Monthly Archives: February 2011

Opportunity:Join The Future Photography Workshop

Photo Credit:Google images

After successfully launching sessions of trainings under entrepreneurship, writing and for TV presenters, and film actors, The Future Project, sister brand to The Future Awards, has finally unveiled its workshop for photographers! The training for upcoming and aspiring young photographers runs for the month of March, 2011.

“We are proud to announce that the first session of The Future Photography Workshop is held in partnership with Kelechi Amadi-Obi Studios – certainly the leader in the industry – so students are in for a picture perfect session!” says Kenneth Oliko, spokesperson for the project.

Other lecturers for the one month course include Moussa Moussa, Yinka Obebe and Body Lawson. The extended faculty also includes celebrity photographer, TY Bello. The classes will be a mix of theory and practical with topics including Lighting,Depth of Field, Portraiture, The Business of Photography, Getting Work As a Photographer, Exposure Workshop, Street Photography etc.

Registration is at a subsidized rate of N5000 – but there are only 20 spaces. To register, call Kenneth on 08022226712 or mail Registration ends on Friday, February 26 so register now!

For more information on the trainings of young people in creativity and enterprise under The Future Enterprise Support Scheme (TF-ESS), please go to

Enough of lip service; let’s save Nigeria

Chude Jideonwo- M.D Redstrat Communications

An Address by Chude Jideonwo, Managing Director of RedSTRAT/The Future Project at The Future Awards 2011, 30 January 2011, Lagos.

Sometimes Nigeria can confound and frustrate you. Just a few weeks ago, at a meeting our organization facilitated for the Presidency to engage them on the issues that affect young people nationwide, someone said: “people have no faith in themselves, people are pessimistic – that’s why our country is the way it is.” And I smiled.

I smiled because I used to think like that too. I was 13 when I wrote my first book, “In my father’s knickers” and the first publisher I sent it to published it, no issues whatsoever. So when I heard people complaining about the “system” not working, I wondered what on earth they were talking about, it had worked for me. Little did I know I was an exception to the disheartening general rule. Many years later I have learnt not to be so quick to judge.

So when I hear statements like that made, statements like “our country is the way it is because people are lazy and pessimistic”, It is enough to make you cry – this utter cluelessness that can sometimes pass for engagement or problem solving, not just by government, but by the generality of the people who have the task or the duty to ensure that our country is set upon that clichéd right track.

No, people are not pessimistic, people are realistic. And the reality is that our country is essentially… falling apart.

People are suffering . People are producing garri in the east and the South-South but have no one to sell it to because the transportation system has collapsed, textile and other industries are shutting down in the North, parents who earn N25000 to N30000 are expected to pay school fees of up to N250000. There is an overpowering sense of powerlessness, of hopelessness. And if anybody is saying anything different to President Jonathan and all of government, then they are lying.

Did you hear the first speaker, Aisha? People are homeless, people are jobless. People cannot afford meals, people live under the bridges – boys of 8, 7, 5. The guys that clean your windscreens, the girls you see still carrying bread and hawking it from 12pm to 1am. Suffering. Poverty. They are the generality and there are millions of them. And they are mad as hell.  Let’s not even talk about Jos, or the Niger Delta. These are the people who wonder – “how do you bring back the book for people who never had books in the first place?”

It is this frustration that led me to gather friends, associates, partners and youths – on my 25th birthday last year – to say EnoughisEnough, When we got to the National Assembly and had the senators running through back gates and we raised our voices saying “we are not activists, we are young professionals who want to tell you how we feel” , and that is “this is not the country we want!” It wasn’t just about whether President Yar’Adua was missing or that the promised 60000 megawatts was nowhere to be found, it was because we had had enough. The people on the other side are not listening! And they have to. Government,captains of industry, funding and international organisations engaged in this project called Nigeria, those who should facilitate the work of change.

Let me speak candidly. Because it is in the middle of these kinds of crisis that the governments of the Niger Delta seem to have come together and decided that the solution for this problem is to organize a Miss Niger Delta competition.

