Youths in Nigeria Breathe Life Into Social Entrepreneurship
Upon purchasing an expensive ornament made of old corn husks, Olamide Ayeni-Babajide had an idea for Nigeria’s solution to its waste problem. In 2016, she started Pearl Recycling, which remakes solid waste like old tyres into furniture in Lagos, Africa’s most populated city with 21 million people and home to one of the largest garbage sites in the world.
The social enterprise, which is a business that aims to do good, is also looking into handling the unemployment problem for Nigerian youths. It trains hundreds of teens to recycle disused materials, with many of them going into setting up their waste ventures. According to Ayeni-Babajide, Nigeria is the right place for social entrepreneurs since there are diverse problems to be solved.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s second world poll on the best country to be a social entrepreneur found that among the 45 biggest economies, three African Nations, South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt, failed to make the top twenty. However, Nigeria came six when around 900 social enterprise experts were asked where youths are playing a vital role in the growing sector. Egypt was ranked at position four while South Africa was at place 34, supported by Deutsche bank.
In Nigeria, a country where the median age is about 18, youths are rising to find business solutions to challenges ranging from environmental to poverty to cultural issues, from illiteracy to pollution, things neglected by the government. Facing a youth unemployment crisis, with more than half of 15-35-year-olds lacking full-time jobs, a new generation of social entrepreneurs wishes to create opportunities and economic prosperity on their own.
Femi Taiwo, an executive director of LEAP Africa, said that encouragement for faith-based entities, motivational speakers, an array of international and local programs, and competitions for young leaders has helped pave the way. Taiwo says that these initiatives and many more place a spotlight on young people making a difference, and inspired many to jump into the bandwagon.