Good morning! I wish to warmly welcome you all to this conference christened “Akwa Ibom Entrepreneurship” conference.
In the heat of COVID-19; the pandemic which ravaged the globe, an idea evolved in my mind to engage the Akwa Ibom Youths in an adventure that will awaken and unlock the entrepreneurial potentials in them.
In May 2020, I set out to sponsor an Entrepreneurial Essay Competition titled: “Inclusive Growth: The Entrepreneurial Environment for Scaling Up Businesses in Akwa Ibom State”. The topic was carefully selected and centered on Akwa Ibom State to encourage our youths to look at ideas and
innovations that could bring about economic revolution in the State.
Our young persons displayed academic capacity as shown in the quality of essays submitted and out of the pool of essays, ten (10) essays were picked after being marked by Dr. Christabel Brownson; a PhD holder in Entrepreneurship. The ten persons were made to defend their essays and three winners were picked.
I must confess, that it was a Herculean task for the “essay defense panelist” to select the winners as all the 10 contestants showed deep understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship and how it could drive development in the State.
In a bit to conclude the essay competition, an award presentation ceremony and conference was considered, hence the reason for this august gathering.
It was no more a difficult task in choosing the topic for the conference as the precursor to the conference was an essay competition centered on entrepreneurship, hence the name “Akwa Ibom Entrepreneurship” conference.
In the build-up to the conference, it became necessary to meet with players in the field of entrepreneurship, so as to understand the tone and languages used and also to see and appreciate the good works the Akwa Ibom Entrepreneurs have done.
In the Meet/Greet Entrepreneurs session, I met several successful and aspiring entrepreneurs in various fields which include food consumables, cosmetology, agriculture, fashion, carpentry and skin care. Each visit the team made, came with a unique, captivating and educating experience.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem of Akwa Ibom State is filled with persons who have innovative ideas, aspirations and zeal to contribute immensely to the economic revolution of Akwa Ibom State. The encouraging story across our visits remained that our entrepreneurs see others in same filed of
production/service delivery as “collaborators” and not as “competitors, hence there is greater chance to commence exporting of Akwa Ibom products/services to the global village in the near future.
However, in the midst of the encouraging story are issues and challenges confronting our entrepreneurs. Some of these are challenges of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. These challenges include: (1) lack of capital (2) difficulties in getting business grants (3) poor state of infrastructure
(4) poor knowledge on how to run a business, etc.
As of today’s state of business in Akwa Ibom, entrepreneurship development has never been this high in the State. Nevertheless, despite the increasing need for entrepreneurship, doing business in Akwa Ibom still needs to be improved. One of the crucial problems of entrepreneurship consists of wrong understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship.
While some understand it as just starting a business, it should be understood as the process of providing goods and services to people in exchange for money.
A business person is not only a person who acts but thinks. Being an entrepreneur nowadays should involve thinking of new ways of solving problems and creating value. It cannot be imagined without innovation and risk-taking.
Also, a business person must show that he/she is able to manage the resources he/she already possesses. Besides, every business person must be talented at making money from “the little” he possesses, that is using different possibilities for his own goal. But note, this goal must be value and
Pondering on the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, one might dare to ask the following questions:
What plans does the Emmanuel Inyang Foundation have to ameliorate the current standard of the Akwa Ibom Entrepreneurs? Was the Meet/Greet Entrepreneurs session an academic session? Or an avenue to understand the plights/challenges facing the entrepreneurs.
In answering the questions, time would not permit I go into details, but to offer an insight into the follow-up plan developed; the Foundation before the third (3rd) quarter of 2021 would procure equipment and simple machineries for some entrepreneurs faced with machinery challenges.
The challenges are enormous and may not be met at once, but with the sum total of efforts by the Foundation and support from spirited individuals, we will thrive to meet the pressing needs of our aspiring entrepreneurs.
Having said so, I urge all Akwa Ibom Youths, University students, Entrepreneurs, Vendors, invited guests and all present to sit back and learn from industry leaders, business specialist and authorities in the filed of innovation, globalization, business, entrepreneurship and sustainability as they will be presenting their lectures in turns.
Also, I urge our youths to ask constructive and meaningful questions when called upon during the lecture session and the entrepreneurial story panel discussion.
I thank you all for finding time to come out to attend this conference today, and I pray our essence of coming out here be met.
May God bless Akwa Ibom Youths
May God bless Akwa Ibom Entrepreneurs
May God bless Akwa Ibom State
May God bless Nigeria.