These are the people we go to meet to support our work to reach young people with skills, with knowledge, to build their capacity. We don’t want contracts, we have plans – proven to work – to train young people, we want to bring mentors for them, we want to bring this award to your state, this conference, let these young people meet the kinds of mentors that can change their lives.

Many are making effort and we are grateful. I thank you Access Bank, I thank you, I thank you Virgin Atlantic, I thank the Office of the Delta State Governor, I thank you MTN, I thank you Miccom Golf Resorts, I thank you HiTV, but it is not enough. If this country collapses, there will be no banks, there will be no telecoms companies, no Twitter, no Facebook. No clubs, no bowling alleys. No asoebis, no weddings. Look at Tunisia and Egypt, those tall buildings are tumbling down and tumbling fast.

And no, it’s not a role for government alone. We cannot be getting funding from international organizations like the World Bank, Omidyar Network, MacArthur Foundation and others and all our own organizations want to focus on are reality shows and concerts, pageants and raves. They say that is what young people want. Are you kidding me? On the 29th of January, we had more than 2000 youths at our pre-awards conference, same as last year. We go outside Lagos for our Town Hall Meetings to engage the youth nationally on entrepreneurship, value creation and governance and people are standing like it’s a crusade. On Facebook, on Twitter, thousands of followers. This hall ,full. Are they not youths? We have a database of thousands of volunteers – we cannot even accommodate all – begging to do something, to be part of something serious and impactful; so be part of projects like ours, or those of organisations like Rise Networks, LightUpNigeria, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, BLING – just to mention a few – firms that have gained such credibility and influence and a tremendous following of young people. Why do Marketing Managers, Marketing Directors, MDs think that creatively and intelligently engaging these young people is a waste of time and money?

I ask when I see them: why is it so difficult to find the budget to support our trainings for young people in entrepreneurship, creativity – our Young Writers Network, our The Future Enterprise Support Scheme, our Do Something Seminars, but so easy to have money out for… you know these things.

Just last year, a member of our Board, an amazing woman, Obiageli Ezekwesili called up a bank MD and said, look man, you have to support this, I have known them for five years, I have seen the numbers, I have seen the passionate young people they lead, support them. And he said, “Oh the young people are not our demographic”. So she asked “So who is your demographic – the aging, the geriatric?” Such irony, such disconnect, such a paradox.

This project – this event – is a gift of love, of passion. It comes from blood and the hardest of work. This project is not even where the income comes from. That comes from our business arm, our PR business, our management consulting, our project management, the magazines we edit for companies, our online media businesses. Any thing but The Future Awards… some of you here think we make millions from it?

Let me tell you… for all our Town Hall Meetings across Nigeria – visiting Abia, Benin, Yola, Ile-Ife, South Africa, the UK to listen to the issues and aspirations of Nigerian youths etc – we were not able to get even up to half of our budget and subsequently ran at a great loss just because we are determined to make this happen. The amount we received for sponsorship is not up to the amount some of you spend on “Omugwo”. The only way we are able to do this is because partners like Cool FM, Wazobia FM, Miccom, Yvent Kouture, Dtalkshop, Total Consult, Silverbid Tremor Perfect, MAI clothing, Saheeto, La Bash, Mass Media Partners and others you can see in the brochure say “yes you guys have no sponsorship but this is a national project and it’s changing lives, it cannot die” – and they join their hands together and tell us “We will give you sound, we will give you stage, we will give you this and that – premium high quality, you don’t have to pay, and here we are.

It shows you the kind of generation that we belong to. Some of us, even in this crisis of nationhood, still want to do things for legacy, for posterity, for history. Not because we are so special, but because we saw what our parents did with our country and we don’t like it. And we declare… ‘we cannot continue like this!’

It’s not about government. It’s a general collapse in values. Our problems are not hard we just refuse to engage them. We refuse to join hands and repair the road where you drive your jeep in Banana Island. It’s not hard. To give a couple of millions that you spend on random parties to mentors the children of the Dustbin Estate, it’s not hard. To come to us, beyond words – beyond “oh you’re doing so well, oh I’m so proud of you guys, oh I am so impressed” – to saying, which of your projects can I fund, how many of your young people can I support, how many award winners can I structure sustainable investment for… it’s not hard.  Is not hard to say one percent of my budget, as a company, will go to practically enriching the lives of young people. No, it’s not. Enough of lip service. Put your money where your mouth is.

