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Green Economy Opportunities for Young Nigerians

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The Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre convened the second edition of the Naija Youth Sustainability (NYS) Forum themed ‘The Resourceful Youth: Maximising Opportunities in Today’s Economy’ on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at the Lagos Business School and Virtually. The Forum is an impact initiative of LBS and serves as a dynamic platform that brings together young individuals from various regions of Nigeria.  This initiative aims to foster connections, create opportunities, encourage learning and collaboration among young people to channel their skills and interest into advancing sustainable development in society.

Head, Sustainability, Lagos Business School, Oreva Atanya delivered the welcome remarks at the forum, which was then declared open by the Dean, of Lagos Business School, represented by the Faculty Director, Lagos Business School, Prof Uchenna Uzo, who urged the youths to cultivate a success mindset centred on impact, emphasising that success goes beyond personal gain and should benefit the community. Special remarks were given by the Director of Partnerships, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Iruka Ndubuizu who reminded young people of the critical role they play in today’s economy, especially as we navigate these complex times. She highlighted that the traditional career path is not sufficient, and as such, youths have to innovate. She noted that one way to innovate is through entrepreneurship, as it is a pathway to make an impact and stay relevant, pointing out that we are all solution providers, and as such the youths should start from where they are and scale up.

Lead Faculty, Tekedia Institute and Chair, Tekedia Capital, Prof Ndubusi Ekekwe, delivered the special address. He indicated the many opportunities that challenges hold, conveying that challenges present frictions which must be overcome to advance sustainable development. He said, “The future is about young people and the wishes of nations can only come true when the youths arise to the challenges of nations.   Nations depend on young people to move them into the growth phase of parabolic markets.” He pointed out that all sectors present latent opportunities for good things to happen to unleash abundance for all. “No nation can rise faster than her ability to create knowledge. Knowledge creates markets, and the right knowledge combines factors of production to create these markets.” He hinted that for Nigeria to harness her unbounded potential, we must move from an invention society to an innovation society era where we use the knowledge we have to create products and services which are beneficial to all across sectors.

(L-R) Lead Faculty, Tekedia Institute, Prof Ndubusi Ekekwe, delivering the Special Address to the Youths; and Compere of the forum, Communications Officer, Lagos Business School, Florence Echendu.

Case presentations of businesses that have employed innovation, integrated sustainability practices and leveraged technology were delivered by the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Fez Delivery Co, Seun Alley and Pharmarun, Teniola Adedeji. Seun Alley intimated the forum that Fez Delivery leverages technology to achieve scale and efficiency and has gone on to integrate green business initiatives by launching an electric fleet, smart lockers and route optimisation softwares; all of these have helped to decarbonise the environment by reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions, as well as enhance supply chain visibility enabling proactive decision making, thus, minimising waste, and resources. She hinted the market is a 60 billion dollars market with room for more players to meet the logistics needs of Nigerians in a sustainable manner. 

CEO of Pharmarun indicated the entrepreneurial mindset the youths must have to surmount everyday challenges. She traced her journey of how Pharmarun evolved into a borderless pharmacy meeting the medication needs of clients across West Africa in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 3 of Health for All.. In addition, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow, Programmes, Youth Sustainable Development Network (YSDN), Chikamso Ononuju, and Kayode Ogunleye respectively submitted a case presentation on how YSDN has accelerated social impact among youths in communities across Nigeria. Furthermore, speed talks were given by Shalom Iboh, Founder, Renew Watts Technology and Prof. Akintola Owolabi, Faculty, Lagos Business School. Shalom Iboh informed the audience on the upskilling they need to take on to harness the many opportunities in today’s green economy, while Prof. Owolabi advocated for ethics not to be lost on the youths in their pursuit for innovation and success.  

The panel session titled ‘Solutions Mindset: Identifying Opportunities in a VUCA Environment’ comprised Founder, Anakle Films, Editi Effiong; Co-Founder and Chief Products Officer, Pharmarun, Funmilola Aderemi; Nigerian Digital Content Creator and Comedienne, Maryam Apaokagi (Taooma); and Creative Director, Adire Teems, Ebuka Ebuziem; and Associate, Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre, Osanua Nwagbara. They all spoke to the youths about the importance of grit, kickstarting their ideas, and finding the right incubation ground to hone their talent, pointing out that the church is always a good place to start grooming their talents and ideas. The call to action to the youths to utilise the knowledge gained to make a difference was conveyed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigerian Climate Innovation Centre (NCIC), Bankole Oloruntoba, and the Summary of Learnings was given by Associate, Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre, Chineme Egbo, and Associate Consultant, YSDN, Faisal Zakari.

Cross Section of Panellists at the forum (L-R); Associate, Programmes, LBS Sustainability Centre, Osanua Nwagbara; Creative Director, Adire Teems, Ebuka Ebuziem; Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Pharmarun, Funmilola Aderemi; Nigerian Digital Content Creator and Comedienne, Maryam Apaokagi (Taaooma); and Chief Executive Officer, Anakle Films, and Producer, the Black Book, Editi Effiong (who joined virtually on screen).

All the speakers harped on how youths can adapt to the ever-changing economic landscape, embrace technology, and cultivate entrepreneurial skills to drive positive change. The Naija Youth Sustainability Forum is a dynamic platform aimed at connecting, inspiring, and empowering young individuals dedicated to promoting sustainable development in Nigeria. It serves as a unique space for learning, dialogue, showcasing best practices, and fostering networking opportunities. Young people are key to Nigeria achieving her development aspirations, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa Agenda 2063 Goals. The forum recognises this potential to contribute to socio-economic and environmental outcomes through innovation and creativity, which the youths possess in abundance. 

The Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre is a leading knowledge hub that brings together the theory and practice of sustainable business for better organisational performance and societal development outcomes. For inquiries, please contact the LBS Sustainability Centre Team at sustainabilitycentre@lbs.edu.ng. Together, we can work towards a sustainable future for Africa and the world.

Cross Section of youths at the forum

Cross Section of speakers at the forum

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