Opeyemi Adeyanju is executive director of Africa Young Entrepreneur and MD/CEO of Mabo Brand Concept Ltd, Lagos State. In this interview with HANNAH ONI, the young entrepreneur speaks on how entrepreneurs can surmount operational challenges to become successful business owners.
Entrepreneurs now prefer to approach cooperatives for loans instead of microfinance banks. What could be responsible?
The reason is not far-fetched, most microfinance banks will not lend money to startup businesses simply because they are just starting and there are no premises to measure the credit worthiness of the borrowing entrepreneur.
However, as a member of a cooperative society and by the fact that such individual must have contributed over a period of time, that automatically qualifies such person for loans in the cooperative.
Moreover, the process of accessing loans in cooperatives is much easier than that of MFBs. Permit me to reveal that accessing loans from microfinance banks are still much easier for small businesses than commercial banks that will be requesting for collateral that is double the worth of the requested loan.
What is your advice to state governments on the issue of formulating policy framework for entrepreneurs especially start-ups?
There are lots of opportunities out there which our governors and political leaders can see from the angle of entrepreneurship. We have the resources but we aren’t tapping into these resources. There should be a massive human capital development. They should go into Public Private Partnership (PPP) to train their young entrepreneurs. They should also bring in skilled personnel to give direction and to create enabling environment where people can work.
Moreover, government should give the youths a listening ear. Until our government begins to invest in the youths, we won’t have solution to our problems. Until they reason like entrepreneurs, our problems cannot be solved. So, government should put itself in the position of entrepreneurs which will make them share the pain of business owners.
How do we grow entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
I am an advocate of entrepreneurship, in an economy like Nigeria where we have everything working for us, we lack human capital. So, our intention is to help individuals discover their skills and talents, use same talent to solve problems and then build a business around it, which is, the entrepreneurship. Our focus is to empower and build their capacity so that they can build quality businesses.
The future of entrepreneurship vis-à-vis leadership challenge at all levels of policy making is critical.
The country has enormous opportunities to be self- sufficient without necessarily depending on others to survive. But our leaders lack the acumen to embark on such journey. They don’t understand entrepreneurship which is reflected in the kind of unfriendly policies they are dishing out. Rather than these policies to be an incentive, it becomes disincentive because it was poorly conceived.
However, we are still pleading with our leaders, especially, the political class to create policies that will create enabling environment for our businesses to grow.
What are the challenges you are facing as an incubator?
When you are in an environment that you know is not conducive to run businesses and as well not supporting businesses enough, you will definitely face challenges. For example, as an incubator, we need to accelerate other startups. Again, we are crowd funding most of these businesses.
The businesses that could have just walked into banks or any financial institution or government institution to get grants to start a business or to see investors who will invest into their businesses are unable to do so because of policy summersaults.
Investors are not confident to put their money into any startup for fear that government could just introduce an unfriendly policy. We have seen it happened several times.
Investors are also being careful, but as an incubator, we’ll find ways to be creative and strategise around it by crowd funding and not just depending on one investor.
So, our major challenge right now is inconsistency of government policies and we are appealing that they create favourable policies and not policies that kills businesses.