Ladies and gentlemen, our country is not yet a great one. That’s the truth. How can you be great if your young people are so disillusioned, so angry, so tired? This nation can be great, it has its moments of greatness, but lets call this spade a spade; it is not yet even near greatness. And If we don’t acknowledge how urgent this problem is, Egypt and Tunisia are just a few hours away.

The good news is: Our revolution does not have to be bloody if we all combine the clinking of champagne glasses with the rolling up of our sleeves. Find a way to get involved. Stop sitting in your house and complaining – do something, put your hands on the plough, add your quota. If you don’t know how to do your part then ask the many people doing real work, making real impact, adding real value, who actually understand the issues, understand the youths, and own that future. Ask us. There is no longer any excuse. It is no longer cool to be disinterested.

All of us must work together and take active steps to safeguard this future in the NOW! We have no choice. We have no choice.

God bless Nigeria.




Nigerian women entrepreneurs demand support system

Photo Credit: IITA Image Library

When the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project conducted a 22-nation survey last spring, Nigeria was the only nation in which more than half of respondents, 54 percent, said women should not have equal rights with men. “Many things are working against us in Nigeria,” says Fatima Aliko Mohammed, one of three representatives of Nigeria at the April 2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship called for by U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

Mohammed is the editor-in-chief of Draftbill Magazine, which she created out of frustration that many Nigerians didn’t know who represented them in the National Assembly or which bills were debated. “Traditionally we don’t own properties, and women are relegated to the home,” she says. In order to curb poverty in Nigeria, reverse its effect and increase economic success in the country, it is imperative to empower and engage those at the bottom of the pyramid, especially women, she says.

Mama Joy, a restaurateur in Lagos, a port city in Nigeria considered to be its economic and financial capital, says she is proud to be a woman entrepreneur in Nigeria. She owns a small-scale restaurant and catering company in one of the busy motor parks in the Lagos metropolis. Like most major motor parks in Lagos, the Ogba motor park is situated in a central location where commuters can access public transportation to other parts of the city. It is boisterous and busy. There are banks, schools, a police station and a large retail market in the multi-ethnic community. Mama Joy’s restaurant is just a stone’s throw away from the Area G Police Station, so security is no challenge for her and her staff. She started her business more than two decades ago and has maintained a level of consistency that has made hers a trusted spot in the neighborhood. Before moving into her new restaurant, which can hold just 20 customers, Mama Joy sold her food in a makeshift store at the bus stop near the motor park, where artisans, traders and drivers were frequent customers.

“Whoever bought food always came back the following day and also told others about my food,” she says of her word-of-mouth reputation. Since moving on from her food stand at the bus stop, Mama Joy, a widow, has been able to raise and educate her six children on her own through her catering business and restaurant. “I have been able to [send] six of my children to graduate level in the university through this business,” she says. “As I am now, I own my own building in Lagos and in my hometown.” Mama Joy was born in Edo, a state to the east of Lagos. Her success has come from faith, determination and hard work – as well as some help from Nigeria’s microfinance industry. “Everything belongs to God,” she says. “Before I came here, I was at the bus stop.”

Like Mama Joy, many women in Nigeria venture into small-scale businesses, like selling petty items by the roadside. When they save enough money, they branch out to rent a shop and expand their trade. Microfinance banks and initiatives by nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, targeting women are slowly gaining more popularity to complement government-orchestrated projects. The Nigerian government pledged earlier this week to back the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to create a Microfinance Development Fund, but some women say they wish the government would do more to specifically help businesswomen.

