Thank you for coming today.
Welcome to the Consulate’s first Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs.
I am very pleased that FSD/VTE and the Consulate were able to identify so many aspiring entrepreneurs among Young African Leadership Initiative network members in Nigeria.
At the end of these two days I hope that all of you — the developing entrepreneurs — will leave with an enhanced set of skills and networks to help you launch your businesses.
I want to first acknowledge my esteemed colleagues and thank them for taking time out of their busy day to join us:
John Momoh, CEO Channels TV
Funke Opeke, CEO Main One Cable
Tonye Cole, CEO Sahara Energy
Durosinmi Etti, Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment
Toun Sonaiya, CEO of W-FM
Young entrepreneurs are remaking the world – including here in Nigeria
Last year Forbes included five Nigerians on its list of the most promising young entrepreneurs.
Olatorera Oniru, founder of Dress Me Outlet; an online source of fashion products;
Kasope Ladipo-Ajai, founder Omoalata; a company that processes and packages Nigerian spices and pepper;
Abiola Olaniran, founder of Gamsole; a creator of games for Windows;
Ogunlana Olumide and Chukwuwezam Obanor, founders of PrepClass.
And looking at you I can only wonder who among you will be included in this list someday.
Entrepreneurship can launch you on a path to change the world.
Entrepreneurship can give you freedom to change the lives of you and your family.
I can’t think of any better reason to start your own business.
The Department of State supports entrepreneurs all over the world because we are firmly convinced that entrepreneurship is the key driver to job growth, economic opportunity, political stability, and a vibrant civil society.
We have the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which the founder of this institution, Ms. Omowale Ogunrinde, attended.
We also have the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, the Global Innovation through Science and Technology and the list goes on.
We want to identify, train, mentor, incubate, provide access to marketing and funding, and create enabling environments and entrepreneurial cultures.
I believe that if we do this, you will be able to create a successful business.
You will have a lot of work.
You will have to decide what problem your company will solve.
You will have to launch your business.
The last thought I want to share with you –
Don’t take no for an answer.
Believe in your idea and lose your fear of being told “no” because you’re going to hear no a lot.
Find a few people who believe in you and your idea, keep them close – you will need them when you have heard your hundredth “no”.
Don’t be shy about asking people for information or connections. The entrepreneurial world is built on people helping one another.
I am now going to turn the program over to Toun.
Each of the speakers is going to share the story of their journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur.