White Collar-Job in Agriculture - Quintessential Young Leaders




I came to Nigeria a few months ago to explore some business opportunities. During the course of my stay, I’ve met up and run into a few friends; people I’ve managed to keep in touch with all these years. One of those friends, Onyew B*, has been a friend of mine for over thirteen years. During one of our many talks, she told me about an organisation she has working with – Quintessential Business Women Association (QBWA), under the Quintessential Young Leaders (QYL) arm. From what I understood, the aim of QYL is to prepare and train young people for leadership roles in various aspects business. However, the parent group, QBWA, is laser-focused on the development and empowerment of women and young people for business in the agriculture and solid minerals sectors.
I told her my SME Advisory firm, Herança Financial, has clients in that industry, but I’ve never personally cared for business in agriculture. She tried to encourage me to consider it, but I wouldn’t budge. Last week, she invited me to a conference the QYL was organizing in partnership with QBWA and the Federal Ministry and Youth Development in Abuja. I was going to be  Abuja that week, so I accepted.
Friday, November 7th, I found my way to the National Centre for Women Development. It wasn’t hard to find, so I got there at about 8:35am. It was to start at 9:00am.


To my surprise, unlike a couple other events, I had been to in my short time back, it started relatively on time – about 9:30am-ish. It was called White Collar Job In Agric. They meant business lol. Everyone got a lanyard with a participant card, plus a branded pen, folder and notepad. I thought that was quite impressive. 
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They had ten speakers, but I could only stay for the opening speech (which Onyew gave) and the first presentation (which I was most interested in) on business in agriculture by a representative from the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Before the SMEDAN representative began, there was a short charge by Shimite Katung, Founder of QBWA. She was quite electrifying lol. I could tell she’s very passionate about developing people for leadership as well as helping develop highly successful businesses in the Agriculture and Solid Minerals industries.
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The presentation was quite informative. I hardly get excited about things, but yesterday, the speaker piqued by interest. QYL hoped for five hundred attendees, but they made about half of that while I was there. To help out, I’ll share what I learnt about QYL and starting/owning a small business in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Agriculture is a major branch of any economy, most especially the Nigerian economy. It has the potential to generate employment for up to seventy percent (70%) of the population. Unfortunately, Nigeria relies more on imports than being self-sufficient. Nigeria is at a point where the export of crude oil isn’t going to cut it anymore, and requires its youth to become agro-entrepreneurs.
Nigeria is so richly blessed that each of its thirty-six (36) states has at least two unique agricultural products it can contribute to the economy – for both its populates and for export, but the opportunities aren’t being properly explored. The Nigerian agricultural industry has the raw materials to mass produce and export beef, cassava bran (garri), dairy products, fish, fruits, goat, groundnuts, grass-cutters, poultry, rice, snails, variety of vegetables, and waste-to-work materials.
If you’re wondering, as I was, how successful a business in agricultural produce can be, here are some numbers we were given at the conference: Africa spends thirty billion dollars ($30,000,000,000.00USD) annually on the importation poultry products, and Nigeria spends fifty billion naira (N50,000,000,000NGN) on the importation of fish annually. That’s a lot of money in any currency lol.
With all this potential, there is very little interest because of the stigma attached to agriculture in Nigeria. A lot of young Nigerians think agriculture and farming are synonymous, and they are not interested in being farmers; and there lies the misconception. Agro-entrepreneurs aren’t farmers; they are people who make money from running successful businesses in the agricultural sector. As was pointed out during the conference, there are different avenues available – beef production, cattle raring, fish farming, poultry farming, mechanized farming, development of devices and machinery for farming, frozen foods facilities, logistics and transportation, packaging facilities, and warehousing.
I have a lot on my plate, but I think I wouldn’t mind investing in an agric start up, or partnering up with someone or a group of people looking to take advantage of the opportunities in the Nigerian agricultural industry. Apparently, even the government is giving grants to companies looking to develop quality agricultural products for local consumption and exportation.
Alright, that’s about it. I hope I’ve inspired someone to take a chance. As Sir Richard Branson once said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity, and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
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