The Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd, Matthieu Seguin; Nigerian Breweries, Jordi Borrut Bel; Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Oyeyimika Adeboye; IBM, Dipo Faulkner, and VEROD Capital Management, Danladi Verhijer among others have endorsed the Nigeria Business League for Youth.
The Nigeria Business League for Youth is a private sector initiative spearheaded by the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC) to remove obstacles impeding opportunities for youth in the country to succeed in their chosen career paths.
It was unveiled on Thursday, 24 September during the NBC’s 2020 Youth Summit themed ‘Positioning for the New Global Economy’ which held virtually. The keynote speaker at the summit was the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare. Other speakers included the Chairman, FirstBank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, and transformational coach, Mr. Jimi Tewe.
Announcing the initiative, the Managing Director, NBC, Matthieu Seguin explained that it reflects the leading consumer packaged goods company’s commitment towards supporting the social and economic development of communities in which it operates.
According to Mr. Seguin, “NBC is passionate about the growth of Nigerian youth, especially given the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At NBC, we pride ourselves in being a youth-focused organization that is committed to the social and economic development of the Nigerian youth. For example, from 2017 till date through our Youth Empowered program alone, over 18,000 youths have been positively impacted.
The events of this year have made it imperative for us to have a relook at our approach towards the development and support of young Nigerians. Taking particular note of the great work that many corporate organizations are doing in the way of much needed interventions for youths, it became obvious that a consortium of efforts by network of private sector organizations will go a long way in addressing the issues. The Nigerian Business League for Youths will do this in alignment with the National Youth Policy which provides an all-inclusive framework to ensure the realization of the full potential of Nigerian youths”.
The keynote speaker and Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who spoke on ‘Strategic Roadmap for Youth Development Post-COVID-19’ charged the youth to turn current challenges into opportunities that guarantee employment and productivity.
The Minister who also had the honour of the launching the Nigeria Business League for Youth, disclosed that his ministry has started recalibrating its youth-oriented initiatives to ensure they deliver the skill sets and support that young people need to succeed now and post-COVID-19.
He cited as an example the Ministry’s DEEL initiative – Digital skills acquisition, Entrepreneurship, Employability and Leadership, a programme aimed at mitigating against youth unemployment through sustainable partnerships with ICT skills hubs, research development, Agric value-chain, sports talent management, and capital financing platforms.
Dare asked privileged citizens to rally support youth in Nigeria by creating a coalition to ensure a swift and coordinated response, which goes beyond meeting immediate needs via palliatives. “Our youth are not a product but a resource to harness,” Dare added.
In her speech entitled ‘Nigerian Youth: Reskilling for Self and National Development’, Chairman, FirstBank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika commended NBC for holding the summit despite the uncertainties of the pandemic.
She also made a case for vocational and entrepreneurial skills, noting that the era of relying on just academic knowledge was long gone.
“We must equip and train our youth to have a mindset for business. The youth should also look at their role within an organisation with the eyes of a business owner. We should provide technical education, bring back the era of City & Guilds. We must plan to deliberately empower our youth, equip and train them to have a mindset for national development,” she said.
Awosika also highlighted the importance of sustainable partnerships in empowering young people, stressing that: “It is not all about digital knowledge, it is about understanding the value-chain of businesses, harmonising skills, and strengthening partnership with passionate partners whose skills you don’t have but need to optimise business”.
She called on stakeholders to help young Nigerians improve their knowledge, set up intervention funds as seed capital for start-ups and initiate a development plan to harness their ideas.
Also speaking at the event, human capital and transformational coach, Mr. Jimi Tewe, applauded the NBC for the summit. Speaking on the topic: ‘Positioning Yourself for Personal and Career Growth’, he stressed the importance of knowledge in navigating the current challenging times.
He said, “if you need a job, you need useable and applicable knowledge post-COVID because in every crisis lies the seed of opportunities”.
He highlighted green collar, blue-collar, digital economy, gig economy, renewable energy distribution, and supply chain, as well as the education economy, as the seven opportunities young people can explore despite the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
“All you need is to take one step forward. Decide not to be a listener but a doer; stay optimistic, be referable, ensure you add value to people, and provide proof of what you have created. This will make you thrive regardless,” said Tewe.
Affirming Nigerian Breweries support for the Nigeria Business League for Youth, the company’s CEO, Borrut Bel, thanked NBC for the initiative and highlighted its interventions for uplifting Nigerian youths. “We are passionate about winning with Nigerians; winning with Nigerians means we understand that we are part of the society and this society is largely comprised of youths. This is a serious commitment from our own side as well and we are happy to join this league.”
Also speaking, the MD of Cadbury Plc, Oyeyimika Adeboye, said it was time the private sector worked with the government to secure the future of Nigerian youths.
“Our contribution from the private sector is to work with government and to partner with government to ensure that our youths are prepped for the future of Nigeria. So, our commitment as Cadbury Nigeria Plc is to work with various private sector enterprises to partner and help to develop our youths and we do this in various ways.”
Chigozie Ejimogu, who represented the MD of Verod Capital, Danladi Verhijer, also affirmed the firm’s commitment to the Nigeria Business League for Youth while commending the initiative.
“We know this is an investment in Nigeria’s future. So, we are honoured to be part of this investment today. We will like to commend the sponsors of this programme. We give our kudos to the visionaries behind it, and we will support solidly in any way we can. Building on what we are already doing, finding courage from what we have seen today, and having the motivation to expand our scope and do more for Nigerian youths.”