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“Aiming to create 20 million jobs in ten years”
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“Aiming to create 20 million jobs in ten years”

Sola AbeNigeria is suffering an unemployment crisis, but Titus Igwe, one of the innovative and entrepreneurial Igwe twins, talks about giving back to his country by creating 20 million jobs through the YEAST Project in this interview with Sola Abe, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria. 

Just within 36 hours after a new job portal was launched by the Nigerian government, over 400,000 successful registrations and 35 million hits were recorded as of Monday, June 13, 2016!

Given the large number of job-seekers in the country, it is obvious that the government alone cannot tackle the worsening state of unemployment in the country. Not a few people have lost their jobs in recent weeks as a result of the economic crisis rocking the country.

For this reason, many job-seekers are rising to challenge the status quo by acquiring and developing skills to become producers and job creators. A good example is the story of two young Nigerians, known as Igwe twins.

Titus and Tobias Igwe, the brains behind Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen, once had to work as gatekeepers after roaming the streets for four years. They were later promoted to office cleaners.

In what is a dramatic turn, they are now creating jobs through their empowerment initiative called the YEAST (youth employment acceleration strategy) Project.

Q: You recently announced a new initiative called the YEAST Project, what is it about?

Titus Igwe: The YEAST project is Youth Employment Acceleration Strategy. It is a strategy founded to create 20 million jobs by simply putting together and co-ordinating all stakeholders as actors in job creation, and not just leaving it for the government.

It is a strategy that involves skill acquisitions, mentoring; job centres created at different locations, with village enterprises as part of the processes.

We started with what we call a job fair because when we talk about unemployment, from the experiences we have had organising different job fairs in different locations in Lagos, we realised that unemployment has to do with three classes of people. There are the unemployed, that is, those that are qualified, they have the skill, but cannot find anything to do.

Underemployed are the people that are qualified, they have the skill that is needed, but because they cannot find an appropriate job, they settle for menial jobs.

The unemployable don’t have the skills and are unemployed but tell you they can do anything.

When we organise job fairs, we bring different companies together, and have what we call inspirational series where we bring quality speakers to inspire the audience and also give them directions on career goal setting.

When that is done, we do on-the-job recruitment at the job fairs. For instance, at Apapa job fair held some weeks ago, over 36 persons were employed on the spot, while some go for further interviews as companies that have vacancies also participated in the job fair.

Q: What informed the decision to start this project?

Titus Igwe: Before we started Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen, we searched for jobs for over four years but couldn’t get any. We later settled as gate men, thereafter, we were promoted as office cleaners.

We realised after the death and burial of our father that life was not going to be the same again because we were poor and also the first children. So, we used the remaining money we got from the fund raising our church did for us for our father’s burial to acquire a skill, which was cake baking.

We started selling cakes and gradually, we got calls from people who wanted to bake. We had our first break when a customer gave us a job of 90,000 naira, and that was how we got our first equipment. Then we added the food business after our attention was called to it by our customers and that was how Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen was birthed.

The YEAST project is a way of giving back to those who have given to us. It is a project created to empower the unemployed.

Q: How sustainable is this project?

Titus Igwe: The YEAST project is very sustainable. It’s a ten year project to create 20 million jobs. We are planning a stakeholder’s forum and a partnership with the US embassy in Nigeria.

We are looking at the government, private sectors, NGOs, and the media. We are also looking at religious organisations because these unemployed people have churches and mosques where they worship. These religious institutions can also play a part in helping these people get a job and that is why we are bringing them together at the embassy for a stakeholders’ forum.

Under this project, anybody empowered is given a mandate to empower ten others within the space of two years.

For example, when a person has been empowered through this project, ten other persons who want to be trained in the same skill are attached to the person.Those people grow under his or her tutelage.

So, we don’t spend money all the time bringing in facilitators to equip people with skills, we use persons we have already equipped, and they are the multiplying effect.

Photo credit: courtesy of YEAST
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About me: I write for Woman.ng, an online woman magazine that publishes stories that revolves around Nigerian women. My vision is to create media content that will inspire, educate and renew the mind of people. I am passionate about advocating for and empowering abused women.

I hope to be known as a woman that stands against gender based violence. I love to look good, have fun and make new friends. Above all, I love God and pray to become all he wants me to be.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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