“Entrepreneurship Education Is The Solution To Youth Unemployment”
Joycee Awojoodu is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lagos based Oriki, a unique brand name in the cosmetic industry for unisex. She spoke on what Oriki stands for, her passion for entrepreneurship and how to empower more youth to become entrepreneurs.
What led to the setting up of Oriki?
I carefully considered a name that would best reflect the inspired fusion of the brand, blending natural, organic ingredients and scientific research to create extraordinary skin care, hair care and body products that are superior.
The word ‘Oriki’ has a rich ancient history in the Yoruba language. Although the brand is not tribalist in any regard, I was keen on having a brand name with African roots. The literal translation is “Your crown/your origin” and an Oriki name is meant to inspire and bring out the best in an individual.
Just as Oriki is a cultural expression akin to the Continent of Africa, Oriki is a gateway between the best of nature and knowledge and a bridge from farm to factory and botany to beauty.
I have always been passionate about entrepreneurship; from a young age I acquired the nickname Ms. CEO because of my interest to constantly explore various opportunities and monetize them. Beyond that, I was convinced that one of the major contributors to propelling the growth of Africa and narrating Africa’s success story is the rise of entrepreneurs. Nigeria and the continent of Africa as a whole are so rich in natural resources, yet there is a lot of room to harness the resource potentials (both human and raw ingredients) further and that is what Oriki is committed to do. Lastly, I am interested of the expected impact of the product. I wake up every morning persistent and committed to building something greater than me; a company that truly makes a difference that is tangible, sustainable and long-lasting.
Have you done a similar thing before?
Yes. I have developed other businesses before in the power sector, beauty sector and consulting sector. But this is the first time that I am really delving into the personal grooming space with a goal of building a global brand with international standard that is attributed to Africa.
I know it will be worthwhile because I am committed to changing the African story and I find the development of Oriki as part of my plans to fulfill that goal.
How many people do you intend to employ?
Approximately 40 people will be employed, and expansion is expected.
What are the challenges of setting up the business?
Where do I start? I am inspired by the ability to create and carve a niche for myself as an entrepreneur but I am often disappointed at the lack of resources available to assist new entrepreneurs. There is need for a guide to inform people who are starting out their business on the journey to know which banks are most beneficial for small and medium sized businesses, various policies focused on doing business, the export and import requirements area etc. While there are challenges, they do not deter me or prevent my resolve to build Oriki.
Where do you get the seed capital to start the business?
For me, my network played a valuable and critical role in the creation of and investment in Oriki. I wanted to make sure I was adequately prepared to discuss the business with anyone that crossed my path in case a partnership, investment or mentorship opportunity was available. Therefore, I created a business plan to pitch the concept of Oriki to potential investors.
Did your benefit from the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) loans?
No I have not.
What is the norm in other parts of the world for would-be entrepreneurs?
Growing up in the US, I found that information was more readily available and easier to find. There is also a stronger support network that can direct people on where to find grants or loans particularly to the type of business they are starting.
Do you think the banks are doing their best to support the youths in setting up their businesses in Nigeria?
While I have not had a relationship with every one of the Nigerian banks, I haven’t necessarily found a bank with a focus on youths.
In my experience, I have been blessed to have excellent account bank officers who have been very helpful along the way.
What can be done to help the youths to set up their business?
The Ministry of Youth, Corporate Affairs Commission CAC, Banks, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) should set up units directly responsible for handing the affairs of youth entrepreneurs. Information is key and finance is key but most importantly young people need to know where to go for assistance.
Properly designed and well implemented entrepreneurship education is the solution to youth unemployment problem in Nigeria. Youth unemployment is potentially dangerous as it sends disturbing signals to all segments of the Nigerian society. To reduce unemployment, among others, there should be adequate skills development, infrastructure and sound curriculum as well as training of trainers and removal of barriers to youth entrepreneurship. The role of entrepreneurship in curbing the increasing number of unemployed youths cannot be overemphasized.
Human resources should be developed through different programmes in entrepreneurship education, training teachers to implement new curricula that emphasize the development of entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, and promoting entrepreneurship and small enterprise creation and growth within local communities through training programs and consultancy services.
What do you think has changed in the business environment?
Technology has changed the way business is being done in Nigeria. E-commerce has become a huge successful part of internet and tech