Wennovation Hub's new office was launched in Ikeja where young innovators gathered to brainstorm recently. In this interview with David Audu , Co-Founder and Managing Director, Wole Odetayo , gave insight into the activities of the firm. Excerpts:
What does the setting up of the Wennovation Hub offer as a business solution provider?
Wennovation Hub is a business incubator and accelerator hub founded in 2010 and started operations the following year.
It is founded on the concept of major challenges in the society: youth unemployment, poverty reduction and social and infrastructural under development.
Our goal is to harness the energy in young people to solve these challenges leveraging technology. We engage young people to inspire them to see how they can find solutions to the challenge of Nigeria and the African society, challenge of poverty and unemployment. These are issues that are plaguing our society today, and we believe in an organization that allows us to have a better future. We have a broad goal in that respect.
We want to see Nigeria is among the top 10 economies by 2050, I know it is a big order but it is something we hope for our contribution can get us there.
How do you get involved in the Hub for training?
Basically, we are working on an annual incubation program where we invite young people to submit their ideas.
It is a call for application from innovators from around Nigeria. At the end of the world, the best top 10 ideas per call.
I must stress that these ideas must come from teams because, for now, we do not take ideas from individuals or sole entrepreneurs.
We take ideas from the team of innovators or what we call bands of innovators. These are people who come together with complementary skills to tackle challenges. The selected ten will go through our program, which usually last for about three months. They will be taught on entrepreneurship, mentorship, investment readiness, and such other training that will equip them with the ability to solve the challenges of each team.
Can you explain why you do not admit individual entrepreneurs into the Hub?
Yes, this is very important, and the reason is because of the risk factor in the project.
There is always risk in the human capital in any project. For example, if you take a solicitor and unfortunately something happens, say the sole owner is incapacitated, that may be the end of that idea or the project; and because we do not charge money from the trainees or trainees, all the investments we have gone on. Even, we are entrepreneurs, we know that you need to be tough on entrepreneurship, we can encourage you.
So, it is only when you have partners who believe in your vision that can see you through. The third thing which is equally important is the quality of network. No matter what, the quality of the network is one of the ideas. So, we place premium on team work.
Apart from the network quality, there are also the complimentary skills. In most cases you will find people who are exactly the same.
One will have something different from the other person. These different complimentary skills from different people are always needed in the team of innovators.
This is very important. You do not get your eggs in one basket when it comes to human capital in entrepreneurship.
So much of youth in the world of governance and governance in their youthful premium economy, how do we reconcile this?
I think it is a value system issue. Even the old and the young are not excluded from the general value system that we struggle with in Nigeria. When you have a product of that value system, the decadence will not go away. If we imbibe the right value it will reflect on what we do; what you value is what determines what you think and what is it?
Nigeria will change for the better. The day we realize that we need to invest in the Nigerian citizen, the day we realize that the Nigerian citizens have basic right to infrastructure things will change. It will not be over night but gradually the value system will begin to shift positively.
I think the value system needs to change as against which wealth is only currently being revolved around.
However, I would disagree that the few youths have the opportunities are mismanaging it. Why I say so that the proportion of youths below 35 years holding political office is less than two per cent.
So, if the youths are not really there?
How would you describe the journey of Wennovation Hub over the years?
LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited, The Journey of Wennovation Hub.
It was co-founded in 2009 by me and my childhood friend based on a better society when we were in primary school. Then, we would like to give you money to take a bus to school, but we will end up walking, and we will be able to talk about it. Two years ago Lofty Inn Allied Partners with the world of innovation and knowledge enhancement.
LoftyInc builds a base where innovators would be given a springboard to launch and serve innovation world. That culminated into Wennovation's Hub in 2010 when it was launched and started operating in 2011. Our journey through the years has been up to date. What are you now?
There was a time we lost our space and we had to move into my home.
The experience has become part of our knowledge and we know it, we know it, and it becomes easier to teach them.
We may know that the journey of entrepreneurship can be very successful, but it can be highly rewarding if you develop the right resilience in a team of people who would band along with you. It can be very difficult when you are tackling challenges, but when it is finally over you will find that the tears of many years will be wiped away.
What is your advice to the government of youths?
They should start to encourage young people through their procurement policy, they should start to accommodate young people. Government should not wait for the company to be with your account. They should look for a small ways that they would be able to accommodate themselves to the market.
We know government is the biggest spender in any economy, the private sector, and if the small scale businesses are the engine of growth for any economy then, they should be accommodated in the procurement and contract policy of government.
Many youths today tend to shift responsibilities and wants to make it big, what is your advice?
Responsibility is very important. I will also say that it is more about building the right value around yourself; They should face it, but they should face it, because they are coming from, but they should not be fraudulent.
The youth should stop the blame and begin to take action. Take positive action to achieve a good result that will make impact rather than passing the blame. Ask yourself what you have done to bring about positive changes in the society. If you are complaining of the national assembly as one of our biggest problem,
So, making positive impact include joining a political party; setting up a political party; it may also include establishing businesses that will solve problems, and this inclusion being a voice in the society.
How would you describe the business environment in Nigeria? Is it youth friendly?
Like some said, the way is a favored Nigerian business landscape.
The Nigerian youth do not have the opportunity to express themselves, and a lot of people do not believe in the youth.
You have to go for it; work for it, if possible dive deep; You just have to challenge the statuesque for what you want to have a youth, not necessarily by force, but you have to be aware of it.
So, if any young person wants to be able to convince the person that he is capable of managing those things.