Despite being one of the smaller states in Nigeria, the young and innovative population of Ekiti holds the potential to unlock $443 million (about N203.7 billion) of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the region’s economy.
This was shared by an economic advisor and advisory board member for the US-Africa Trade Council, Olusiji Aina, during a panel discussion at the recent youth event held in partnership between Innovate UK KTN Global Alliance Africa and The Convergence in the state.
With over 2,000 young people in attendance, the group explored the potential of innovation to unlock investment and job opportunities for the Ekiti youths.
“The young people of Ekiti are in a very advantageous position. On one hand, they have been blessed with abundance of natural resources while on the other, they have direct access to Nigeria’s large consumer demand.
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“This means 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,” Aina said.
These thoughts were echoed by the Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, Kola Akosile, who agreed that youth innovation in Ekiti State is a vital component of the region’s future success.
However, the CEO of Technology and Entrepreneurship Hub, Illesanmi Ade–Ademola, said becoming a successful innovator is no easy task.
“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,” he said.
On his part, the CEO of Elab Impact Consulting, Uchendu Egbuna, called for the establishment of a series of innovation sandboxes for Ekiti youths.
“I say this because theoretical knowledge of entrepreneurship is one thing, but to truly be innovative, you must understand how to create value. It needs to be complemented with experimentation and hands-on experience, because it is only through trial and error that you become better at creating value and identifying gaps and opportunities in the market,” Egbuna said.