Although, entrepreneurship is said to be a major solution to unemployment in Nigeria, the funds to start a business is a major obstacle to many people and this has given rise to different forms of social vices in the country.
In view of this, Ogechukwu Ezeokoli decided to start a foundation that is committed to promoting the interest of young people in discovering and maximizing their potentials.
Her foundation, TEENSED, trains secondary school students on entrepreneurship and gives them a seed capital to help them start businesses of their choice even while in school.
In an interview with Sola Abe for woman.ng, she speaks on how she is creating an entrepreneurship culture in the minds of teenagers with her TEENSED foundation.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ogechukwu Ezeokoli. I am an Educationist, Author, social entrepreneur and founder of Teens Economic and Social Development (TEENSED) Foundation. I am so passionate and committed to any cause that promotes the interest of young people in discovering, developing and maximizing their potentials, especially teenage girls and women. I have successfully created initiatives and opportunities for teenagers to provide solutions to challenges and processes through inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage and fortitude.
I have Masters in Business Administration from Lagos State University with Post Graduate Degree in Education. I recently had a scholarship from African American Institute for a program at EDC-Pan Atlantic University, Lagos Nigeria. I am married with four lovely children.
Teens Economic and Social Development
Teens Economic and Social Development (TEENSED) Foundation is a non-governmental, capacity development organization committed to engaging, educating and empowering young people as well as facilitating growth opportunities for young persons in transitional stages of their lives. We ignite young people to set career goals and provide entrepreneurship as a good career option enabling them transit seamlessly from school to real life issues.
Our interventions are clustered around 3 major areas:
Education: to improve accessibility to quality education and increase learning opportunities for teenagers both formal and informal in key areas like sex, health, skill enhancement training, soft skill and literacy programs.
Employment: To improve employment opportunities, income generation and personal development skills for young teenagers as a way to build capability for engagement in entrepreneurial productive work, improve livelihood and alleviate poverty in the community.
Leadership Engagement: To inspire, support and promote youth engagement and young people as change agents of positive social change as a way to foster a lifelong commitment to active citizenship.
Seeing the disturbing trend of sexual abuse on children and teenagers, I wrote a self awareness book against sexual abuse “We Can Stop this Abuse,” I go places (schools, religious groups, communities, parties etc) with my team (using the book) teaching techniques to protect them against sexual abuse. While on that crusade, I realized that most young people who are lured into early sex and abuse do so because of poverty and ignorance.
We decided to step in by teaching entrepreneurship, career development, financial intelligence and positive attitudes to overcome adversities. These young adults are full of energy and enthusiasm when doing what they love; hence we are channeling this energy in productive activities that will give them a life in the future.
We so much believe that if these ones are encouraged and inspired to see the raw gold in themselves in form of skills and talents they will do exceedingly great. Teenagers and the youths want the adult folk to believe in their ability and provide a conducive environment for them to thrive. Through this entrepreneurship project, some of the benefactors are already making money using their skills and businesses
The maiden edition was fully sponsored by the Pollination Project USA. We also had entrepreneurs who facilitated the classes free of charge. We had organisations that supported us in one way or the other, individuals, friends and relations also bought into the vision.
Initially, schools were skeptical about our ability to deliver what we were promising them. Some students even felt that we were disturbing them at the onset. But all of that changed by the time we started the training. The fact that we had to pull professionals and entrepreneurs who were volunteering as facilitators to go to schools once every week for 6weeks was a huge sacrifice on their part and a bit challenging for us.
Transportation was also a source of concern since the schools were scattered in different parts of the city. We are glad we overcame all of that and hope to overcome even more challenges this year.
Seven schools benefitted from the project
business plan writing competition
We had a business plan template given out to them to answer the questions and we have a marking guide and a particular percentage qualifies them as outstanding while their activities and pitching earn them the Award.
12 students won the Award. It was a $100 competition but they won according to their abilities.
Some of the businesses showcased were: shoe making, fashion designing, bag making, blogging, writing, hair dressing, bead making, drinks (Zobo), cake and confectioneries.
Yes, there is a follow-up. They will be assigned to mentors who will guide them through their businesses and academics. These mentors will also guide them through setting life goals and help them paint the bigger picture of what the future holds in stock for them if they are focused and never give up on their dreams.