The Founder and Executive Director, Revolutionary Marketing Concepts Limited, Wale Deinde, speaks on the nation’s high unemployment rate and how to tackle the problem, in this interview with Rasheed Bisiriyu of Punch Newspaper
How would you rate the government’s performance in the area of empowerment?
We all know that every government has its peculiar challenges. Because I understand the situation of the country right now, I’ll rate them average. Some of the promises they made, including the recruitment of teachers, are still in the pipeline. The government must know the difference between youth development and youth empowerment. Youth development is centred on developing the capacity of the individual youth, while youth empowerment is focused on creating a community change. Therefore, any government operating with a youth development framework is not addressing social inequities, but rather developing the individuals within an unjust society and not addressing the source of the problem.
How is the Nigeria Self Help Group different from the numerous empowerment programmes set up by the government?
We have seen many empowerment programmes in Nigeria which can be termed as a “let-my-people-go” kind of empowerment. In the actual sense, these are youth development programmes, not empowerment programmes as tagged. This is a process whereby the government turns out over 10,000 trainees after a one-day seminar on things like soap making, bead making and cake making. This brings about the question: Why are they training these people to produce and not how to project? Every prospective entrepreneur must be thoroughly tutored and must also have these four legs of business if they want to succeed: the idea capital, the cash capital, the projection capital and the capacity capital. Where most of upcoming entrepreneurs fail is in the aspect of projection capital, which is also known as marketing. Imagine someone who was trained or empowered to produce liquid soap and still has neighbours buying other liquid soaps in the market. Our kind of empowerment is called the B2E (Beginning-to-the-End) model because the minimum period of training is three months. The trainees will be taught communication and marketing skills to project their products and services, and before the end of the training, our freelance or guerrilla marketers are on the ground to do synergy marketing for them. Also, there is what we call internal patronage, which means if you know how to produce liquid soap as a member of the Nigeria Self Help Group, it is mandatory for every member to patronise you. This means selling your product to over 100,000 members in your group. So, our empowerment is from start to finish, from obscurity to prominence. Even when you are done with the training, we won’t still leave you; we do a lot of synergy in the group for mutual benefits. In addition to these, the trainees or the empowered will have access to our in-house consultants anytime to guide them through.
What specific training programmes does the group have for the youths?
We are running two training programmes now. One is on Petroleum Downstream Technology and the other is on Power Generations Technology. We have identified the potential in these two fields after doing our survey. We will be providing ready-made opportunities for the trainees so that they can be engaged immediately after the training. The benefits include guaranteed self-employment. The training inculcates an entrepreneurial mindset into the trainees to prepare them for the realities at hand; it will boost their resumes, improve effective communication and self-marketing. We can help the trainees develop a business model. And for the secondary school graduates, it helps them develop an understanding of the different occupations so they could make informed career decisions.
What impact have you been able to make on the Nigerian youth?
We have made significant impact. The NSHG is going about sensitising our youths that the Federal Government cannot do everything for them and the less we rely on the government, the better for Nigerians. We have been able to talk to over 700,000 youths at our free sensitisation seminars and webinars. Nigerians have God-given potentials, but most of us are not ready to unlock them. So, we help them to self-discover and explore it to help not just themselves, but the community they represent and the country at large. I usually say that if the Federal Government refuses to give us white collar jobs, we can buy bleach to turn our brown collars into white ourselves by looking inward and coming up with something that can put food on our tables and empower others too. We have started a free business training, tagged “How to survive in business from the beginning to the end in this era of change,” for religious groups. We are doing “Operation catch them young” for students in secondary schools and it has been awesome. We have also identified opportunities and provided sustainable jobs for many with our different programmes.
Meanwhile, there are some top Nigerian consultants who are not helping matters. Imagine a consultant who expects a startup that started a business with just N100,000 to pay a N1m consultancy fee. We all know that for a business to survive, you must have a guide. It is not like this in the developed countries. I have been guided by some top foreign consultants for almost free. That is why the Nigeria Self Help Group was able to come with the first Micro Idea Bank idea in Nigeria in which so many sustainable business ideas have been given out to youths who naturally did not even know what to do. Also, the NSHG has engaged some top consultants in our business clinic for free or for a token as a way for them to give back to the society that made them.
How do you track your impact on the youths?
We track the impact of the NSHG on the youths after the empowerment training by putting in place a system to gather immediate evaluation information from the participants. This is to assess if new skills have been learned. A 30 to 60-day follow-up assessment is in place in order to track their actions taken and there is a one-year follow-up evaluation to ensure that they survive in the trade learnt.
Has this group been able to achieve results that have helped the Nigerian economy?
So far, the NSHG has achieved a lot, especially with the Micro Idea Bank, RMCL Business Clinic, Marketing Square, Revosyndicate, Corporate Apprenticeship, Guerrilla Marketing Schemes and Revotech Academy. These are all our trade secrets. The Revotech Academy is a specialised secondary school that will tackle a problem from the foundational age grade. Our Guerrilla Marketing Scheme is helping thousands of youths out there now. I remember when President Barack Obama said he created millions of jobs; we did a research and discovered it is in Guerrilla Marketing that you can get products sold for a producer and earn your income. Recently, we trained some members and at the same time discussed with an estate developer so that our marketers can be selling for him. He gave us an estate of 500 units of duplexes at N70m per unit. The Memorandum of Understanding states that the prospective buyer will pay 10 per cent and the seller pays five per cent of the principal amount to the marketer. In the very first week of the deal, one of the trained marketers brought a buyer and a total of N10.5m was paid to him. Ask yourself this question, how many bank managers earn that annually? We are still doing all we can to achieve laudable feats.
Do you collaborate with the government?
Not yet; we are still looking forward to it. Nigeria, before this administration, was all about politics; you needed to know a top political associate of the President before your voice could be heard. I don’t think this present administration is like that, even though this government needs more programmes like this to reduce the burden on them. The NSHG will still need the support of the government at all levels because we plan to establish at least one RMCL Micro Idea Bank, the Business Clinic, Marketing Square and most importantly, the Revotech Academy, which is our “Catch them young from secondary school programme” in all senatorial districts.
What advice do you have for the youth and Nigerians in general?
My advice is for everyone to know that we cannot redirect the wind blowing in the country right now, but we can only adjust our sail to match the wind. If everyone can sweep the frontage of their house, the whole country will be clean; so let us stop putting everything on the government. People keep complaining of unemployment even when some do not have the prerequisite certificate to make them gainfully employed. Just because others are shouting, they join them too. Another advice is for all of us to look beyond our certificates and see what we can do with our hands to become better skilled.