As Africa’s most populous country (and the seventh most populous country in the world), Nigeria accounts for between 60 percent and 70 percent of the trade and investment flows in the West Africa sub-region. The human capital implications of this evolving regional dynamic on Nigeria’s trade, investment, economic development and growth is becoming increasingly obvious. The bottom line is that there are huge skills gaps in business management and public sector administration.
IBM decided to help close the skills gap in Nigeria’s small business milieu as part of its social investments and continued commitment to Africa’s economic growth. Recently, we conducted a project management workshop for 30 young entrepreneurs in Lagos – a city of nearly eight million people, and Nigeria’s economic and industrial hub. The workshop was enabled by an IBM Service Grant, and was the first of its kind in the Middle-East/Africa region.
Collaborating with FATE Foundation, a wealth creation and skills development non-governmental organization, the IBM Service Grant Workshop was attended by young entrepreneurs involved in internet marketing, printing, event management, furniture making, catering, agriculture, renewable energy, research, healthcare, carpet retailing and market research. The workshop has helped in no small measure to create fresh organizational perspectives, and prepared the budding entrepreneurs for the competition and business development challenges of their respective sectors.
“As a proactive and responsible corporate citizen, IBM will continue to help galvanize knowledge and skills acquisition for small businesses in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. Despite concerns over funding support for small-sized businesses, finance and cash flow management appears to be the least of their headaches.” – Taiwo Otiti, Country General Manager, IBM West Africa
Skills shortage, education and business management knowledge have been identified as the bane of the small and medium scale enterprises (SME) sector in Nigeria. So, having the right knowledge, the right skills and the right tools and techniques will help these entrepreneurs deliver the right business results.
IBM is committed to narrowing the skills gap and helping small businesses in Nigeria become more efficient in their operations, and the Service Grant Workshop has helped participants to begin to incorporate smart initiatives in their respective businesses.
Remi Abere leads IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs efforts in West Africa.