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The Conversations: Inspiring Stories of Resilient Entrepreneurs

The year was 2008, I was working as the business development manager for a real estate firm in Port Harcourt. That was the height of societal unrest and militancy in the Niger Delta region for those that remember. I was very concerned about the growing number of youths (some of them graduates) who because of the growing unemployment and perceived grievances against the government had become part of the struggle. Some even supported negative vices such as the “bursting of pipelines” and kidnapping of “expatriate workers” as a way to call attention to the neglect of the Niger delta.

In discussing with my boss; we all felt something had to be done to stem the tide and one way we could do this was to make a lot of our youths begin to see opportunities available through entrepreneurship apart from oil and gas. I developed programs like the Youth Entrepreneurship Seminars (YES) and Business Empowerment Seminars and Trainings (BEST) all with a mission to inspire young people into entrepreneurship and support micro-enterprises which we implemented as corporate social responsibility for my company. Our little seed began to blossom and we now had a bigger challenge; some of the youths we had inspired and motivated to start out in business; had now started and needed more support in the areas of accounting/basic bookkeeping, human resource management, customer service, marketing/sales and strategies to grow their business and THIS was the birth of VTB Business Support Services (which was registered as a business name in 2009).

Over the years we have grown like that mustard seed into a management consulting firm and now VTB Consulting with services ranging from business development/advisory, recruitment/outsourcing solutions, and corporate training/human capacity development but we have never forgotten our humble beginnings. Our passion for entrepreneurship development in these regions has been tried and tested but we have remained resolute in our pursuit of supporting the birth and growth of great companies within our region. Our joy has been the many success stories over the years that have been nurtured from idea conception to startups and businesses now employing much cutting across various sectors.

We now have clients from major companies and multinationals but have always found a way to contribute our quota towards SME development in the region and indeed Nigeria. In 2013 we came up with the ‘Entrepreneurial Forum” where we were able to get over 500 entrepreneurs to listen to great speakers and thought leaders such as Fela Durutoye, Seinye Lulu-Briggs, and Emeka Unachukwu (then President of PHACCIMA) . We moved on from there to hold the same event for students of UNIPORT in 2014 in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Centre of the school with speakers such as Tara Fela-Durutoye, Asawo Ibifuro, Paul Foh and Mr Ken Etete (Century Energy) . I will never forget the Keynote Address by the Vice-Chancellor then; Prof Joseph Ajienka to a packed full Ebitimi Banigo Hall on the need to inculcate entrepreneurship development in our University education/curricula.

In 2015 it was almost like a homecoming of some sort as my alma mater RSUST played host to the “Entrepreneurial Forum” at the Amphi Theatre with a focus on Tech Entrepreneurship. We had speakers like Tara Fela-Durutoye, Mr. Toyin Alabi (The Promise) and Mr. Peter Jack (then DG, NITDA) other specialized sessions were anchored by Mr. Kabelo Majekwene (then Country General Manager Microsoft Nigeria); Mr. Charles Ojei (then Director Samsung Electronics, West Africa); Mr Olubunmi Ekundare (then Country Manager, Intel Nigeria). The erudite Vice-Chancellor; Prof B.B Fakae gave the keynote address and Mr Asawo Ibifuro (CINFORES) gave the opening remarks sharing their entrepreneurial story; both events in UNIPORT and RSUST was wonderfully moderated by the quintessential Joyce Daniels.

In all of these events, we did not charge participants a dime but leveraged our relationship with our clients to get support and sponsorship for the programs. Special thanks to Airtel Nigeria, CINFORES, Microsoft, Intels, Samsung, NITDA, Hotel Presidential for supporting this laudable vision. We have over the years developed numerous business plans and feasibility studies for clients from far and near ( we have clients now in Lagos, Abuja and also in Diaspora who wants to invest in critical sectors in Nigeria). We have worked with various government parastatals, oil and gas multinationals, and partnered with other consulting firms/NGOs to support various initiatives like the YouWin program, GWEPS, Shell Live Wire, and RIVJOBS project to mention a few.

Every year we try to do something unique to help aspiring entrepreneurs and only recently we started the dream business academy with training content on entrepreneurship and business management for aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs; you can download some of the training modules online at
www.vtbconsulting.com.ng/academy.

This year we decided to put together “The Conversations: Inspiring Stories of Resilient Entrepreneurs” a virtual meeting via zoom where we have invited some of the best of Port Harcourt and indeed Nigeria’s finest entrepreneurs to share on their entrepreneurial journey. We have speakers cutting across Real Estate, ICT, Fashion, Professional Services, and Foods/Drinks with relatable stories that will inspire, enlighten and motivate you to believe that if they can do it; then you can also.
If you are out of job and thinking of what to do next to survive or maybe you are working but looking for another side hustle to complement your source of income then trust me; this is your program. Young entrepreneurs who are also looking for practical ways to thrive during this period are in for a great time as I will be sharing nuggets that will be helpful to you also in this new normal. Attendance is FREE but you have to register to get in; kindly clique on the link http://rebrand.ly/theconversations and be sure to save the date (13th to 17th July 2020) and time (2pm) on your calendar to be part of this life-changing event!



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