I would like to congratulate the NASE for organising this timely and important occasion, a rare of its kind. I congratulate the NASE members for not being just students but entrepreneurs. Promotion of entrepreneurship among students is extremely important, because, 90% of graduates expect government job or organised private sector job. However, only 1 out of 100 graduates gets government job, and 9 out of the 100 gets employed in organised private sector. This means, the chance of being employed after graduation is just 10 out of 100 chances. The reliable option for students/graduates is to create the job by themselves. Working for others limits your income and your success. You could have achieved more and earned more if you work for yourselves or others work for you.
So platform like this awakens the students to this reality and prepare them to be job givers not takers. Being a student does not restrict you from becoming entrepreneur. You might not be taught comprehensive entrepreneurship or business ideas in classrooms, but you have to find way of learning it outside the classrooms. Education is not restricted to schooling, there are so much you can learn outside the school. A true education is not merely learned through text book. It was once said, a child who is only educated in classroom is uneducated. Mark Twain once said “I never let my schooling interfere with my education”. So, your literacy and employability is determined by how educated you are, so be open minded to learn skills and ideas beyond school curriculum, and this will make you independent and effective entrepreneurs.
All of us are intelligent to be anything we want to be; we should not judge ourselves based on a particular measurement. As students, you should not judge yourself based on your class of degree or examination results, because the school examination is not a true test of your knowledge and ability. People learn through different systems, and if you are all subjected to a particular system of instruction, not all of you will be compatible with it, so if you fail the test, that does not mean you are not intelligent. It means you are not comfortable with the method of instruction. There are no bad students, there is only inflexible method of teaching. So, don’t look at your poor result and say, if I cannot make it in school, I will not make it in entrepreneurship too, that is not true.
There were many intelligent people, who did not make it at school, but they eventually excelled. The man that took us to the moon (Wernher Von Braun) failed maths examination three times. So, what you need to do is to figure out how you learn. There is no place and time more appropriate to be educated and to start Entrepreneurship. The more you delay it, the less chances of your peaking, so start now.
Entrepreneurship is about doing something new or differently to maximise your income. It is about identifying the gap or problem, and creating a solution to it. So it is not about doing any kind of business that others do. Think of a new business idea or new way of doing it.
Your background has nothing to do with what you can achieve. Entrepreneurship is not restricted to a group of people or nation. Before the Western civilization, Africa was the home of civilization and innovations. African is the next centre for modern civilization and innovations, but we have to start believing in ourselves. It has to start with you, but you have to be innovative and stop waiting for a job, just create it.
There was a graduate who became frustrated, because he was no longer having income after graduation. He used to save money given to him by his parent anytime he goes to school. So, after graduation, he could not have a source of income. One day, his friend visited him, and the friend became fascinated by the shirt he wore, and he sold the shirt to his friend. This opened his mind to the idea of producing and selling cloth, and as a result he became successful fashion designer.
It is not a bad thing to fail or face some obstacles along the way. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma etc, came from poor background and faced different challenges, but that did not stop them from trying, and they eventually succeeded. It is recommended to start your entrepreneurship early enough to give room for possible falling and rising again. To minimize possible risks, it is advisable to get mentors, and NASE is a platform to get connected with peer mentors. Being a student, it is not excuse not to start entrepreneurship.
Marck Zuckerberg when he was a student he invented Facebook. When he was a child, he created games while other children play games. His entrepreneurship pursuit did not allow him to finish from University. He is now more successful than many of the University graduates.
As student entrepreneurs, you might face challenges. For example, you are expected to attend classes and pass numerous courses, which will limit your commitment to your entrepreneurship. Schooling might distract you a bit, but you have to make the right balance. The current educational curriculum does not give you the efficient skills to be effective entrepreneurs. So, work hard now, so that you can be happier later.
You may lack the capital to implement your ideas, but always remember that your idea is 50% part of the capital, you can reach out to your friends with the money to provide the remaining 50% share of the capital in cash. You can sell some of your gadgets or your properties to start a business. Steve Jobs had to sell his Volkswagen car, and his partner had to sell his scientific calculator to initially set up Apple company, now a leading mobile phone producing and technology development company. So, it is normal to sell off your assets for entrepreneurship purpose. You may not have to start big, but you must dream big.
You have to get rid of fear and doubt in your mind. These are two worst enemies to your success. Your background does not determine your success, don’t be afraid of executing your dreams. No matter the difficulty, don’t kill the dream, just execute it. Your target should not be to get rich quick, but to work hard and persevere. Don’t think less of yourself, and don’t change your status because of the little income you get now. Nowadays young people become eager to change their lifestyles when they get little income, and this makes them trapped in poverty. The first money you get is the parent money, you have to invest it, and the yield is the children money, it also has to be invested to give birth to grandchildren money. It is only when your chain of income reach grandchildren level that you can start to spend for personal expenses.
What you can achieve is subject to your dream, and you have control over your dream, so why not just dream big, Your Challenges are not disadvantages, they are opportunities provided to you to become more resilient and matured to life challenges. Life is full of challenges, and when you are used to overcoming them, you will be resilient to face any challenge, big or small. Those children of the rich, who have everything within their reach are not more advantageous than you, you are stronger than them. A small failure breaks them, but you, a big challenge mean nothing to you, because you are used to it, it will not break you. So, you are better than them, and by that, you have better chances of succeeding, because anytime you fall, you will rise.
Among you, there are those who are working their way through University, they work to earn money and pay for their tuition, and they are performing better. Even after school, they are already ready to face life challenges. They are already prepared to face the worst, and they are used to picking themselves up whenever they fell. They are used to moving through pain, and that is why they are stronger.
Finally, I will leave you with three messages: first, there is no excuse for you not to be entrepreneur. Secondly, whoever told you, you can’t, he is not your friend, find friends who are optimistic and believe in you. Thirdly, try any dream you have, because the worst regret is not about what you did, but about what you did not do. Fourthly, any amazing thing you see in life (aeroplanes, telephone, rockets etc) are made up by people who are not smarter than you, and if they can do it, you too can do it.
Dr. Ahmed Adamu,
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina.