The third graduation of the Ready Set Work (RSW) – the work-readiness and entrepreneurship initiative of the Lagos State Government for undergraduates – will remain memorable for Vivian.
It was at that event held on Tuesday at the Landmark Event Centre, Lekki that the 20-year old student of the Lagos State University (LASU) was announced winner of the Business Pitch competition of the initiative.
Vivian who had lost hope of even emerging the second runner up, was dumbfounded when a clip of her presentation was projected signifying her as the winner.
With teary eyes, she mounted the podium. Unable to contain her joy, she stood helplessly crying until she was comforted by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode who congratulated her for her feat.
Governor Ambode gave her N5million – an addition to the original N1.5 million prize meant as seed fund for her organic skin care products.
Vivian will also get N100,000 working capital for three months while she works to take her project off the ground.
The Lagos State University student’s idea on skin care products made with herbal, natural organic oils to solve skin issues wowed the judges ahead of 14 others.
Vivian, who started her business eight months ago, was happy to receive funds that would help expand her business.
The final year English student said: “I was surprised when my name was called. I never expected to even be among the three best; because initially I was not doing well at first. I did not know what to do. But I am surprised that I won. I told my friend this morning that I would not be among the winners today because during the presentation, there were many contenders who I felt did much better than me.
“This money will really help my business a lot because it is something I have passion for. It is something I have been into for eight months. I have been able to reach out to people, able to treat their skin issues and provide products that do not damage the skin. My products are natural products that help to maintain the skin colour. I thank Governor Ambode for this programme. It has help me academically; my self-esteem’ my communication skills; and my business”
Her friend, Latifat Adewale who also shared in the happiness, said she has learnt persistence from her friend’s success
“Ready Set Work has been educative, entertaining and mind opening. My happiest moment since this programme began is today. Seeing my friend clinche the first position was a dream that was almost thrown away. She had actually lost hope in the contest because she was not really the talking type. Even before the competition there was a time she told me that she cannot continue but as a friend, I always tried to encourage her not to give up.
“When they announced the third and second place and I did not hear her name, I was devastated .but when her name was mention as the winner, tears dropped down my eyes. Immediately I had flashback of all the chats we had; how she almost gave up this life time opportunity. Then it dawned on me that, no matter what, we should not give up because you don’t know how close you are to your breakthrough,” said Latifat, a final year student of Business Administration at LASU.
Ayodeji Popoola who won the second place with his Eko Laundry business idea, got N4 million from the Governor and N1 million seed funding and a working capital of 100,000 for three months.
Filled with joy, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) said the 13-week intensive training was a life changer for him.
“I didn’t expect it, I can’t just explain the feeling, I went blank when I was called. RSW has been the most impactful programme I have ever attended in my life. The beauty of this is that all through my 13 weeks, I never for once felt nonchalant to attend the training. Every Saturday, I woke up early; in fact I plan the day before. I was able to learn and understood how to solve problems. I learnt what emotional intelligence is; work place characters. It was also a moment of network with people. I learnt how to accommodate and appreciate other people’s view point.
“As a young Nigerian the first thing i gave up was my Saturday football. I used to watch football every Saturday and used that time to hang out with my friends, family time, rest, and also to reflect on how the week went so I had to give up all that. But I am proud to say it was worth the sacrifice,” he said.
Mariam Adeniyi of LASU came third. She presented a snail business idea that she has been into with her mum. She won the governor’s prize of N3 million in addition to N750,000 and a working capital of 100,000nairafor three months.
About 2,000 students who successfully completed the programme, would be placed for a three to six months paid internship with various organisations in the state.
Ambode said he was excited that the initiative had impacted the lives of students greatly.
He said he was happy to have made a difference in his tenure.
“When I was graduating I had no direction. So when I see this happening after almost about 30 something years and I see people who are so energetic, excited I can say I have made a lot of difference. This is not about building bridges, hospitals and fly overs. I feel so excited today that I got this right and the future of this country is bright.
“Three years ago I looked at about 500 students, 52 volunteers and friends and partners for this programme. At that time Ready Set Work was a new birthed idea and a deliberate endeavour of this administration that any student who graduated from tertiary institutions in our state, should get all the requisite skills, knowledge and tools as well as the right mindset to contribute to the labour market. I am pleased to say we have stayed true to this vision and scaled up our impact. I am delighted to see how that small spark in2015 has become a roaring fire. 500in 2016 we are celebrating today the impact of the programme in the lives of over 37,000 students who have participated in this programme over the last three years. This so far has been achievable because of the committed sponsors, facilitators, and volunteers”.
His Special Adviser on Education, Obafela Bank-Olemoh explained that the government was skeptical about the success and sustainability of the programme but was happy to know that human capital investment which is key to the success of any nation, was paramount to those who volunteered to support the programme. Also those students embraced the opportunity to develop themselves.
The Vice Chanclellor, LASU, Prof Lanre Fagbohun.=, praised the government for the initiative that has been addressing unemployment in the country since it started in 2015.
“To the period preceding the last three years, the consistent challenge for the employers of labour has been the difficulty of finding employable graduates to fill available vacancies. The consensus was that there is a visible gap between the quality of tertiary institution graduates in Nigeria and the demands of the employers. The legitimate expectation is that a tertiary institution graduate should be able to demonstrate basic understanding of the global economy, politics and relevant human natural relationships. Beyond his understanding in the area of specialization, graduate must be able to bring new ideas to the work place, solve problems in a dynamic manner with the deployment of ICT..
“ Beyond the rhetoric of unending doubts and suspicion of whether our graduates can ever measure up to standard and intellectual doom for Nigeria, the Lagos state government has use the last three years to begin a refraction and transformation of the green spectra of yester years using focused actives aimed at preparing participants for skilled entrepreneurship. Rsw has inspired change. Our students now recognize the need to stand up for greatness, originality. They exude the confidence and strength that goes beyond the individual self-interest and supremacy of the mediocre” he said.
Mrs Feclicia Obosuwa of FCMB explained that it was worth the sacrifice to invest in the future hands. She though it was a 13week stressful experience but they actually learnt from students whom they had expected to teach
“The adviser said the state was looking at a 13week programme to prepare young graduates for the world of work. As soon as we heard the concept we came on board. We are not here as volunteers, we take up interns and retain interns as staff in the company. We do this because we recognize the need to invest in the future of the state and the country. When we started we had the mind that interns would come and learn from us but indeed we learnt a lot from our interns. News perspectives, ideas, new blood in our organization and that is why we are always very eager to retain them after they intern with us.