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“The unemployment situation is a time-bomb”
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“The unemployment situation is a time-bomb”

Nearly a quarter of Nigeria’s population is unemployed, raising concerns that disenchanted youth will turn to crime or revolution, writes Biodun Awosusi, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria. But a social entrepreneurship program offers a positive alternative. 

In a bid to tackle unemployment in Nigeria, young graduates are turning into social entrepreneurs and using business models to solve social problems.

Unemployment is a big challenge in Nigeria.  The National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 23.9% of the entire population is without a job. That translates as over 16 million unemployed people as of December 2011.

The consequence of massive unemployment is grave. Political economist Prof. Pat Utomi calls the unemployment situation in the country a time-bomb that can explode anytime, while former President Olusegun Obasanjo says the mass of unemployed people in the country could spark a youth revolution. Already, some of the unemployed have been implicated in crime, electoral violence and even terrorist activities. Strategic steps must be taken to address the situation before it explodes.

Tayo Olosunde, Principal Partner at E-green Services and the company’s convener of training, believes that social entrepreneurship is really the way to go.

“There is a gamut of social challenges in the country,” he says. “They offer opportunities for young people to make a difference in their community and become gainfully employed. Social Entrepreneurship Incubation Training is a viable platform to address the current unemployment challenge.”

As testimonial to the success of the program, Olosunde cites young people who have completed social entrepreneurship training and are making an impact.

“A good example is Otto Orondaam,” he says. “This young man initiated Slum2School project through which over 300 children in Makoko, a slum in Lagos, who have never been to school are now enrolled. Kenechukwu Chizoba started Waste2Wealth to raise awareness about proper waste management and recycling. Temitope Adewoye initiated Neighborhood Study Group, to promote study groups among teenagers in Makoko. We want more people to join the train.”

Social entrepreneurship is the perfect way to re-align the odds of unemployment and underdevelopment, says training director Olatunji Ajani.

“It is a useful platform where the energy and passion of the unemployed can be diverted in order to meet developmental needs of the nation while they create jobs for themselves,” he says.

The training modules have a vote of endorsement from Nigeria’s ICT Ambassador and Ashoka Fellow, Gbenga Sesan.

“I imagine that delivery will be exciting. I wish someone taught me this before I started out. This is for corps members, but it is applicable to even people who already see themselves as social entrepreneurs,” he says.

The current training is targeted at corps members in Lagos State, the economic capital of Nigeria, and runs for four weeks.

 Photo: Michael N. de la Hay/Commonwealth Secretariat

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About me:

I am a highly motivated young medical doctor, content developer, youth development expert and social entrepreneur and an alumnus of the inaugural Discovering Young Leaders Program (DYLP 2012) of Commonwealth Youth Programme-Africa. I was a task force member for the Youth Summary of the UNESCO EFA 2012 Report and a postgraduate student of the UniversityofLiverpool, where I am studying International Management of Health Systems.

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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/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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