To commemorate International Youth Day 2017, Access Bank and Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) developed the Youth Entrepreneurship Essay Competition. The essay competition was created to provide a platform for the youth to suggest possible solutions that highlight how entrepreneurship can help to solve the youth unemployment crisis in Nigeria. Young people from different parts of the world contributed to this discussion, and at the close of the competition, over 2,000 essays were received.
The winners of the competition were announced on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at the Access Bank Head Office in an award ceremony well attended by scores of youth participants and a number of youth influencers. At the event, Olayinka Yomi-Tokosi, Head, Youth Banking, Access Bank, explained that “A great way of investing and empowering the youth is to drive them towards entrepreneurship, as entrepreneurship creates jobs, increases innovation, raises competition and is responsive to changing economic opportunities and trends”.
The event also featured a session on “The Value of Entrepreneurship as a tool for Addressing Youth Unemployment in Nigeria” where participants shared their thoughts, ideas, knowledge and experiences around the theme. Also speaking at the event, Amaechi Okobi, Head, Strategic Brand Management stated that “Access Bank is proud to be a part of this initiative as turning Passion to Portfolio is part of what we believe in”.
Awards were presented to Ogbuagu Hope, as the 2nd runner up, Eigbobo Michelle, as the 1st runner up and Mariam Azeez, as the winner of the Youth Entrepreneurship. In her Acceptance speech, Mariam Azeez, an Economic student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, expressed her gratitude to Access Bank and JAN for organizing the initiative, saying that “The youth are the bane of any nation, however, youth unemployment is potentially dangerous as it sends disturbing signals to all segments of the economy. Therefore, to bring about a transformational change, we must create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem”. She added that “the creation of this ecosystem jointly rests on the private and public sector”.
In June 2016, Access Bank began a partnership with the Lagos State Government to adequately equip 500 undergraduate students with required skill-set to excel in the corporate and entrepreneurial world. In a statement, the bank noted that it has so far trained 21 students from Lagos State College of Health, Lagos State Polytechnic and Lagos State University, adding that the inaugural set of students have already completed their six months internship program. All this is in line with the Bank’s focus on ensuring Sustainable development through youth empowerment and development.