It has been a year since three members of our team, accompanied by master students from the Netherlands, travelled to Lagos, Nigeria. Nigerian and Dutch students together were encouraged to submerge themselves in a local challenge and participated in a 10-day programme facilitated by Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship in collaboration with local organisations. One of the students from Nigeria that participated was Erioluwa Adeyinka. We spoke with him to find out how the programme supported him in enlarging his passion for entrepreneurship.
In June 2019, the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, together with Dutch Centers for Entrepreneurship, organized the #CoCreateMyCity Lagos challenge. This initiative aimed to support the enabling environment for entrepreneurs & support active citizenship. Take a look at this video for more information on the project..
Commissioned by the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO), #CoCreateMyCity intended to increase awareness about Dutch policy and expertise in the field of entrepreneurship, and provide a sneak preview for the opening of Orange Corners Nigeria, an initiative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands linked to the Dutch Embassy. Also for Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship this programme is about contributing to local impact. Head of Education Annique de Greef says: “With this programme we hoped to plant a seed and inspire the participating students to stay entrepreneurial, build relationships, seeing opportunities in challenges and to take them on with confidence.”
Participant Erioluwa Adeyinka We are happy to see that #CoCreateMyCity inspired Erioluwa Adeyinka, one of the participants, to become involved in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. The 19-year old Chemistry and Education student at the University of Lagos, was one of the participants in the programme. “A friend of mine had heard about the programme and thought it represented the perfect opportunity for me to showcase my talents and expand my knowledge,” said Erioluwa. At first, it seemed like he might have been too late with registering for the programme but, as a stroke of luck, a spot opened up for him and Erioluwa was able to participate in the programme.
The challenge: traffic jams in Lagos “The challenge entailed that we should specify a problem within the city of Lagos and present a fitting solution. From my point of view, Lagos deals with a significant traffic-jam-related problem whose negative consequences affect various segments of society,” said Erioluwa. Due to an abundance of vehicles on the road, a student must calculate an average of two hours of traveling in order to arrive to their destination on time. “Not only students, but practically everybody in the city of Lagos is dealing with sleep-deprivation and various other stress-inducing problems due to having to travel for such a grand amount of time per day. Therefore, I proposed to my team, among other things, to introduce big busses that could transport more people at the same time. It would be both cost- and energy-effective. The jury of the #CoCreateMyCity Lagos Challenge had some remarks to our solution but coincidentally, the city of Lagos has recently implemented the use of big busses to reduce the amount of cars on the roads and the positive effects are immediately observed. I’m glad I was able to identify a significant problem within Lagos while simultaneously inventing a solution,” said Erioluwa.
Far-reaching exchanges During #CoCreateMyCity, students from Nigeria and the Netherlands were introduced to each other for the first time and the exchanges between them were not only limited to the topic of entrepreneurship. “I have had the pleasure of witnessing an interesting development within the Dutch students. They arrived with the expectation of a developed world but since that is not the case, they had to adapt rapidly and I found it enjoyable to be able to help them through that process,” said Erioluwa. Besides the inter-cultural exchange that resulted from the programme, Erioluwa also enjoyed the abundance of practical knowledge. “With the introduction of the Business Model Canvas, I am now equipped with problem-solving skills that I did not possess before the programme. Furthermore, I would like to specially thank Annique for creating a psychologically safe space. Even until this day, I benefit from acknowledging and embracing my qualities because she pointed out the importance of having the freedom to express your thoughts and ideas.”
“I am now equipped with problem-solving skills that I did not possess before the programme”
How the programme ignited a passion The aim of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship was to plant a seed and inspire students to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and it is great that this succeeded in the case of Erioluwa. Since #CoCreateMyCity Lagos, he managed to teach over 2000 young people in Africa on different topics regarding entrepreneurship. “After completing #CoCreateMyCity Lagos, in which I had received tremendous amounts of help and love, I decided to submerge myself into the world of business. After my trip to the University of Utrecht to follow the course “Managing Business Abroad”, I made a vow to give back to society in the same way Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship did,” said Erioluwa. He started locally with filling in an advisory role for befriended entrepreneurs and subsequently spread his knowledge through online platforms to institutions like Engineering Career Expo, Lagos where he thought students Entrepreneurial skills.
Erioluwa’s ambition: more entrepreneurship education According to Erioluwa, the majority of Africa’s population consists of young people who show a great deal of willingness to enhance their knowledge about entrepreneurship. “I want to scale my impact because I have become extremely passionate about educating entrepreneurship. My goal for the future is to enlarge my capacity and reach more of Africa’s promising youth. Ultimately, I want to provide more regular trainings, manage facilitators and basically provide more education and clarity on this subject matter to as much individuals and institutions as possible. It is an honour for me to continue the work of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, and perhaps in the future we can do a collaboration to further strengthen this process.”