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Youth-led innovation can potentially unlock $443 million for Ekiti State – Experts

Ekiti state has a thriving young and innovative population that has the potential to unlock $443 million of internally generated revenue (IGR) for the region’s economy.   

This was stated by Olusiji Aina, an Economic Advisor and Advisory Board Member of the US-Africa Trade Council.

Aina stated this while speaking on a panel at the recent Youth Event held in partnership between Innovate UK KTN Global Alliance Africa and The Convergence.   

The panellist explored the potential of innovation to unlock investment and job opportunities for the youth of Ekiti State. He said: 

  • The young people of Ekiti are in a very advantageous position. On one hand, they have been blessed with an abundance of natural resources while on the other, they have direct access to Nigeria’s large consumer demand. This means that there are ample resources available for them to develop new and exciting products, which can be sold to a market where there is a lot of potential revenue to be generated. If we can help young people to build and scale new businesses, the region stands to benefit tremendously.”  

 Embracing innovative artisanry: Fola Akosile, the VP of the Nigerian association of chambers of commerce, industry, mines and agriculture agreed that youth innovation in Ekiti State is a critical component of the region’s future success and that young people should not be afraid to pursue entrepreneurship as a viable career option in the face of youth unemployment. 

Rather, they should embrace the state’s long-standing artisanal culture, in which citizens were frequently reliant on themselves to innovate. 

Innovation with the right support: However, as the CEO of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Hub, Ilesanmi Ade-Ademola pointed out, becoming a successful innovator is no easy task. He said:

  •  “You can have a great idea, but without the proper support, you won’t get far. This is because as a young person, you don’t have the money, experience, or business connections to help you take your idea off the ground.” 

Need for technical colleges: He also emphasized the importance of expanding support structures for Ekiti’s young innovators and entrepreneurs and went on to say that this necessitates a multi-stakeholder and collaborative approach, with the establishment of more technical schools and colleges where young people can gain a common grounding in how to set up, run, and think like a sustainable business. 

Establishing innovative sandboxes: The CEO of Elab impact Consulting, Uchendu Egbuna, introduced the idea of establishing a series of innovative sandboxes for Ekiti’s youth. He said:

  • I say this because theoretical knowledge of entrepreneurship is one thing, but to truly be innovative, you must understand how to create value…. because it is only through trial and error that you become better at creating value and identifying gaps and opportunities.”

To this end, Egbuna described how sandboxes provide young people with a risk-free environment that allows anyone to develop prototypes and test them with the ultimate goal of bringing a consumer-optimized product to market.  

In conclusion, the panellists concurred that support for a cooperative and collaborative strategy should involve the public, private and civil sectors.