Hey guys, guess who we have today on BeInspired Show? Mrs Ukinebo Dare, Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Edo State on Skills Development and Jobs…
Meet our Special Guest…
My name is Ukinebo Dare, I am the Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Edo State on Skills Development and Jobs. I’m in charge of the skills development agency popularly known as Edo jobs. When the Governor was campaigning, he promised to create two hundred thousand jobs and he had a very clear vision of how he was going to do that. So my job is to bring that vision to fulfillment and implement his plans.
How did you start working with the Government?
It was not planned definitely. I was running a business called Poised Graduates Finishing Academy which I have been running since January 2010 and everything we do was really about connecting young people to jobs, very similar to what I do right now. But I was doing that as a social entrepreneur, was also running an NGO doing the same thing at the same time. I got introduced to the Edo State Government funnily enough by the US Government, because I was selected by the Madela Washington Fellow, and the US Embassy wrote to all the Governors in Nigeria, introducing the young people they had selected, that ‘these people are people that are doing great things in Nigeria and if you like, you can work with them, in case you are interested in what they do’. The funny part was that, of all the 36 states, it was only Edo State Governor that called the US Embassy and said they wanted to meet with the fellows from their state. So I was blessed among those, and upon meeting the members of the state government, they identified the fact that job creation is something the government is very interested in and that’s how I got here.
How would you describe the place of entrepreneurship presently in the state and country?
We should all know that no money is made in any economy without entrepreneurs. Every other person spends money, entrepreneurs create money. Entrepreneurship is key, whether small scale, micro or large scale. And of course, small scales businesses and entrepreneurs are the largest employers of labour in Nigeria and even across the world. It’s an important field that needs a lot of attention from every stake holders and that’s why you find a lot of programmes that are trying to create jobs, and trying to prevent trafficking and illegal migration. What ever people are trying to do, the first thing they think of is ‘how do we get more people to go into entrepreneurship so they can create jobs?’
A lot of persons see entrepreneurship as a way to make money, and not necessarily creating wealth, getting a job and not creating jobs, what do you say about this?
Yes, a lot of entrepreneurs see entrepreneurship as a way to make money, which it is, but it’s not an easy way to make money. Its more easier to be on a job, work on it, get promoted, keep going like that and you know, you will get money. Entrepreneurship is a lot of hard work, it’s a labour of love and that is why if you are going to go into entrepreneurship, you should ensure you are doing it in a field you are passionate about. Otherwise, you find a lot of people who are entrepreneurs, they call themselves serial entrepreneurs with many mediocre businesses or failed businesses but the true serial entrepreneur is doing a lot of businesses and they are all successful. So doing anything that comes your way, it can be called entrepreneurship, but that’s not the kind of entrepreneurship you are going for. Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, to really make it big, you have to do the same thing; you have to be diligent, you have to be hardworking, you have to be excellent, you have to be the best. You have to go out there and you have to give value. So entrepreneurship is not a short cut, it’s a difficult cut (laughs)…. But it can be very fulfilling definitely, when you do it rightly.
Having worked for the government, which you still do, what do you think are some of the urgent steps the government can take in terms of promoting entrepreneurship?
Of course, the government has a big role to play in promoting entrepreneurship. Especially Governments that are serious about creating jobs. Take Edo State Government for example; what are the things we are doing for entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurs need first of all to know how to be successful in their businesses. And then they need client, they need to earn money, they need to improve, they need to employ, they need their value chain to make sense. So in which ever area the government can come in, they should because the more successful entrepreneurs you have, the better your economy.
For example in Edo state, we have the innovation hub, the innovation hub is a place that’s always full and striving with young people with brilliant ideas, brainstorming, collaborating, learning and getting access to opportunity. Now based on the success of the Innovation hub and the impact, the Edo State Government has now set up a hub for Agriculture, helping entrepreneurs within that sector to improve their value chain, having direct access to the farmers, to have access to funds and so many other things. And now Edo State Government is doing the production hub (now officially opened for business) which helps entrepreneurs in manufacturing and production to have 24 hours light, drop their cost of production drastically, the sky is the limit. So, government should really be looking into how not to become a crush for entrepreneurs because if government is too much into businesses, then, they never really build the capacity to grow and strive and excel. But government should be able to help take away some of the obstacles.
There will still be obstacles and those obstacles are good and necessary because like they say; necessity is the mother of all invention, they help you to grow, they help you to expand, they help you to be creative. But Government should help take away the problems that limit you, while you deal with the ones that make you money.
Many times, when I speak with entrepreneurs, they often mention electricity and funding as their major challenge, how do you think the Government and other bodies can come in here?
