- We are ready to sponsor your business ideas – Adebisi
Dr. Sunday Adebisi is the Director of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Entrepreneurship & Skills Development Centre. An Associate Professor from the Department of Business Administration, Adebisi in this interview with AYOMIDE OLUFOLARIN, SOLOMON OLADIPUPO, CALEB OLONITOLA and BUSOLA of The Press Club, UNILAG, shares more on the university’s desire to promote entrepreneurship drive among her student population in other to tackle mass graduate unemployment in Nigeria.
When did the entrepreneurship centre start?
The Centre started sometime in 2017 when the university started seeking how to drive entrepreneurship activities for the students. As at the time it started, there was no activities, there was nothing. I was appointed director in May 2018. Upon my assumption, I tried to understand what direction the university is trying to take. I swung into action to make sure we add the entrepreneurship side to all courses in the university. Owing to the massive unemployment scale outside, we as a university decided not to push people to go join the queue.
Hence, the decision to build entrepreneur skills into all students in the university. There is a new programme – Entrepreneurship Incubation and Business Certification Programme (EIBC) – that has been approved by the university (this is different from the GST entrepreneurship course) which all students would take compulsorily required to take in order to be awarded double certificate. It would start in the 2019/2020 academic session. The programme is going to train all students on how to convert their respective disciplines into a profitable business venture. There is no discipline in this university that the students cannot convert into profitable business ventures.
The programme would also make mentors available for students to take them through how to generate business ideas, how to commercialise their ideas, how to create start-ups, the ethics of an entrepreneurs, the opportunities available, how to access and covert problems into profitable business ventures, among others.
What other activities are on ground to fast-track entrepreneurship drive among the student population?
A lot of things are on ground. Unfortunately, we have a student population of about 55, 000 students. So we do pro-rationing; anytime there is opportunity for training – take for example the Design Thinking training sponsored by Lufthansa German Airline thorough which we have trained over 160 students and 40 lecturers as certified Design thinkers up to senior coach level– we require each faculty to put forward 10 representatives. The faculty decides how to spread it across their departments using criteria like CGPA.
Representatives of the Bank of Industry (BoI) have stated interest in supporting a BOI-UNILAG INCUBATION HUB with N250 million in loans. So, it means that if you have good ideas with commercial value, the BoI is ready to fund it. Any idea that comes from you in this place would be patented for you free of charge by the university. To patent in Nigeria can take about 10 years but within one year, UNILAG has gotten 11 patents because it is a big university. If your business idea requires huge funding, we help you get investors. So, right from the stage conceptualisation to giving birth to the idea as a valuable proposition, UNILAG would support you all through the line. We are catching them young from 100 level, so that in the space of four years, we can come up with very solid business.
We are currently funding Busayo Adegbulugbe, the popular male student on wheel who just graduated from this university, with N250, 000 because he has a solid business idea. He has received N100, 000 first tranche. We are currently training him and his team for his Wheel Mobile Food & Pizza start-up as a campus brand. I am here to help any students with a solid business idea to bring their ideas into fruition.
What about those who are interested in acquiring vocational skills?
This is a skills & vocational training centre, so that is included. But we are not interested in pushing out students outside to be soap-making students. Any vocation we take you through, we are going to bring in the touch of a graduate and scholars to generate bigger value. We want our students to be respected as solution providers. So, if you are a fashion designer, for example, you can become a fashion collector that pulls about 200 fashion designers together to create a platform for them. These are some of the things we desire for our students.
Also, we are building so-creation capabilities among students whereby we bring students from Computer Science, Economics and Architecture, for example, to work on a particular problem to provide solution.
Generally, it appears software and all the technology-related ideas form engineering students are the ones that are welcomed.
What is the nature of ideas that can be brought before the centre and what application process do students have to go through to get across to the Centre?
The ideas that we are looking is those that are different from the mainstream ideas and have commercial value. Take for example, if you have a great ideas on how locust beans such that it would attract people and patronage
For the process, first thing is to visit the Centre for exploratory discussion. You get an appointment with the Centre’s staff and form there we can take it up.