Nigeria - Young entrepreneurs in the starting blocks!
Youth Inclusion and Education - Young entrepreneurs in the starting blocks!
Every year, in Nigeria’s Delta State, TotalEnergies enables five young people from the Koko community to create their own company in the profession of their choice via a local skills training program including a support for starting their business.
On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, Blessing Nesiama stepped into an exciting new phase of her life. That was the day the 26-year-old Nigerian received a support package in the form of a full set of equipment that would allow her to launch her new special-order baking business. It included a beater/mixer, a professional oven and an electric generator. Even better, this start-up kit included the covering of two years’ rent for her new shop in the commercial area of the city of Sapele in the Delta State in southern Nigeria. This support rewarded Nesiama’s many past efforts and opened up new windows of opportunity for her.
Supporting entrepreneurs with their first steps
“I wasn’t able to continue my education past high school, as I couldn’t afford it, and I had always loved baking,” she explained. “So instead of sitting at home doing nothing, I decided to become an intern at Peacewind Ballons in Sapele. In my two years there, I learned the techniques for baking and decorating cakes. In 2018, I launched Beez Potentials, a little baking business I managed from home. But I still needed some help to improve my skills and make my business into something sustainable.”
Blessing Nesiama therefore decided to apply to a competencies-development program sponsored by TotalEnergies. This one-year curriculum offers training for young Nigerians in a range of sectors including welding, carpentry, fashion design and beauty, computer science, fishing and agriculture. This program is run in partnership with recognized entities and at specialized centers. In 2020, four other candidates benefitted from the program in addition to Nesiama, selected on the basis of individual interviews among many other applicants and allowing them to come into their own in their respective sectors of choice: Bridget Ika in hairstyling and make-up, Blessing Ebienayon and Anirejuoritshe David in fashion design and Joshua Omatshola in welding and marine construction. “The interviews lasted more than three hours,” Blessing Nesiama recalls. “When I found out I had been chosen, I realized my life was about to change. The training I received was really in line with my needs. It was wonderful.”
A program designed around local needs
All the beneficiaries of the training come from the Koko community, a small port city that is the capital of the Local Government Area of Warri North in Nigeria’s Delta State. This program enables them to acquire the know-how they need to make their businesses a success. Every month, they also receive 8,000 nairas to cover their transportation fees and meals during the program.
At the end of their training, TotalEnergies provides them with a business startup kit. Awarded during the graduation ceremony, the kit includes an introductory guide to entrepreneurship as well as the tools and equipment they will need to create their own SME. Each one of these kits, which are essential for getting their business off to a good start, is customized to the profession and needs of the individual recipients: an oven for Blessing, a welding station for Joshua and salon chairs for Bridget, for example. The affiliate also covers the first two years of rent for the recipients’ professional premises to help them get going immediately. TotalEnergies and the Koko Partnership Consultative Committee, which represents the members of the Koko community, then support the new graduates over the first few months of their businesses.
The training I received was really in line with my needs. It was wonderful.
Helping young people in the delta state enter the workforce
Launched by TotalEnergies in 2006, this annual competencies-development program makes it possible to train a growing number of disadvantaged young people in the profession of their choice and help them start a business. Consequently, the initiative helps stimulate economic development in the Koko community. It is an example of TotalEnergies’ commitment to promoting independence and employment for vulnerable young Nigerians in the Delta State by providing pragmatic, long-term support that is tailored to the local context. The goal is for these beneficiaries to then train and help build the skills of other people in the region, with a positive ripple effect on employment and the local economy of the regions that the Company operates in.
“As soon as I opened up my shop, several companies contacted me about training for their staff. Schools, churches and individuals reached out to me too,” explains Nesiama. “I’ve already hired 12 interns from different regions of Nigeria. I train them, passing on what I learned. My company was also recently named Best Cake Shop of the Year 2020 by a local media group, Sapele Oghenek. The support I received has truly allowed me to turn my passion into a livelihood. I have my cake and eat it too!”
- 5 - competencies-development program selects five young people from the Koko community.
- 64 - Since its creation in 2006, the program has allowed 64 people to receive training.
- 2 - Two years’ worth of rent for professional premises is included in the program’s support.