It is a known fact that Kogi State is one of the most naturally endowed states in Nigeria. Large water bodies, arable land for cultivation and mechanised farming, lush grazing grounds for livestock breeding and mineral resources most of which are available in commercial quantity are only a few endowments of the confluence state.
The states greatest resource however is in its human resource. With a population of over four million (NBS 2016), the youth who make up its larger majority can play a vital role in the state economy; if they are equipped with the right education, skills, and jobs and enabling environment for creativity and innovation, the youth have the potential of becoming the most important drivers of economic growth.
Just like other regions across Nigeria, the state grapples with the harnessing the available human resource that is available in its youth through sustainable approaches to human capital development.
Every year, the state receives graduates enmasse from its tertiary institutions who are ready to begin productive lives and want to be integrated into the states labor force.
Some of these graduates will continue with their education but a larger population will enter the workforce. Upon entering the workforce, they will find that the labour force is not creating new jobs that are commensurate with the number of fresh graduates that get into the states labor force every year.
Data provided by yourbudgit.com in 2017, showed that the unemployment rate in Kogi State increased from 37.2% in Q1 2017 top 39.8% in Q2 2017 and 43% in Q3 2017. The number of people within the labor force who are unemployed or underemployed increased from 837,159 in Q1 2017 and 912,058 in Q2 2017 to 996,765 in Q3 2017.
The implications of these statistics and the problems that they portend mean that deliberate steps must be taken to solve the issues of unemployment, underemployment through innovative and sustainable approaches for job creation and youth employment
In response to solving this problem, Mentor-Box has developed a strategic framework and implementation plan for job creation and youth employment in Kogi State.
The “Kogi Jobs” program is a four year holistic plan for job creation and youth employment in Kogi State.
Achieving the objectives of this framework will require cross sector collaboration involving stakeholders including state primarily the Office of the Deputy Governor and the Federal Government, Private Sector, Civil Society, Development Partners, Multilateral and Bilateral Donor Agencies.
This framework to creating opportunities through sustainable approaches to decent work and economic growth will be implemented over a four year period (2020-2023)
The Strategic framework has five key areas:
Youth in Agriculture
Youth in Entrepreneurship
Youth in Manufacturing
Youth in the Creative Industry
Youth in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT)
The five key areas were selected based on an appraisal of sector specific needs of youths and resources shared across the three senatorial regions in Kogi State. The selection of these key areas reflects the need to prioritize informal sector employment opportunities and ensure that underserved and hard to reach locations most acutely affected by youth unemployment are not neglected.
In line with our strategic objectives for creating opportunities for young people particularly vulnerable groups we have leveraged on multi sector collaborations between the State Government, Private Organizations, Development Partners and other key players to introduce digital skills training targeted at up skilling and preparing young people for opportunities in the technology sector.
Driven by our commitment to becoming an enabler of sustainable economic growth and development in Nigerian we introduced the Mentor-Box Business Clinic, a free business Master class and Consulting Clinic aimed at equipping aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs with skills, tools, requisite knowledge, and business mentorship to promote business growth and acceleration.
Since we launched the program in April 2019 we have trained and mentored 183 aspiring entrepreneurs and 97 emerging entrepreneurs in the country cutting across various business sub sectors.
In the time of our existence we have birthed few startups with high potential through the approach of using indigenous ideas to solve local business problems. We are happy to share stories of startups that we are currently incubating; startups like Wakalo a tricycle transport service focused on providing safer and more efficient transport services and crest.ng an online mall and delivery service startup.
The presence of these startups that have been birthed in our Hub within the short time that we have launched our programs shows that with the right business environment, Kogi State where we presently operate from has the potential to create more youth led startups like Wakalo and Crest.ng.
At Mentor-Box we are of the strong believe that with the right business environment, an idea with significant potential can transform into a business delivering high quality products and services while also creating sustainable employment opportunities for and adding overall socio-economic value to the communities it operates in and the larger society.
In May June 2020 we introduced the Mentor-Box Virtual Business Incubator. In the first cohort 30 entrepreneurs across Nigeria with innovative solutions to identified market gaps were selected, trained and supported with an array of learning resources to support the growth of their startups.
The entrepreneurs were trained using a blended learning model comprising of the Venture Capital For Africa (VC4A Academy) curriculum and the Mentor-Box curriculum for soft skills development. Participants who completed the training program have been matched with experienced business mentors with vast experience in their respective fields.
Mentor-Box also supported some of the startups that had viable business models with seed funds to support their businesses.
To ensure that the interests of our stakeholders and key beneficiaries are well represented with Policy Makers, we believe in active participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes that shape and enable opportunities for decent jobs and sustainable development.
It is for this reason that we started the Spend Kogi Money In Kogi campaign. A policy based campaign initiative aimed at mitigating the effects of capital flight on the local economy by encouraging residents to help contribute growing the state economy by spending at least 10% more of their disposable income patronizing local businesses in the state.