I-Youth connects beneficiaries to employers and investors

As part of its post-training plan activities for beneficiaries across the three project states in Nigeria, the Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) project (formerly known as Young Africa Works) organized a two-day conference in Lagos to link the beneficiaries in the states to investors and potential employers.

The conference, which focused on the project’s entrepreneurship and employment track beneficiaries, brought together stakeholders in the agricultural sector to give guidance on marketing, input supply, accessing funds for agribusiness establishment, and job recruitment agencies for dignified employment placement.

While addressing conference participants, I-Youth Executive Manager Aline Mugisho sought the government’s support to create an enabling environment with policies to help youths succeed in the agricultural sector. She said they would flourish along with other initiatives, including mentorship and coaching, technology, online business growth, and opportunities available with the State Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

I-Youth Executive Manager Aline Mugisho addressing participants at the conference.

The first day of the conference targeted the employment track beneficiaries, with representatives of various financial institutions guiding the youth on the best way to present their business plans for funding opportunities available in the banks. During the panel discussion on youth entrepreneurship and the current finance model in Nigeria, representatives of financial institutions agreed that a convincing business plan is the first and basic requirement for the youth to access loans. While encouraging the beneficiaries to form cooperatives for easy access to loans, the financial institutions all indicated their interest in providing the trained project beneficiaries with loan facilities.

Also, the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) representative, Chief Kola Akosile, stressed the possibility of linking the beneficiaries to off-takers.

The panel discussion on youth access to markets addressed the challenges, prospects, viable markets, and enabling environment. The panelists, who were all players in agricultural marketing and input supply system, emphasized that studying and understanding the environment in which the agripreneurs operate is vital.

Panel discussion on youth entrepreneurship and the current finance model in Nigeria.

The second day of the conference focused on the employment track beneficiaries, where representatives from the recruitment and employment agencies participated and offered refresher courses to the youth, providing mentorship on developing CVs and guiding them through the interview process. Speaking on the facts and solutions to the employability of Nigerian graduate youth, the panelists all stressed that personal presentation skills in CV and cover letter writing form one of the major hindrances to young people securing employment.

To address this, the representative of Jobberman, one of the I-Youth project partners, provided a refresher session focusing on CV writing, attending interviews, salary negotiation, and personal presentation.

Highlights of the event included testimonies from beneficiaries who have started their businesses and secured gainful employment. There was also an exhibition of products from the beneficiaries.

A similar conference will take place in Kano and Kaduna in August.

The conference was also an opportunity for the beneficiaries to network among themselves and mentors who will guide them through growth.

In the first year of implementation, the I-Youth project has trained over 6,000 beneficiaries in Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos states. Some have established their businesses and others have secured employment in the agri-food sector. Some other participants have developed their business plans, which are being reviewed; they will be linked to one of the project’s partners, Sterling Bank, for funding opportunities.

I-YouthIITA News no 2596

Evans Samuel • 16th July 2021

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