The Bank of Industry on Thursday inaugurated a BOI-UNILAG Incubation and Co-Working Hub at the University of Lagos.
The facility was brought about through the collaboration between the Management of UNILAG and BOI to run an entrepreneurship capacity development programme in the institution.
Speaking at the event, Olukayode Pitan, MD/CEO of BOI, said the programme would afford every student of the university an opportunity to be exposed to practical entrepreneurship and technology start up skills from mentors and coaches.
According to him, this will enable them to launch their ventures before they graduate.
Pitan said: “The BOI is happy to support this programme because it aligns with our mission to transform Nigeria’s industrial sector, by providing financial and business support services, so that new businesses will emerge and existing enterprises will thrive.
“The bank is sponsoring the hub in recognition of the incredibly talented students within the university and the need to channel these to more productive and impactful ends, rather than social vices like internet fraud.
“The overall objective is to ensure that the bank’s corporate social responsibility investments, generate better benefits for the country.
“We believe a hub like this gives young people the opportunity to create legitimate wealth, while adding their own quota to the economic development of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.”
Pitan added that creative spaces like the hub are filling a crucial gap in the technology and startup industry.
According to him, hackathons and other competitions to identify technology solutions for social and business problems, are born and developed in such places.
The BOI MD said the bank unveiled two tech hubs in 2019 in Lagos and Bayelsa States.
He said: “Two additional hubs have also been completed in Kaduna and Kebbi.
“The bank is committed to developing similar programmes in many other institutions of learning and states across the country.
“The bank will also provide funding to support credible and bankable ideas that emerge from the technology hubs, to enable them start operations and scale into viable businesses.
“At the Bank of Industry, we believe that with the collective will of our young people’s positive passion, the right government policies, mentorship, and private capital, this can become a reality in a short period.”
Pitan urged students to make the most of the opportunities available, adding that they should allow the amazing hub inspire their dreams of a limitless horizon.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, described the hub as unique, adding that no university in the country could boast of it.
Ogundipe noted that the key vision of the institution was to make it a one stop hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.
He said: “Today, we have a testimony that the fund given to this institution for this purpose has come to a reality.
“Our projection is that every year, we want to have at least 500 company registered, but for the effect of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are looking forward to also having an Art and Craft Centre.
“It is management’s resolve that we equip all our students with one skill or the other in addition to their degrees.”
Ogundipe reiterated the need to assist the about 2,000 identified indigent students of the university with laptops in a bid to carry them along on the e-learning platform.
He said: “The new normal now is virtual learning and I make bold to say that we have done excellently well in that space.
“This is in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.
“Currently, we now have our lecturers online, with about 14,000 students connecting daily on the platform.
“Do not forget that our Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination was equally done virtually and successfully too.”
Ogundipe noted that academic activities would soon resume fully and that virtual learning had come to stay.
According to him, the institution has a student population of almost 60,000 at both the undergraduate and post graduate levels, hence the need for support in the provision of learning aids, such as laptops, for most of them who could not afford it.
Dr. Sunday Adebisi, the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Skills Development, said the co-hub would equip students to be self sufficient.
According to Adebisi, with Nigeria having 33.3 per cent youth unemployment and the youths being 60 per cent of the 120 million population, unemployment is high, hence the need for them to be creative and technologically driven.
He said: “So, all we need to do is to get them engaged from the university system and let them create their jobs.
“What we have done is that there is an ability for the student to walk into this place, who was clueless before and in two weeks, is coming out with what he can do to solve some of the problems of the society.”