By Daniel Hunter

Nigeria has the potential to be Africa’s entrepreneurial superpower. That is the message from serial entrepreneur and founder of School for Startups Doug Richard, who has joined a project to engage with 1,200 of the country’s ambitious young entrepreneurs in a drive to create 50,000 new jobs.

School for Startups is helping to boost efforts to supercharge the Nigerian economy and will provide the vital skills that the young businesses on the programme need to take root and flourish.

School for Startups was invited to the country by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), to be part of The Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN!) scheme. It will be delivering tuition through an intensive course of ‘boot camps’ and e-learning support.

The School for Startups boot camps will play an important role in encouraging and supporting aspiring young entrepreneurs in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas. School for Startups’ overarching mission to orchestrate economic growth ties in directly with YouWIN! who are aiming to generate 50,000 new jobs for currently unemployed young Nigerians over the next three years.

Participants in the School for Startups boot camps range from start-ups to pre-existing enterprises that are looking to expand. They have been selected through YouWIN!’s nationwide Business Plan Competition. Submissions were assessed using a standardised set of criteria including:

•Innovativeness and uniqueness

•Projected growth and rate of return

•Potential for sustainable job creation

•Feasibility and practicability given local contexts

The boot camps will take place across six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, with confirmed locations including Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Calabar.

School for Startups’ involvement in the YouWIN! Programme demonstrates the growing international reach of the organisation. In 2011, at the request of the Post-Privatization Foundation (PPF), Doug brought the programme to Romania and has since given training to over 300 Romanian entrepreneurs.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, the Federal Government of Nigeria said:

"We are delighted to partner with Doug Richard and the School for Startups on these bootcamps for entrepreneurs. I am confident that the bootcamps will add real value to the programme as we round up the first cycle and prepare for the next one.

"The response to YouWIN! within and outside the country has been tremendous and the bootcamps will certainly help the government to deliver on the ultimate objective of creating thousands of jobs for Nigerian youths."

Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups, said:

"It is a great privilege to have been invited to take School for Startups to Nigeria. The prospect of giving a shot in the arm to Nigeria’s economy is an incredibly exciting one, giving young entrepreneurs the skills and confidence they need to succeed.

"The challenges facing entrepreneurship are the same the world over. What is needed everywhere — and Nigeria is no exception — is a culture in which entrepreneurship can take root. Young businesses hold the key to the nation’s economic future and this programme will play a crucial role in helping them grow."

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