be good entrepreneurs by striving towards being job-creators. The Director disclosed this during a training programme organised by his Centre in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Altadena, California, as well as the Rotary Club of Sagamu, to help students become job-creators and avoid becoming a liability to the society.
According to him, such “students would be able to fend for themselves while in school and even after graduation. It is a way of assisting us in the University to bring our students together, open their eyes to opportunities available to them so that they won’t say, at the end of the day, they are going for white-collar jobs”. He added that whatever they could do on their own, they should go ahead with it in order to generate income. Professor Onifade stated that Rotary Club had contributed immensely to the development of the community, especially in the area of student empowerment. “The aim is that, based on the exposure of the students we have here, they will be able to help themselves and help others. The University, through CENTS, would be able to continue to train and mentor students in a particular venture, which they would like to go into”. He stressed that CENTS would be willing to offer advisory services to students whenever they wished to set themselves up. “I believe what they have gained during the training has opened their eyes to what they are likely to meet when they have a business venture, how to avoid certain traps and improve their integrity as someone in business”.
In her lecture titled, “Possible Target Markets: Demand and Supply”, Mrs. Mary Udo-Lakeru, described marketing as a very important part of business. According to her, “market your products through the word of mouth, make flyers and create television and radio commercials of products and services”. In the olden days, she said people and business concerns would manufacture certain products and take them to consumers, whether they liked it or not. “These days, as educated as a business manager is, we want people to do marketing the way it ought to be done. Go out, conduct market surveys, find out the needs and wants of your target market, then produce what they have asked for”. She described customer service and advertising as very important components in marketing, saying they were the major “factors that determine how far your market can go, how much profit you are able to make, how much acceptability you have and how much people know about your products and services”.
Mrs. Udo-Lakeru said advertising was part of marketing, saying “the colours, shapes and sizes one makes should appeal to the target audience”. She described herself as an entrepreneur because “I own my business in California. My area of specialisation is Accounting. I am a financial analyst, who addresses the needs of the Sheriffs or Police on the streets. We ascertain how many guns they would need, how many torches, how many booths and how many uniforms they required”. She said that her organisation takes into cognisance, every aspect of the law enforcement officer’s job, adding that “we make a budget which might be implemented in two to three years”.
She added that the overall success of the programme was very good for the participating team because the idea was to change the mindset of the students, adding that this was evident from the students’ testimonies. “Some of them thought they would finish in school, get their certificates and start looking for jobs but it doesn’t work that way anymore”, she noted.
On business plans, she said, “we have given the students a deadline after which the business plans will be scrutinised to the best 10 within a week and eventually sent to California, where the Rotary team will further shortlist and come out with the best three business plans”. She added that “I am a social worker based in the USA and come into Nigeria from time-to-time to conduct trainings. I have been an entrepreneur since the age of about 10, before I left for the USA but I didn’t know that was entrepreneurship. I sold local soft drinks, what the Northerners call kununzaki, I sold it to pay my school fees, buy my books and uniform. I also sold sugarcane. I did a lot then and I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur at that time. I have been an entrepreneur for a long time”, she said.
Similarly, Mrs. Sarah Philips, who trained as a marriage-family therapist in California, and lectured the students on the topic, “Roles and Contributions of Entrepreneurs to Society”, noted that entrepreneurs were the engine room that make the society grow because they create jobs, improve the economy, identify the problems in the society and proffer solutions to them.
Professor John Frykenberg, whose lecture was titled, “Identifying Opportunities”, highlighted the importance of prior planning in entrepreneurship, while Professor John Davis spoke on “Problems, Opportunities, Risks, Obstacles and Rewards of Entrepreneurs”.
In his lecture titled, “Becoming Your Own Boss”, the Managing Director and the Chief Executive Officer YOMTAB Testimony Farms, Abeokuta, Mr. Yomi Banjo, a 1996 graduate of FUNAAB, stated that “becoming your own boss is a commandment of God”. He added that in order to become one’s boss, one should be ready to take serious life decisions. The President of Rotary Club of Sagamu-Central, District 9110, Rotarian Bisola Asaye, admonished the students, who had participated in the training programme, to submit well-written business plans to the University within a month of completion.
Reacting, Miss Shokunbi Ganiyat, a student in the Department of Banking and Finance, said her participation had changed her orientation to life. According to her, she is now equipped with what it takes to start a jewellery business as soon as possible. Mr. Balogun Olasupo of the Department of Economics was another student that was inspired by the training. He said that he had a barbing salon before gaining admission into the University but had to shut it down on resumption. He disclosed that with the knowledge gained, he would now go back to his barbing salon on a larger scale because he had no intention of working for anybody. Mrs. Chi Olajide, who runs Cakeville, a confectionery outfit, said that the workshop was an eye-opener on the intricacies of starting up a business, especially for students. She added that the workshop had sharpened her skills in the areas of accounting and marketing. Highpoint of the programme was the presentation of certificates to successful participants and the handing-over of the two brand new laptops to the University, for onward presentation to the two students with the best business plans.