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StartUp idea succeeds only when it is demand-driven, says NACETEM DG

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Many entrepreneurs lack resources management know-how. Some even lack basic skills on bookkeeping. Most importantly, many delve into entrepreneurship without engaging in opportunity analysis.

These are the words of the Director General, National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Engineer (Prof) Okechukwu Ukwuoma during a recent chat with TechEconomy.ng in his office.

NACETEM is an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) saddled with the responsibility of training middle-to-high level manpower in the areas of science, technology and innovation management.

In his assessment of entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria, Prof. Ukwuoma said that inability of young people to research about the environment and products/service lines they are venturing into could be blamed for the increase in sudden collapse of small businesses in the country.

In his words, “Opportunity Analysis implies that when you are setting up a business you scan the environment to understand what is there and what is needed.

“It could be what is available but not in sufficient quantity. It may be what is available but not well packaged. Once you focus on that scarcity then you have a business. But when you come into a system that is already saturated, the people already in that market may be diversifying, yet you are just coming in, then it will be difficult to strive.

“These are some of the major reasons hundreds of small ventures that come up hardly will ten per cent survive the second year. Once the environment is saturated and you come in, it is usually difficult to break even. But if you move out and understand what people really need it becomes demand-driven entrepreneurship”.

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He said that these are part of the things NACETEM try to impact on potential startups or SMEs.

When asked his view about ongoing debate that the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for Nigerian graduates should be redefined to inculcate entrepreneurial skills in the members, the NACETEM DG said, “This year, as an Agency we wrote the NYSC that we would like to come to orientation camps to train the Corps Members on entrepreneurship. But you know sometimes, when people are not interested in a proposal, no matter how objective and noble it sounds it would witness bottleneck. The Osun State NYSC secretariat directed us to write to the National Headquarters because they already have their programmes.

“In Enugu we were even asked to pay to mount a stand, which I directed should be done. In all of this, one thing is clear: when you look at the factors prelude to the establishment of the NYSC; they wanted the young people to know themselves by serving in a state or region outside their State of origin. However, it appears that people are no longer interested in such things presently. We have also heard of cases that people are not interested in the Youth Service. They even prefer to pay to obtain exemption certificate. So, a lot of things have happened and still happening.

“Nevertheless, NYSC presents opportunity for anyone serious about learning one trade or skill; some people to go those places they are posted and start-up entrepreneurship ventures. It is not the amount of what you are taught in class that matters, but the interest you have. Because all the people doing very well in the business ventures are mostly those who decided to improve on themselves. They try to read-wide, learn new skills that may be different from what they even learnt in school. That is innovation. So, entrepreneurship is very important in today’s Nigerian society.

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…still on saturation of business ideas

“Meanwhile, I always disagree with people who may say they want to intervene in some community or what they call ‘empowerment’. They go to a community that have about 2,000 population, and give forty of them hairdressing equipment. Who will they dress their hairs? It is part of saturation of ideas.

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“Suffice to say that people who go through apprenticeship sometimes understand these things more than those who pass through the four walls of the university. For instance, at the end of the apprenticeship programme, usually the servant does not stay in the same environment with the master. He goes far away to search for new customers. Those who choose to stay in the same environment, most times, find it difficult to survive, because the same customers the master have are the same he will scramble for”, he added.

The role of NACETEM

The DG added that NACETEM is available to train people on entrepreneurship whenever the opportunity comes and when people are interested. “Those who are willing to acquire knowledge or inundate themselves operate under the law of accumulation which states that little knowledge you accumulate every time you discuss with people or read materials, are the things that will enable you do new things”, Prof. Ukwuoma added.

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