Earlier this month, the governor of the CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, told the Fifth Annual Microfinance Conference and Entrepreneurship Awards in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, that because of a lack of bank access, 46.3 percent of Nigerians are financially excluded, according to Microfinance Africa. The addition of 816 microfinance banks, which provide financial services such as loans to low-income Nigerians based on the idea that they can lift themselves out of poverty if given access to financial resources, is a start, but greater financial inclusion will boost Nigeria’s economic growth, he said.

Sanusi says 70 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line. The 2010 Global Monitoring Report of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization revealed that 92 percent of Nigerians live on less than $2 USD per day while about 71 percent survive on less than $1 USD.

Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga announced in June that Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 19.7 percent, according to Reuters. Almost half of Nigerians ages 15 to 25 in urban areas are unemployed, he said. In 2009, the Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Youth and Social Development announced that 40 million youths were unemployed – and 23 million of those were unemployable because of a lack of schooling or skills. Reflecting on the high rate of unemployment in the country, Mama Joy says she urges young women to be more entrepreneurial.

“Mothers need to teach their daughters to be more industrious,” she says. With no white-collar job experience and no intention of getting any, Mama Joy ventured into the food business as a young girl, learning the ropes from her mother. “It is the business my mother did,” she says.

Finding start-up capital is not easy for most women. But it’s not impossible. To get her start-up capital, Mama Joy says she “patched up,” or bought the supplies she needed to cook her food on credit then paid it off as she made sales. While Adeduwon and Mama Joy laud the microfinance system, it is not without its flaws.

After reviewing 820 microfinance banks from February to June, CBN revoked the licenses of nearly 200 banks in September, according to The Nation newspaper. The banks were deficient in their understanding of the concept of microfinance and delivery of services to their clients, according to Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, CBN deputy governor. Many lost their focus on the financially insecure population they were supposed to be helping, he said, citing a high level of non-performing loans and poor corporate governance.

In Nigeria, microfinance banks are not alone in the push to build women entrepreneurs. NGOs are also working to empower aspiring businesswomen. Adeduwon says she participated in a small-scale business management training program organized by Growing Business Foundation, GBF, a non-profit NGO that promotes private sector investments in microfinance projects to support underserved communities, and especially women.

Different initiatives have been implemented to effectively create access to and opportunities for women at the grassroots level, says Wande Pearse, GBF program director of Projects and Business Development.

“In recent years, there has been [an] increased campaign for women to be more involved in business,” he says. “The microcredit movement, for instance, is one way women have become more enterprising. GBF since inception in 1999 has supported more women (90 percent of beneficiaries are women) through its enterprising development programs across Nigeria.”

Another nonprofit, Women in Management and Business, WIMBIZ, demonstrates another model of supporting businesswomen by sponsoring lunches, lecture series, conferences and mentor programs. WIMBIZ has recently completed a phase of its mentoring program, which paired 72 aspiring businesswomen with mentors for four months.

But as some women are able to participate, others say they are stifled by the patriarchal culture and the lack of opportunities available to women. There is still much work to be done, says Mama Joy, who believes the existence of a well-structured support system from the government would have better equipped her entrepreneurial venture.

Adeduwon advocates for more support for businesswomen from the government, too. “[The] government should loan funds [under] favorable condition[s],” she says. Her prayers may be answered.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged this month to back the CBN to establish a Microfinance Development Fund, according to The fund aims to reduce the country’s poverty rate and improve its GDP by financially including all of the economically active poor. According to Oluwadare of New Life Microfinance Bank, the government already supports microfinance through banks and various NGOs.

The federal government is also trying to engage the country’s youth. The Federal Ministry of Youth Development established in 2008, for the first time ever, the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan for 2009 to 2011 to counteract high youth unemployment rates. At the state level, the state of Niger has spent more than 1.5 billion nairas ($9.9 million USD) to help establish microfinance banks in all local government areas, according to Microfinance Nigeria. Chioma Ohakim, the first lady of the state of Imo, in southern Nigeria, announced in November a partnership with women in the business sector in order to improve the state’s economy, according to But Mama Joy and Adeduwon say more resources need to be directed specifically toward women.

“Women should be seen contributing in every home and not depend solely on the men,” Pearse says.

By: Jennifer Ehidiamen