Youth Empowerment and Economic Sustainability

Empowerment is the process by which people gain the ability and authority to make informed decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people. It is a means through which people try to do better for themselves, and also make great impact in their society. This is done by taking action to improve access to resources and transforming consciousness, beliefs, values and attitudes.  

As youths, intentional efforts towards continuously bringing your dreams to reality are very essentialInvestopedia defines that sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Economic sustainability, on the one hand, according to the University of Mary Washington, refers to practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, and cultural aspects of the community. It refers to the continued success of an economy over time or more recently to the way an economy operates in a sustainable manner, protecting social and environmental elements. 

Data from this article shows that each year, about 1.8 million young Nigerians enter the labour market. Meanwhile, unemployment in Nigeria is estimated at 22 percent, while youth unemployment is significantly higher at 38%, according to the World Bank. In addition to the detrimental effects of a nation’s economy, unemployment and poverty are the primary causes of abuse, violence and kidnapping in Nigeria according to this NOI survey, 2017. 

What has this got to do with me? 

Youths are the change makers in every nation, and in Nigeria, there has been a spike in the number of youths interested in learning skills either for professional or personal reasons. Youth empowerment is, therefore, important in the following ways: 

  • It goes a long way in curbing the rate of poverty in any nationThis can be achieved through skill development. When youths are well-equipped with essential skills, they are able to utilize these acquired skills to fend for themselves and others by either being gainfully employed or engaging in entrepreneurship, which results in living a life of dignity, and provides for futuristic investments, aiding the nation to thrive economically.  
  • To build a better today and a tomorrow we can look forward to, we need to nurture the youths of today. Good governance cannot thrive devoid of empowerment of youths, who are the backbone of any nation and the leaders we have. 
  • Empowerment ensures that the youths acquire new skills and develop already existing skills to sustain a decent means of livelihood, shielding them from the influence of negative vices due to idleness or inability to secure a stable source of livelihood. This curbs the rate of crime in any society. 
  • A youth empowered society will witness a very low record of unemployment amongst vibrant youths. This results in the creation of wealth among the growing youth population. In fact, empowerment creates a vast job market, as it provides an avenue for refinement of potentials within the youths. A skillful youth is a job creator. 
  • The average Nigerian youth needs entrepreneurial skills to survive in Nigeria, as a professional and a business person. It provides practical knowledge which most youths would otherwise not have access to in a formal educational setting. 
  • It helps in integrating the youth into the Economic Diversification policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria. 
  • It contributes to GDP growth through the development of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs). 

Some Youth Empowerment-focused Organizations and Programs in Nigeria. 

These programs are carried out by non-profit organizations, government organizations, schools or private organizations. 

  • Citizens Platform and Emerging Citizens are projects by Aspilos Foundation, focused on changing the face of governance in Nigeria by advancing citizen engagement and participation. 
  • AboCoders is focused on empowering young women with digital skills by training them on web development, graphic design, hardware engineering, and data science.  
  • The Next Economy (TNE) empowers youth in Nigeria, Mali, Somaliland, Somalia to unleash their talents, build their confidence and hone the skills they need for a successful career in a job or as an entrepreneur. 
  • ONE Campaign is a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, so that everyone, everywhere can lead a life of dignity and opportunity. 
  • Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. 
  • YEDI (Youth Empowerment Development Initiative) is a non-profit organisation focused on adolescent health development. 
  • Youth Empowerment Nigeria (YEN) is a non-profit project established to address the gaps of diversity, empower youths in numerous areas of life, capacity building, youth involvement in service projects, civic engagement, philanthropy and decision-making of their communities. 
  • NPower is an initiative of the Nigerian Federal Government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, it was created as a means to reduce unemployment of youths in Nigeria.  
  • Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs Empowerment Nigeria (AYEEN) is a mission to empower young entrepreneurs in Africa.  
  • LEAP Africa is a youth-focused leadership development nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire, empower and equip a new cadre of leaders with skills and tools for personal, organization and community transformation.  
  • Youth Enterprise With Innovation In Nigeria (YOUWIN) in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication Technology as well as the Ministry of Youth and Social Development (MYSD) acts to encourage entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria by helping them develop their business, also providing them with necessary skills to create more and better jobs in a means to reduce the unemployment rate of youths in the nation. 
  • Youth Entrepreneur Support Program (YESP) is part of the Bank of Industry (BIO)’s means to address one of the main social problem of the Nigeria economy – Mass unemployment of youths – by promoting funding their business ideas from youths and helping them develop their capability and capacity. The initiative focuses mainly on equipping youths with the skills and knowledge to be self-employed and entrepreneurial. 
  • National Youth Service Corps (NYSC): is a scheme set up by the Nigerian government to involve Nigerian graduates in nation building and the development of the country. 
  • Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) is working towards creating an opportunity for 5000 youth graduates to become interns in private/public sector organization in other to promote building of the manpower requirement as well as so as to drive the Nation’s Transformation Agenda. 
  • Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria (YISA) aims to motivate young adults to get involved in the agricultural sector and make good use of the profitable market it has. 
  • The “Vision 2020: Youth Empowerment and Restoration Initiative” is a youth and national development initiative of Lonadek Nigeria Limited, to empower youths and prepare them for a fulfilling and rewarding career ahead. To add value to the Nigerian economy through the “catch-them-young” strategy of reaching out to the grassroots for promising students who can drive Nigeria into a position of dominance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by year 2020 and beyond. 
  • The Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES) is structured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative driven by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Students Affairs (OSAPYSA). The program is targeted at providing solutions to the challenges of youth unemployment, through the execution of direct empowerment initiatives. 
  • Diamond Crest for Youth Education Foundation aims to enhance and offer quality education for youths and learners in the nation. 

Youth empowerment is often addressed as a gateway to intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. It is focused on creating greater community change that enables participation, leadership development, creation of a network of support to mobilize the community to address challenges, and creates opportunities to learn, practice, and increase skills. Youth empowerment is pursued by promoting youth rights, youth activism and standing for right. It is the most effective means of making a better future for the country.  

Every youth must make an intentional effort and see it as a duty to personally develop themselves continuously, because at the end of the day the best thing you can bring to any environment is the best version of YOU.

This article was written by Zigwai Tagwai

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