‘Success in entrepreneurship may be impossible without the right mindset’

Afolabi Olayinka, chief executive officer (CEO) of International Youth Empowerment Summit (IYES), in this interview with VICTORIA NNAKAIKE in Lokoja, Kogi State, emphasised the need to encourage youths and adults alike to embrace a positive attitude for growth and to develop entrepreneurship mindset. He also said that his passion is to see youths discover their potentials. He also spoke on other issues. Excerpts: 

Could you briefly tell us what IYES is all about?

IYES represents International Youth Empowerment Summit (IYES), where we bring youths and adults together and we try an atmosphere of positive mindset for growth, for entrepreneurial mindset. We bring in not just facilitators from various walks of life, but those who we can verify the result of their works and creativity. Most of the facilitators are those who are practising and also have result to show. That is the whole idea; we don’t want you to sit idle at home. Even the Commissioner for Agriculture, Kehinde Oloruntoba in spite of his office, he is a farmer. You are sitting on huge, huge capacity of opportunities as you are saying the country is not good. It is that you have not discovered the thing that you have. That is why we have gathered here today that each and every one of us will have something that the market needs that can, through institutional body, people look and see it, people look and get the right information at the right stage. Then, they can be exposed, they can be impactful; that is the core purpose of IYES.

You have been in this programme for three years now; what are your achievements so far?

Oh fantastic; we have motivated people who have gone out to invest; people like Morgan Victor, and   Tobi Emmanuel who have been on this platform and have gone out to create creative platforms, where youths can get means of discovering themselves and be useful to the society. And so many also who started their own ventures either individually are adding value in cooperate organisations.
And then if you look at our platform, you can see a lot of investors coming up, talking about Treasure Bakery, Siglar and so many others.

Every year universities churn out graduates into the labour market; how has the organisation been carrying the youths along to help them find their feet in the labour market?

Like I said, we are not saying everybody will create business. But we are saying even if it is an employee it takes a CEO to run successful organisation. So, we try to build in them the lucrative mindset of the CEO. Let them know that they are not just who they are. Even if you are managing somebody’s business, you need the creativity, also the desire, the energy to do it well. We create a right mindset, a mindset for perseverance, mindset for discipline and mindset for results.
No matter what you do, the point is the result that will differentiate, and that is what we let them know that going out there, do not settle for less, don’t settle for little, don’t settle for mediocrity. Go there, understand business like what Tobi Emmanuel was saying about business modules; it works. This is  what we want them to know. You don’t just join the workforce with the usual mindset. You join because you want to make a change. And you see market is paying for those who are ready to make a change.

If you get to an organisation and you are able to turn the structure around and they are making money, definitely you are going to gain from the wind fall. So, we are not just training employees,  we are not just churning out the youth to continue the mediocrity that we have observed in the system, but we are churning out youths who are going out there, either as employees or employer, purposely to enhance brand while also creating your own.
So most times that we churn out people out, they are those who have passed through International Youth Empowerment Summit (IYES) platform. I got a call yesterday from someone who was on our platform in 2015 and he told me ‘watch in 2019, you are going to invite me as a speaker’.  Those are the kind of mindset we create; people who go out to pursue nothing but excellence.

What have you done to bring the state government into the programme?

Like you see today, we brought Commissioner for Agriculture, Kehinde Oloruntoba. We also reached out to Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja and other people but because of their tight schedule they are not here. But every year, Kogi State government has always been involved in what we do. We always bring them in because they are the policy makers and they run the largest capacity in terms of employment, talking about civil servants and others. So they are paramount in what we do. So, every year we ensure that state government attends.

And this year, we have the honour of inviting Hon. Kehinde Oloruntoba as one of our guests. We also heard him speak about government policy on Agriculture and how the youth can take advantage of it in terms of solving employment problems rather than staying at home, as farming is the money-doubler.

In terms of support, we believe they can do more. We are also using the platform to invite organisations. Look at what we are doing, look at the result, look at the policy we have today. These are the things government should also give in. I know there are platforms that will be given support but will not deliver. Ours have over the years delivered. That is why we want to get more support from them. We will like to work with them in policy, making strategic development and how to enhance the livelihood of youths and also how to get result on them. So, we believe that we have been able to move forward.

You have been carrying this alone; where did you draw your inspiration from and how do you cope with the resources?

Like I said, my desire has always been that youths should be creative and not idle. We are having leadership tussle in the country and I believe one of the ways to stop them is to encourage the youth to build their own empire and manage it well. Aliko Dangote, I believe, has been able to perform his leadership in the area of business; that is why he is successful in his business empire.

My passion is to see youths churn out well with quality as leaders and as entrepreneurs.  And honestly, I will give everything to ensure that it happens.  That is my own contribution to our nation, Nigeria. You can’t just talk and then nothing happens.  This is about taking actions, ensuring that we are passing information across. That is what we will continue to do until we get the better Nigeria we all yarn for.

What advice do you have for the resource persons and participants?

The resource persons, the only yardstick for them to come and share with us is if the result is the opportunity to churn out quality. And to the participants, everything they have heard today, like I said we have the problem on situational syndrome or mental syndrome. So we know that there is a problem and that is why we ask them to sign up with our mentoring programme. So that we can continue our discipline and to ensure that the participants don’t just go out the week and forget what they have learnt but put them to use and measure their results.

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