APLUS Trainers, a training and business consulting firm with a mission to support entrepreneurship development and small businesses in Nigeria is organising its annual Social Entrepreneurship workshop. The theme this year is ‘The Social Enterprise – Impact, Innovation and Sustainability’. This is scheduled for March 15-17, 2016.
According to Mrs Titi Ojo, Executive Director, APLUS Trainers, “Social entrepreneurship is the solution to solving social and economic problems, a critical need for Nigeria at this time.” She further added “Social Entrepreneurs use innovative ways to fill the gaps in existing services that cannot be delivered by the public and private sectors. The need to develop the capacity of potential and existing social entrepreneurs cannot be overemphasized, hence the need for this conference.”
According to Mr Mene Blessing, an international award winning social entrepreneur andspeaker at the conference, “Social entrepreneurs are solving problems globally and innovation is what makes the difference. The need to encourage young people especially to think outside the box and create enterprises that solve society’s most pressing needs is absolutely important. We need social innovators in all sectors; agriculture, technology, finance, health, education among others”
The efforts being put into entrepreneurship development in Nigeria is commendable but a lot is still desired. The social enterprise impacts society on a scale far above that of a business that is all out for profit alone. Therefore the need to support ideas and innovation that come from social entrepreneurs, creating an enabling environment for them to thrive and fostering collaboration and continuous dialogue is essential.
Mr Doyin Adewola, the CEO of Box Office Incubator in Abuja and a speaker at the event commended the efforts of the organisers. “The social entrepreneur is a creative visionary and what matters to him is solving a pressing problem that he believes will impact community”, he added “the Box Office was born out of the need to solve the pending problem of access to decent workspace for businesses in Abuja and today the vision is a reality and a point of reference”
The target audience are young people with ideas for social innovation, business startups, already existing businesses, executives running social businesses or NGOs who are seeking to reshape or grow their organisations, corporate organisations/public institutions that have interest in CSR projects and need ideas, individuals who wish to explore a new career in social entrepreneurship, policy makers in every sector of the economy, government or philanthropic organisations that might be looking to invest in or buy from Social Enterprise.
“I am excited at this opportunity to speak at the APLUS social entrepreneurship conference”, stated Mrs Josephine Nzerem, the Regional Director, Ashoka West Africa Anglophone. “I commend APLUS Trainers for putting together a programme like this at a time when Social Entrepreneurship is being globally promoted and gaining buy-in for socioeconomic development”. She encouraged the education sector to take advantage of this event. “The need to include social entrepreneurship in the curriculum is critical to national development. The Ministry of education, the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC) and Entrepreneurship development arms of all universities should participate in these three days conference”, she said.
Dr Victor Fodeke, an Ashoka fellow in the area of environment and sustainable community development reiterated the need to start aligning our thoughts with the Sustainable Development Goals. “Using the 17 goals as a guide, we will be raising social entrepreneurs that are contributing greatly to the needs of society”, he said. “This conference presents the platform to plug into green and sustainable business ideas emanating from these goals”
Cynthia Anaele, a leading digital media consultant and speaker at the event in her comments stated the need for the social enterprise to leverage on digital media platforms. In her words “When you are doing so much and no one knows about it, it is like winking in the dark”. “The opportunity to learn from digital experts on story-telling and social media marketing is an opportunity one should not miss at this conference”
A highlight of the event is the Social Innovators pitch, a session where social innovation ideas are presented before a panel of judges and the audience. The top 3 entries will receive 3 months to 1 year of incubation and mentorship support. Interested participants, especially young people are encouraged to apply online.