The Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme (AEP), Tertiary Edition thoroughly educates student entrepreneurs on the fundamentals of business. It also provides support for them at no cost. Currently, the programme is sponsored by Standard Chartered Foundation and Youth Business International.
Mr Afolabi Tajudeen Adeola, the Founder of FATE Foundation might not be a civil engineer but he certainly has interesting thoughts on the most important type of construction work – building up youths. In translating these thoughts to reality, various programmes have been established.
I had the privilege to participate in the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme (AEP) and here’s my story:
Before the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme (AEP)
As a fourth-year student of a federal university in 2022, I am a victim of a tussle between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
One day, my friend, Ìbùkúnolúwa Dàda, sent me a broadcast from the Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan (UCJUI). The broadcast specifically targeted female student entrepreneurs for its intensive entrepreneurial training. I thought that I might be a good fit but I doubted my entrepreneurial capabilities, however, Ìbùkúnolúwa gave me some advice which prompted me to apply for the programme.
The following week, I lost hope because the programme had commenced. However, God sent me a miracle through a phone call from a representative of the FATE Foundation and an e-mail of admission. I did a quick celebration spin and prepared an outfit for the next day.
My First Day in Class
As I walked into the fully air-conditioned classroom, I was blown away – not by the cold air- but by the scene before me. The classroom was more organised than I had imagined. It seemed like an international conference. Files, name tags and packs of books were neatly arranged on the table opposite the participants. Even in the hands of many were chinaware tea cups containing either coffee, tea or a choco drink. I couldn’t figure out what was going on so I missed breakfast.
With time, I caught on to what was happening in the class. We had two amazing facilitators come to teach us about goals and thinking. Also, I met other classmates and was not surprised to discover that the bulk of the class were students from my school [University of Ibadan].
At the end of the day, the Programme Associate, Mr. Simeon Oluwaseyi Peter told me to introduce myself to the class. I managed not to stutter while telling the class that I make bags and write content.
During the Programme: Cuisines and Connections
The Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme fed us with intellectual cuisines from different fields of discipline, then with actual tantalizing meals. The facilitators who took different courses in the programme were all professionals; they explained theory and gave practical examples, with real-life situations.
I particularly enjoyed the session on Defining Your Market taken by Mr Adeoye Adekoya. I learned not to sell to everyone. Another interesting session was that of the Business Model Canvas facilitated by Mr Ogunsola Daniel. He strongly advised us to do away with emotions and assumptions in the world of business. I was intrigued by his words so I wrote a story around them. [Mission Impossible]
Also, if our class was given a dollar each time we enthusiastically welcomed the facilitators with our signature clap, we may have saved enough to start up our hypothetical businesses.
During the course of the programme, we were divided into groups and came up with five beautiful business ideas. They are:
- G-Two [Group Two Waste Outlet]: Solving the problem of waste management and providing the solution of compost making.
- My Health: Bringing healthcare to an individual’s doorstep digitally.
- Sumptuous Taste: A food business targeting remote workers and business people who do not have the time to prepare meals.
- A-GROW: A business that provides a platform for connecting food producers and consumers.
- FATE Transport and Logistics: In this group, which I was a part of, we formed this business to solve the problem of transporting people and goods efficiently and economically.
The Various Types of Cuisines
My favourite intellectual cuisine was finance. I’ve been to many places and tasted varieties of “finance” but I dare to say that the AEP’s finance cuisine is the most delicious of them all. The ingredients were adequate in proportion and it was excellently cooked. The meal wasn’t hard like others I had tasted; it was cooked to tenderness and I’m thankful for this because it was something my finance milk teeth could chew.
Moving on to the other kind of cuisine (the tantalizing meals), the sponsors of AEP understood that learning requires sound health and a sane mind. A popular saying goes thus: “a hungry man is an angry man”. Therefore, in the course of this programme, all students were fed with two important meals of the day – breakfast and lunch. The Jollof and Fried rice combination with a side dressing of fried plantain or coleslaw and meat was my favourite meal. The quality of the meals was nothing short of top-notch.
Standing before kings requires a platform to meet kings. Moving on to the area of connections, AEP offered that platform freely to all the participants – some facilitators offered to start a business with some students, providing an opportunity for growth and profit making.
Still speaking of connections, mentoring sessions were held during the course of the programme. Having experienced entrepreneurs to guide you is important; cheers to FATE Foundation for meeting that need.
Football fans may understand the feelings that come with watching the highlights of a well-played match so my apologies are to non-football fans who may not fully understand the emotions of highlights such as these. I will now proceed to describe some major highlights of this programme:
1. Entrepreneurial Visit to My World of Bags
On Wednesday, August 17 2022, we took a trip to the workstation of My World of Bags. We had the opportunity to learn from Mrs. Femi Olayebi, CEO, My World of Bags. I learnt the importance of quality in one’s business and always delivering to the customer promptly. Quoting the creative business woman, “I’m looking at the ability to deliver on the job. The money is the bonus.”
2. Visit to THE WASTE MUSEUM, Moniya
Friday, August 26 marked the last day of the programme. Dr Awotiku, one of the facilitators gave us a treat by organizing a trip to the FIRST WASTE MUSEUM IN AFRICA. We had the opportunity of meeting with Mrs. Adejumoke Olowookere, the woman behind the vision. It was an awesome experience seeing what is termed as “trash” being put to good and creative use. We learnt about protecting the environment and appreciating the gifts of nature.
This article is incomplete without mentioning the excellence demonstrated by the Programme Associate, Mr. Simeon Oluwaseyi Peter, and the Programme Intern, Mr. Dickson Opeyemi. They excellently coordinated 40 students and attended to their needs. They went the extra mile in ensuring that our thirst for knowledge was quenched, and sowed seeds of greatness.
After AEP: The End of This Story and the Beginning of Another
Here I am in my small room somewhere in Ibadan, writing as a result of the opportunity given to me by Mrs Adenike Adeyemi (the Executive Director of FATE Foundation). She gave me the opportunity to tell the world about my experience as a beneficiary of this programme. I don’t take it for granted so I pour my heart into this piece.
In addition, I am doing my best to abide by the principles I have learnt from this programme. I kid you not when I say that Microsoft Excel spreadsheets give me joy now.
It may be the end of this story because the two-month Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme has come to an end, but it is just the beginning. 40 Nigerian entrepreneurs have emerged to tell their stories to the world through the works of their hands. It is the dawn of THE EXTRAORDINARY SET.
Written by: Ebunoreofe Adedeji (AEP 114 – The Extraordinary Set)