Undoubtedly, Nigeria is witnessing a higher interest in entrepreneurship, with many more people opening business of different sizes. The Next Titan Nigeria which is on its 6th Season has promoted entrepreneurship, with some of its former contestants Catherine Agbo, in this interview, elucidates on the gains of the show and why it should be supported. Excerpts:
Entrepreneurship has become very attractive lately, why is this so?
There are many reason why many people are turning to entrepreneurship lately, I’ll talk about a few. An entrepreneur basically is someone who sees opportunity in a problem and takes the risky step of providing a solution that addresses that problem, while also making profit from it. So people go into entrepreneurship because they are passionate about making a difference in a particular area, others become entrepreneurs because there was nothing else to do, that is lack of jobs and attendant rise in poverty, while others start because they have money to throw at a perceived problem.But whatever the reason (s), entrepreneurs are important to economic development. Developed societies pay a lot of attention to this sector because it is the bedrock of economic development.
Would you say the operating environment for entrepreneurs in Nigeria is conducive enough to engender growth?
Sadly, the answer is no. The operating environment is stifling. The government has at different times come up with programmes to support entrepreneurs but these programmes are usually far apart, not sustainable and change as often as government changes. There are also no infrastructure to support small businesses as businesses owners practically have to provide their own water, security, access roads to their businesses or contend with the bad roads and are constantly bugged by multiple tax agencies from the federal, state and local governments, demanding one form of payment or the other. Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit, access to startup capital is also another challenge and quite interestingly too, knowledge gap is also a challenge as there are those who have the money but do not have the requisite knowledge and experience to successfully drive the businesses.
What can be done to support small businesses?
One way to support small businesses is through access to funding opportunities such as grants and loans, and that is what shows like The Next Titan Nigeria Reality TV promote.
Tell us about The Next Titan Nigeria.
The Next Titan is Nigeria’s foremost reality TV show which focuses on harnessing the entrepreneurial ideas of young Nigerians and providing them seed funds to turn their ideas to businesses and grow existing businesses. The theme for this year is “Impossible is Possible.” Contestants for the show are picked after regional auditions where they get to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. Those who meet the selection criteria move to the next stage which is the boot camp. This year, over 50 contestants made it to the boot camp at the end of which 16 finalists were selected and unveiled at a ceremony in Lagos, to compete for the grand prize of N7 million and a brand new Ford car. The contestants live together for 10 weeks and battle for the prize. Over the 10 week period, the contestants are expected to among others, prove to be real street smarts, and also prove their entrepreneurial acumen through various business challenges over the 10-week period. The show which is in its sixth season, gives an opportunity to young talented Nigerians who have great and innovative business ideas to compete against one another in real-life entrepreneurial challenges in a bid to win the ultimate price to enable them start their new businesses or to support existing businesses.
The Next Titan Nigeria is in its 6th Season but it doesn’t seem to have gained much traction, unlike other reality TV shows. What could be responsible for this?
It is rather unfortunate that there is a high level of aversion towards intellectual programmes in Nigeria. People want to be entrepreneurs, they want to be successful and make money but they find business shows uninteresting. In Nigeria, the youth in particular are so uninterested, unlike in other countries where entrepreneurship and business reality TV shows enjoy a lot of attention and popularity and citizens of such countries, particularly the youth, leverage on such shows to develop their mindsets, which has been identified as one of the reasons for the advancement of the youth of those countries in entrepreneurship, creativity and technology. You may have noticed that globally successful educative entrepreneurial shows such as Dragons Den and The Apprentice did not survive when they were brought to Nigeria as they failed to attract the same level of attention they get in other countries. People need to understand that The Next Titan is a mix of education, entertainment and information. The programme was borne out of the need to support entrepreneurs so that they can contribute positively to the economic development of the country, particularly through job creation and over the past 6 years, the show has succeeded in doing this with the past 5 winners of the show who are running successful businesses and contributing to economic development in their various fields of endeavour. You also would have noticed that shows such as The Next Titan struggle to get sponsorship but this shouldn’t be the case. Entrepreneurs are job creators, and for every entrepreneur that is supported to grow, there is one person less in the job market who goes on to provide jobs for others. Entrepreneurship plays a critical role in the economic growth and standard of living of the country and should be encouraged.
What can be done to change the situation?
First, the young people of Nigeria need to show interest and own this show, it is for them. Also, government and corporate organisations need to identify with it through sponsorship. It is the only show of its kind in the country and has survived this long with high integrity ratings, considering the caliber of people who serve as the board. Support for The Next Titan Nigeria is support for the development of the economy’s GDP which entrepreneurs are huge contributors to.