Entrepreneurship is tremendously important for any economy, for its ability to make a significant impact on citizens and nations as a whole.
Thus, an early introduction and exposure to entrepreneurship and innovation is more likely to sow the seeds of entrepreneurial careers for students at a future juncture.
Since education is essential to enhance the thinking abilities and as entrepreneurship ecosystem is developed by the interplay of actors like universities, government and entrepreneurs themselves, universities become the hotbed of fostering the required entrepreneurial environment.
Therefore, as universities are places of higher education, attracting a workforce who wants to lead a better life, they can transform themselves into breeding grounds for budding entrepreneurs.
Recognizing the importance of entrepreneurship to economic development and job creation, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) is taking steps to promote entrepreneurship in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
With this effort, universities can be able to impart entrepreneurial skills and act as incubation centres to follow up and promote potential ideas by facilitating collaborations and incubation capacities not only to students from the area of business, innovation and entrepreneurship, but also from other areas like engineering, humanities, applied sciences and medicine.
TETFund is therefore, ensuring that the role of tertiary institutions as knowledge transferrers and as a bridge between academia and industry is noteworthy.
Against this, the Fund, along with Directors of Entrepreneurship Centres in six Beneficiary Universities recently embarked on visits to selected institutions in the United States to understudy key strategic partners on sustainable and integrated models, as blueprints for innovation labs hubs and Entrepreneurship Centres in Nigerian tertiary educational institutions.
The six Beneficiary Universities include the Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin. University of Maiduguri, University of Nigeria, University of Ilorin and Ahmadu Bello University.
The participation of the institutions provided ample knowledge on the establishment, management and sustenance of effective entrepreneurship hubs in the institutions with the goal of improving employability in Nigeria.
TETFund had previously advocated increased opportunities for Nigerian youths to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship.
It stressed that entrepreneurship will go a long way in curbing the menace of huge unemployment in Nigeria and consequently tackle the socio-economic problems that are prevalent in Nigeria, while challenging tertiary institutions in Nigeria to increase their attention and budgetary allocation to entrepreneurship programmes so as to produce more entrepreneurs that would birth solutions to several societal problems and not just graduates.
TETFund Executive Secretary, Sonny Echono, who stated this when he hosted the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Fund’s headquarters, in Abuja, said one of his primary goals as TETFund boss is to make tertiary institutions a place to produce entrepreneurs, disclosing plans to reinforce huge investments in the 13 new Universities to fast-track their rate of progress, with a view to achieving the purpose of establishing them.
He restated that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has given his full support to education as evident in the recent presidential approval of an upward review of education tax from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent, which will enable TETFund to cope with increasing demands.
The TETFund boss expressed appreciation at the show of support from the governor and pledged continued commitment to the development of tertiary education in the state.
Also, on the occasion of the opening of TETFund Alliance for Innovative Research (TETFAIR) initiative in Abuja, Echono expressed the readiness of the Fund to replicate innovation hub projects in public universities and other higher education institutions in the country.
The TETFund boss, who said the TETFAIR programme was put in place in collaboration with Innov8 Hub, revealed that the move was part of efforts to institutionalise Research and Development (R&D) in Nigeria.
The TETFAIR programme is being conducted by TETFund in collaboration with Innov8 Technology Hub, a firm championing the advancement of Science and Technology Education in Nigeria.
He was quoted Saying, “The programme is designed to support the advancement of solution-driven research, innovation and sustainable development in Nigeria. Being a year-long programme, TETFAIR is aimed at providing a unique opportunity for our academics and researchers in Nigerian Universities to transform their ideas into market-driven solutions, including the development and fabrication of prototypes.
“Through the programme, selected teams of researchers and academic staff with promising ideas for innovative solutions in the programme areas of focus, are being taken through a journey that combines technology and product development along with venture creation.”
While saying many Nigerians who took part in start-up programmes by Innov8 hub have recorded many breakthroughs in inventions and technology, Echono said, “TETFund is committed to replicating this (innovation hubs) in our tertiary institutions.”
“The programme is carefully packaged to take the participants through various courses that combine the intricacies, processes and procedures of Innovation Development, Prototyping and Venture Creation to enable them to bring their innovative ideas to fruition.
“They will also go through training and mentorship on the business/entrepreneurial aspect of their project. At the end of the programme, participants will have the opportunity to showcase their innovations to stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem and potential investors, both local and international,” he said.
Speaking further, Echono said the initiative is also aimed at providing solutions to identified challenges based on strategic needs and national priorities in areas such as Agriculture and Food Technology; Environment, Energy and Circular Economy; Health and Accessibility: Information Communication Technology; Security; Transportation, Aviation, Shipping, among others Technology; Security; Transportation, Aviation, Shipping, among others.