Nigerian youths have been advised to avail themselves of opportunities that enhance their capacities to develop small businesses that increase access to food, shelter, and clean energy technologies, among other green investments that help in the adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
Such innovative business ideas would qualify them to access loans and grants from international and national financial institutions that are supporting investments in green economy.
This advice came from participants during a recent forum in Lagos to unveil finalists from the Women Green Fellowship Programme, which is aimed at training and mentoring unemployed young Nigerian women in green businesses.
One of the speakers, Ayodele Taofiq, who is the coordinator of the Fellowship, said: “With the increase in graduates’ unemployment and unfriendly business environment for startups, social business models tend to have an edge, explaining why sponsors are willing to partner with them.
“The Women Green Fellowship Programme is a social response to ending the problems of youth unemployment, job creation, social ventures initiatives and attracting new social capitals to help catalyse a new breed of social entrepreneurs that will frontier the creation of clean, safe and sustainable new businesses in the Green Economy, while creating jobs, enabling livelihood for the poor and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Modeled after best global practices, the Women Green Fellowship Programme invites and galvanise active unemployed women graduates across the country to a six-month mentor-led social business accelerator programme. Young women and professionals, through the programme participate, engage and collaborate to identify sustainable solutions to various problems confronting the poor, communities, economy and ecosystem.
“Action will be entrenched in developing capacities and increased support for small businesses that will increase access to food, shelter, clean energy technologies and the adoption of alternative renewable solutions such as solar energy, wind power, bio gas, bio fuels and climate smart agriculture.
“This year, 25 women were selected from across the country to learn, take action and promote green jobs with 100% focus on the green economy throughout Nigeria.”
On opportunities for loan or grants to support youth green businesses, Taofiq explained, “More than $2 million in Impact Investment Fund has already been committed into two CleanEnergy Social Enterprises in the last three years. SMEFUNDS’ capital, working with financial partners, impact investors and venture funds will accelerate a mix of grant, equity and loan to help catalyse best social business ideas from the programme on a rotational basis,” he said.
Discussants observed that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the N-power Graduate Internship Programme and other initiatives, have been trying to support young people to be self-reliant, advising unemployed youths to always go online to look out for empowerment opportunities available for them.
“The time and resources young people spend chatting in Facebook and other social media platforms could have benefitted them the more if they use it to check opportunities online. We tend not to read and that is a problem. There areinformation out there, but we are not accessing them. You go online using your date to check Facebook. Why not use it to fill a few lines for an empowerment programme. It won’t kill you,” said AsekomeZuwarat of the Nigerian local content development and Monitoring Board, who was among the discussants.
They called on Federal Government to support the enterprising women as well other youths to execute their green based business projects.
Climate change though comes with devastating consequence such as flooding, famine, extreme weather and a whole lot of others, it also has its good sides.
One of the good sides of the disaster is that its challenges present unique opportunities for wealth and job creation, which people especially youths in different parts of the world have been exploring for decades.
The occasion tagged “Women Green Fellowship Day Celebration in Lagos” was seen as an opportunity to present to the world, highly enterprising young Nigerian women with climate adaptation business models cutting across diverse areas including checking post-harvest loss by preserving left of foods for donation to charity homes and sale at reduced price.
Another was a greenhouse electronic device for curing jaundice among babies.
By Innocent Onoh