Ndiana Matthew is a catalyst for positive change. Driven by his desire to contribute to youth empowerment, he founded the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit and Expo (YES). His career has spanned oil and gas, telecommunications and media. Currently the CEO of Palm3 Strategy Nigeria – a strategic communications company – Ndiana is committed to building a new Nigeria where a “culture of self-reliance, innovation and excellence” will be entrenched. How possible is this? He provides the answers in this interview.
Why did you start YES?
Youth Entrepreneurship Summit & Expo is my contribution to nation building, and youth empowerment on my return to Nigeria, having previously been a professional in the diaspora for over a decade. As a youth under 30 years, I was privileged to direct the West African businesses of Pan African Investment Advisory / Media firm , Africa Investor and IC Publications UK Limited both based in the United Kingdom, working out of London, Johannesburg and Lagos at several times. This exposure empowered me to consult for over 200 private sector multinationals, MDAs and state Governments in Nigeria.
Youth Entrepreneurship Summit is my social investment to assist young entrepreneurs ( mostly at-risk or under-privileged ) to create sustainable enterprises and wealth opportunities by providing a world-class advocacy and knowledge-sharing platform which empowers them with a level playing field, access to finance and mentors, and access to skills and knowledge. I provide free strategy / business development consulting post event for businesses represented at the summit. It is my belief that regardless of any Nigerian youth’s lack of access to tertiary or formal education or not, they could be transformed from job seekers to wealth creators if they are put through the Summit’s mix of experiential learning and knowledge sharing from coaches and serial entrepreneurs who have made it in our environment against all odds.
What impact do you think YES would have?
Our first edition had a bold national foot print. We partnered with the Nigerian Television Authority to ensure that youths across the 36 states and FCT were sensitized about the programme. We streamed the event online and reached several hundreds of thousands of young people. Youth Entrepreneurship Summit would be known for leapfrogging the growth of many at-risk youths in Nigeria from idle job seekers to successful entrepreneurs and job creators.
How do you intend to measure this impact?
We have a database of all the entrepreneurs we’re working with and assisting. And we are tracking their growth, where they were before they attended our event and will report on growth and progress at every summit. As we go across the nation, documenting the transformative effect of our interventions with partners is paramount to our mission.
What is your major objective?
Raising young leaders and entrepreneurs who are good corporate citizens of Nigeria and contribute positively to the economic prosperity of the nation. Our motto is “inspire the future.” Youths are the future, if we can inspire them to be limitless in their thinking, we can start a culture of self-reliance, excellence and innovation in enterprise that would have a significant impact on our national economy.
Do you think African youths have a future, especially with the mismanagement of resources by some political leaders in the continent?
African youths have the brightest future because the greatest innovation is often painted on a backdrop of pain and misfortune. Political leaders have mismanaged resources, but the youths of Africa refuse to be mismanaged. Human resources or capital is the most valuable and sustainable capital. Shared economies and people are the new competitive advantage. African youths can create solutions to not just the continent’s problem but global problems and get rewarded for it. We are over 70% of the population and collectively we can create a new paradigm and reality for ourselves. I encourage young people to read and seek knowledge so they can exchange it with value and create their dreams instead of waiting on handouts. Ultimately, we are the books we read and the people we surround ourselves with. For us at Youth Entrepreneurship Summit Nigeria , Our country’s future is worth securing, by empowering one youth at a time.
How do you intend to sustain the YES initiative?
We’re creating “extranets” of knowledge and vast partnerships, so this initiative is beyond me. I am providing complimentary advisory and consulting services for SMMEs represented at the summit each year who will definitely grow and share profits / equity with me. I have been booked every day since the event with value yielding opportunities, from sponsors, exhibitors, regulators just for creating an opportunity for business to assist entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs to sell to business. We have just recently facilitated Lagos State Enterprise Day organized by LASTVEB and the Teen Enterprise Week of the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-African University. We have an able chairman in Mr. Meka Olowola, managing Partner, Zenera Consulting who is passionate about the youths of Nigeria and ensures that all our initiatives are sustainable and meet with best-in-class standards.
Do you think African youths have what it takes to provide solutions to the problems of the continent?
African youths are creating solutions to global problems, not just our continent. Glaring examples are Lagos- born and raised Chinedu Echeruo who sold his “HotStop” app to Apple Inc. for several hundred million dollars, 26 year old Bankole Cardoso who gave us Easy Taxi Nigeria, and several graduates from technical colleges in Lagos State who have recently incorporated construction enterprises and have been empowered by the government to undertake repair and maintenance work in public educational institutions in the state.
African youths have to deal with a lot of challenges that the average youth raised in Developed economies don’t have to deal with. As a result they have a fiercely competitive spirit that can’t be broken, are risk surfers, creative and confident in their approach of everyday problems. I believe African and Nigerian youths in this decade will birth more solutions for human kind than we’ve seen in the last century. Our time is now.