by Isi Esene
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) will, from December 10 through 12, 2012, host the first edition of its annual TENT Gathering where 500 students with keen interest in ICT solutions will discuss how they can maximize the four or five years they spend on tertiary education to build ICT businesses or business ideas.
“We want Nigerian students to graduate with business plans, ideas or actual businesses, instead of just CVs,” said ‘Gbenga Sesan, executive Ddrector of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria. “That is why we started the Techie. Entrepreneurial. Nigerian. Talented (TENT) initiative and we are glad to have Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, as our first university partner on the segment of the initiative that will focus on universities.
“The vision of TENT is to help jump-start the culture of innovation and enterprise in the mould of global technology companies which all started as ideas that were developed into products right from the university halls of their young founders.”
With official figures from the Nigerian government on unemployment at 24.9% and a minister revealing that only 10% of graduates get decent jobs two years after graduation, PIN believes the TENT initiative will provide the opportunity to reverse the trend of producing job seekers, and moving towards grooming competent ready hands and employers of labour.
According to PIN’s COO, Tope Ogundipe, “TENT is a platform that will showcase, connect, add value and inspire. The platform fills an existing gap and will also provide a place where budding Nigerian ‘technopreneurs’ can showcase their work, connect with resources, add value to market and inspire innovation, while building a sustainable business that they will run after graduation.
TENT’s workshops and annual event will also search for unconnected tech enthusiasts who have the potential of building on globally accessible technology products or leading a new product development cycle for local companies.”
PIN commenced hosting TENT Workshops across Nigeria in 2011 and signed an MoU with Obafemi Awolowo University in April 2012. PIN’s 5-year intervention program at Obafemi Awolowo University will begin from the Computer Science/Engineering department where Year 1 students have been introduced to the concept of tech entrepreneurship. TENT will challenge participating students to start out with an idea they would love to implement as a full-time business by the time they graduate, connect them with mentors (within and outside the campus environment), support qualifying participants with industry-specific Student Industrial Work experience Scheme (SIWES) placements and support them to complete their Final Year Project based on the idea they started developing in Year 1.
For the TENT Gathering holding from December 10 – 12, 2012, at the Obafemi Awolowo University, facilitators who will share experiences with students include leading Nigerian technology experts, entrepreneurs and industry leaders. They will be joined by technology hubs whose managers will host Innovation Clinics to expose students to best practice examples – of both success and failure – so they can ask practical questions about their on-going projects and get help from the hub managers.
The first day of TENT Gathering will focus on general presentations about technology opportunities while the second day will focus on the dual theme of Techie and Entrepreneurial while the final day will focus on Nigerian and Talented.
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that connects under-served Nigerian youth with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) opportunities; with specific concern about the ill effects of unemployment and cybercrime, among other vices that limit the potential contribution of young Nigerians to the nation’s economy.
Having worked with government, civil society, private institutions and international organizations including the United Nations, PIN has worked in ICT education, telecenter support, ICT applications in rural areas, etc. PIN’s projects include Ajegunle.org, a capacity development initiative that connects the community’s youth with training, internship and mentorship opportunities; MISSPIN, the social campaign that is tackling cybercrime issues in Nigeria; and TENT.