To say that unemployment in Africa is at astronomical levels is an understatement. Across the continent, about 10 million to 12 million young people join the labour market each year. Many of these graduates and secondary school leavers are stranded at the bus stop of life, waiting for white-jobs in big companies (preferably multinational companies).
They wait to be selected, to be picked, to be told they are good enough to the big jobs, instead of selecting themselves to do something big, starting where they are and with what they have. Some others are waiting for some big and influential man/woman somewhere (whether Daddy, Uncle, Aunt etc) to recommend them.
Waiting for a well-paid job very well seems to be the norm. Thank God for LinkedIn. Many are waiting to be hired. While you wait, is it possible to create your own business and hire yourself?
Nonyelum Ibeh has been doing just that since she was eleven. Without the knowledge and consent of her parents, she started out selling processed bitter leaves as a student of the Federal Government Girls’ College, Port Harcourt, South-South Nigeria.
Even at a young age, she showed she understood the need to scale her business when she added a food seasoning (Maggi Cubes) to her merchandise. Her father later found out about her trading exploits and promptly an end to her growing business. What is stopping you from starting your first business?
In Nigeria, upon leaving the higher institutions, every graduate is expected to invest one year of service to the country under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme. During this year, they are posted to government establishments, public schools and some private business across the country to work and add value. Where did you serve during your NYSC year?
During Nonyelum’s NYSC year in 2011, being one with an eye for business opportunities, she saw a need for table water in city of Umuahia, South East Nigeria. It is important to note that Umuahia is not a major city like Lagos or Abuja or Cape Town or Kampala.
In a time when fresh graduates are running to major cities in search of big jobs, Nonyelum saw opportunities there in a relatively small city and she exploited them. Can you see business opportunities where you are right now?
She became the sole distributor of Sidoni Premium Table Water in the State. A business she started with 200,000 Naira (about US$1,100), three (3) employees and two outlets in the city, she grew the business to record an annual turnover of 11 million naira (about US$59,500) in its first year of business. What did you achieve with your NYSC year?
Nonyelum Ibeh saw yet another need and in September 2012, she did something about it. This time, she opened the first modern unisex salon with a spa in Umuahia with an investment of 3 million Naira (about US$16,200). She named it, The Weaves and Clippers Hair Salon.
With a nine members of staff, within a year, her Salon and Spa generated a turnover of 5 Million Naira (about US$27,000). Amazing stuff!! When are you starting your next business? When are you seizing the new opportunities you have seen?
Can you guess what next was cooking in Nonyelum’s pot of business?
In the same year, her stellar efforts in the business arena was recognised when she was one of the three (3) nominees for the Future Awards Africa Prize in Business and she got the opportunity to wine and dine with the Nigerian Vice President and other senior Government officials in Abuja, the Country’s Capital.
Indeed, Nonyelum is a go-getter! She is disciplined, hard-working and focused. In every year since 2011, she has created a thriving business. Her consistency is just wow! Indeed, her knack for creating and building business is commendable.
She saw gaps. She saw needs, all in a small town and she did something about them. She has creating a job for herself and for many others. The truth be said – I am inspired.
Her story has a clear reminder to me that opportunities abound all around us, that I can do more and create more in a consistent fashion. The fact that my eyes are open doesn’t mean that I can see.
Let me ask you…
What kinds of business opportunities exist in your city/community for young graduates to quickly exploit and hire themselves?