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Generation Enterprise is an incubator programme that integrates so-called unemployable youth into local economies as entrepreneurs, employers and community leaders. The model is innovative and adapts silicon valley learn start –up methodology to bottom –of-the –pyramid markets and reduces the risk of starting new street-youth-led businesses- Bunmi Otigbade

In this interview, Gerald Kierce the chief marketing officer of the organization and Bunmi Otigbade spoke with Chris Okeke and threw more light on the modus operandi of the organization and its achievements so far.

Your experience in Nigeria
Since I came to Nigeria my experience has been great. I have actually seen first time, how many of the entrepreneurs we are partnering with have completely changed their lives. Some of them have seen more than 50 per cent increases in income, some of them have bought houses, they have got married, they have increased their personal savings they have bought and created new shops and hired people into the company. We have seen this incredible transformation from people that used to work in the streets and don’t have jobs or have odd jobs and
having difficult times.

Through Generation Enterprise we are training them, we are providing them with business skills that they learn, we have actually been able to improve their situation and that has particularly been impactful with me because coming from Washington DC I have always had a passion for International Relations and International Development and I have always had particular passion with Africa. Most of my College friends in University back home were from Africa, Malawi, Kenya and Nigeria and I always want to come to Nigeria. When I came to
Nigeria I had fi rst hand information on the poverty level but also the opportunity.
I think that has been very impactful, seeing that people are ready to work but need a push like partners that believe in them to really make things happen and I think we gonna see a movement right now that redefines how we think about our generation. People think we are a lost generation but we think we are generation enterprise a generation that can truly create and change peoples’ lives.

Can your beneficiaries be absorbed by other industries?

Yes I say a big yes because what we have been trying to give them is not vocational training. Many of them go to vocational training school and at the end of the day they are still unemployed. You know how to make a cake but you are still unemployed and you know how to make a shoe. So our job is that they understand how to set up a business, and how to run a business. So, everything= from marketing, getting customers, accounting, keeping track of your goods, fund raising, feasibility reports because everybody gets to write a business plan. So all of those things that are needed to run a business we impart.

Now, that kind of training is not industry specific, it cuts across industries. So your question is, will they be able to work in other jobs like in a shop in Shope-right and the answer is yes because with the kind of training we give them they are trained to think like the owner of the business. So you are not just going to work and being late you understand that coming late means that powers are been run. So what we do is not just job training, it is entrepreneurial training. And one unique thing about this training is this, many NGOs in Nigeria just do training but if you have been trained without experiencing the job it is nothing. But what we do and one of the best things about the model is this. We find some of our youth from maybe vocational centres where they have already learnt vocational training or from NGOs.

Some of them used to be drug addicts that have been rehabilitated. And you know that if you are a drug addict after your rehabilitation and you don’t have something to do there is the possibility that you will fall back. Like one of our staff a professional prostitute in Suru-Lere, her boss came to collect her. It is that horrible. The ones that have shown commitment to change their lives we recruit them. Then we find the ones that are entrepreneurial because it is not everybody that is entrepreneurial.

I think that is a big mistake that we make. You find a lot of youth just want a stable job, just want to go to where they will pay them something at the end of every month. And there are some that they will never work for anybody, just show him how to do it and he will run with it. We then do training.

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