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Spotlight on UNN innovation by Chinwe Okoli at ACP Heads of State and Government in Nairobi

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Chinwe Okoli
The University of Nigeria strives to position the academia as an inevitable tool towards preparing developing countries to reap the benefits of innovation and practical entrepreneurship.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Charles Igwe has continued to promote the University-embedded model of innovation as a model that is worthy of emulation for development of Africa.

The impact of the university’s effort in encouraging innovation among the staff and students has resulted in the university contributing to global high level discussions on best practices/models of innovation.

Chinwe Okoli

Chinwe Okoli addressing the summit

Recently, the Manager of Roar Nigeria Hub and the Pioneer Manager of Lion Science Park of the University of Nigeria, UNN, Chinwe Okoli, represented the University at the ACP Business Summit and the 9th summit of ACP Heads of State and Government held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The participant were: Heads of State of the 79 ACP member countries, Non-ACP Heads of State, and Government ministers from the ACP countries, Partners – European Union, United Nations, International Organisations, Private Sector Corporate Executives and Philanthropists. ACP was established in 1975.

Ms. Okoli, shared from her wealth of experience in business incubation and innovation, unique insights that could help spur and strengthen innovation across the 79 ACP Countries.

Speaking on the topic “Entrepreneurial Finance for the Empowerment of the women and youth in the ACP Countries”, Ms. Okoli highlighted major issues that plague women-owned businesses; limit their growth and access to finance in developing countries to include: choice of business sector, where she explained that many women naturally venture into subsistence level businesses whereas their male counterparts would prefer high growth ventures.

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Another issue was the culture of inheritance in Africa and most developing countries which arms the male folks with landed properties as potential collateral or source of finance, sadly, the female folks are mostly denied this privilege.

Speaking on level of ambition, African women are culturally shy and modest in their ambitions unlike men who are trained to be highly ambitious.

“Many African young women, by training believe that being shy, looking away even when having serious conversations, having less money/properties to their names and modest ambitions are great virtues for a woman. How then can such a woman garner the confidence to negotiate with potential investor(s), how can she communicate her business convincingly and how can she venture into a high growth venture? Deliberate efforts at family level and policies from government should to be made to reverse these trends so women can be empowered to contribute significantly in the era of the 4th industrial revolution”.

Chinwe Okoli

Chinwe Okoli at the ACP Business Summit in Kenya

“Channeling the passion of women and energy of the youth towards innovative businesses would be the magic wand for speedy development across the ACP countries. If we have women and the youth operating at full potential, ACP countries will amaze the rest of the world by their speed of development in the coming years. The development of the ACP States depends so much on how efficiently they engage the vibrant youth. Africa’s youth is the goldmine. But we need to dig to mine this gold”

It is imperative to raise ambitious and audacious women and youth who can shatter the ceilings and break the cultural boundaries of the old. This will yield multiplier effects because women and young people have a way of influencing one another.

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She emphasized that empowering the youth and women in ACP countries to boost access to finance, productivity, profitability and contribution to GDP requires intervention such as technical assistance, capacity building & re-orientation programs; policies on cultural property ownership structure and creation of support networks.

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“Also, ACP states need to support the academia to produce graduates with skills for the private/public sector, either as employees or entrepreneurs” she stated.

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