Today our own John Davis along with Altadena Rotarian John Frykenberg shared information about their trip to Nigeria where they taught students at two universities about the Rotary Entrepreneur Program. In 1960 Nigeria gained independence with its population of 174 million people. With thirty-six states, Nigeria has the largest GDP in all of Africa, yet only one tenth of the infrastructure. As the largest oil producer in the world Nigeria still has one of the highest unemployment rates, at 40% of the workforce. Unfortunately, there is no Employment Development Department to pay out benefits; they are all on their own. That’s one reason the Entrepreneur Program is so important, to teach students how to write a business plan, seek funding, and implement a “start-up” business, which will provide a living. For this trip, there were four Rotarians, two Nigerian ladies accompanied them as guides, one of which, Sarah, is the Chief Legislative Officer for the Kaduna State (the equivalent to the Secretary of State), along with two to three armed guards carrying AK-47’s as bodyguards. You might recall the Boka Haram Terrorists have been in Nigeria and are a threat to anyone. Despite this terrible threat, Ebola outbreaks and much poverty in this nation, Nigerians are known as the happiest people on earth. The country is about half Muslim, half Christian in religious beliefs.
The largest Nigerian airline is Arik Airlines, which flew the Rotarians in to Ogun State where, enthusiastic students at the university, which teaches roughly 9,000 students, greeted them. John found that power failures were a common occurrence (every couple of hours) and the water was unreliable to drink but the beauty in the early morning was spectacular. Both Johns found Lion tracks, wart hogs, baboons, deer, all close by their suites. After the classes at the University of Abeokuta, an agricultural setting and State school, they went to a federal university named University of Agriculture Funaab where about 15,000 students are taught. After the Entrepreneur Program has completed at the university, the students enter a contest and have sixty days to submit a business plan. The top three winners at each university will receive a tablet complete with their own business plan and can follow through with their plan to open whatever entrepreneurial venture they planned, possibly a restaurant, fish farm or telecommunications.
The Rotary Entrepreneur Program is truly a way to guide people to establish a solid business on their own and gain the self-confidence needed to be successful. Thanks to John Davis and John Frykenberg for helping people help themselves.