Why education is key to setting up a successful business.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Wise words from Nelson Mandela and a message we can all relate to.

In short, anyone can maximise their potential and make a difference, if they have access to education from the outset.

Education is the fundamental foundation to creating a successful business. Passion, creativity and drive aren’t enough – a successful entrepreneur also needs to learn - or at least access - the core business skills to make their start-up grow.

At the Association of Business Executives (ABE), our clear social purpose is to improve business education for aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. We’re inspired every day by stories from across the world about people who have incredible ideas but lack the basic business skills to take their ideas forward and transform their lives.

This is one of the reasons we’ve partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Read and Earn Federation.

Over the next decade, we’ll be supporting the next generation of young entrepreneurs in Nigeria by giving them access to a world-class online programme, which will develop the core skills they need to set up their own businesses, helping them to diversify and grow the Nigerian economy.

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Nigeria: a country at a crossroads

The fiscal deficit, unemployment trend and uncertainty around petrol prices all combine to create an atmosphere of economic instability in Nigeria. This uncertainty means that the West African nation has seen a significant out-flow of its most promising young talent to Europe, leaving behind a damaging human capital problem.

The IMF predicts that Nigeria could become the ninth largest economy in the world by 2050, if it mobilises its significant 200 million-strong population into a nation of entrepreneurs and consumers. But Nigeria’s population advantage is also its downfall, as it struggles to overcome rising unemployment, poor education and severe poverty. By creating a programme focused on equipping young people with entrepreneurial skills, our project offers a solution to address these difficult conditions.

Nothing like this has been done in Nigeria before. The scale of the project is unprecedented, and it’s such an exciting prospect that we’re inspiring 1.2million Nigerian youths to become entrepreneurs and broaden the country’s horizon.

Building business success

The aim here is, essentially, to give them the building blocks they need to create a tangible business plan, which they can then use to launch their businesses.

They’ll develop core business skills by accessing bespoke content on strategic thinking, understanding and predicting customer behaviour, marketing, branding, product targeting and business planning, with all this material having an emphasis on international trade.

While entrepreneurship is central to the project, we know that leadership also plays an important role in a business. This is why we’ve also partnered with The Institute of Leadership & Management to give participants access to its flagship e-learning tool, MyLeadership, so they can use its interactive learning resources to develop their leadership skills. They’ll be able to enhance their knowledge of the practice of leadership, test themselves online against the Institute’s leadership standards, receive personalised direction and have their leadership learning recognised through certification.

Revolutionising Nigeria’s future

Although the project starts in August, the early signs of the country’s support are promising, as the Nigerian government is already very interested in the project. This gives me even more confidence in the chances of the project’s success, as I hope politicians will continue to be engaged as the programme rolls out over the next 10 years. I hope we can show them that developing public policies and supporting the long-term growth of Nigerian-based businesses are key to making a noticeable and measurable difference to the country’s economy. This additional support could help to further trigger a surge of business start-ups and greater innovation, as entrepreneurs stay in the country and nurture the home-grown skills of their own communities.

Combining a laser-focus on objectives, with world class learning content, digital delivery and ensuring strong partner relations, we’re confident that this 10-year project will produce a new generation of world-class entrepreneurs, helping Nigeria to take its place in the global economy. And it will all be thanks to business education and hard work.

Using education to change your world is one of the most powerful tools available and we’re proud to be able to play our part in helping an entire generation do just that.

Rob May, CEO of the Association of Business Executives (ABE)

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