Entrepreneurship is every bodies business because that’s what helps the economy to grow, and that is why whether it’s NGO’s, International Organizations, Banks, Government and individuals themselves, entrepreneurship is everybody’s business. So everybody has to play their part. Like I just describe all the project the Edo State government is doing to support entrepreneurs. People in the environment has to support entrepreneurs and support the small entrepreneurs. You have a small scale entrepreneurs doing business beside you, work with that person, try to look for people doing business in your vicinity. They may not be as good as the ones doing business from another country, but if they don’t get clients, what money are they going to use to improve their machine, and improve their skills to do better? Now, apart from entrepreneurship being your concern as a client, entrepreneurship is the concern of universities, people need the right skills. What people really need to run successful business in Nigeria is knowledge! Though we all think it’s money. So people need the right skills to run a business. I have a passion, just because I have a passion does not mean I have what it takes to be successful in that field. Like I always give an example; If I have a natural and beautiful voice, and somebody else has just an average voice, and they go to the best musical school in the world, and I just stay with my natural and beautiful voice, they will sing better than I do. So people who provide trainings for entrepreneurs are very important, everybody is important to entrepreneurs and it’s good for us to know that and play our parts.
If you were made the first female president in Nigeria, what one thing would you do for entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
That is a very interesting question, if I were to be the first female president, the steps I would take to support entrepreneurs would certainly be to provide them with skills, access to funds, and access to market. You need the skills to run your business first, then, when you get funds, you know what to do with them, and then access to market, because there is no point producing anything if you don’t have people to buy it. We have a lot of wonderful things in Nigeria, but it’s interesting, with our large population, we import so many things that can be produced. There are many things that are available in Nigeria, but Nigerians just like buying things that are not made in Nigeria. So helping people see their responsibility to patronize that small business and help it to grow are things that would be very important to me, because we have everything it takes to take care of ourselves, but we don’t just see it and that’s what we need to do.
How would you project the future of Nigeria in say ten years from now?
Ten years from now…, Nigeria should please not be like this. (Laughs..) You know we need to keep improving. I see innovation playing a big role in where Nigeria will be in the next ten years. We have a lot of young people all across the world doing amazing things in the area of IT and innovation and definitely and hopefully, agriculture will be creating a lot of jobs. It’s receiving a lot of attention in recent years, and by recent administration. Though, I think there are still a lot of huge gaps, but I believe within the next ten years of trying and trying, we will get it right. And once we can get it right in agriculture, so many other things will fall in place. Because it will create a lot of jobs, and then, also free up incomes that we are using to buy food from outside the country to do better things in Nigeria.
Nigeria is going in the right direction in a lot of areas, but we need to get rid of those little foxes, those attributes, corruption, self-centeredness, lack of focus, and so many other things. A lot of people talk about Government, Government, but it is all the from the bottom o.. I saw a message somebody posted on social media that they were in a bus, traveling from one state to another and the driver was saying that they were going to destroy the rail network, because the newly installed rail network by the government is affecting their business so fewer people are entering buses on the road now. So the bus drivers were planning how they will go and destroy the rail. We need to change the way we think as human beings in Nigeria, not just leaders, every body. And I believe that if we can do that then, yeah, Nigeria is going in the right direction.
You made mention of Agriculture, and I’m wondering, without constant power supply, how much can be done in that sector?
Of course, it’s embarrassing, you go to so many Africa country and they have light, and you realize it’s not an Africa problem. It’s important that we fix our power issues in Nigeria because that would drive Entrepreneurship. It’s important that alternative solutions begin to strive in Nigeria. And I hope that we can make that happen through policy and legislation and supporting that industry, I believe that in the main time, we have to find a way to make it work. Just like we have the Edo Production Centre today, Government is providing 24 hours light, because we know that it’s important for power to be available for people to do their work. And Nigerians are tired of living in darkness.
Who are a few of your mentors?
I have a very new mentor over the last two years, and everybody that knows me knows that Dr Godwin Obaseki is my mentor. I am so inspired by him. The things he is doing in Edo state, the passion, the desire to make tangible impact in real lives, and you know you are going up hill because you are carrying the burdens of so many people. And he is doing it, never wavering, always sure of what he wants to achieve. He inspires me every single day. Also, my mum is one of my biggest mentors, because she started a business, she was the first person to start a finishing school in Nigeria and she built it up. It’s nineteen years old now and it’s one of the top finishing schools in Nigeria. That’s an entrepreneur that I saw go through every single thing that an entrepreneur in Nigeria can go through and still be at the top of her game. Those are two people that inspires me a lot.
What are your top three rules for success?
Number one as it’s written on my wall;
“The difficult we do immediately, the impossible only takes a little longer”.