US envoy urges young African entrepreneurs to learn from Silicon Valley

Stuart Symington, US ambassador to Nigeria, has advised young entrepreneurs in Africa to patronise each other.

He made the call in Ibadan, Oyo state capital, on Tuesday, during a programme organised by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The youth, from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Congo, graduated from diverse fields of agricultural discipline.

“You should buy products from each other,” Symington said.

“You are your own buyers and you should be your own internal buyers. Put together lessons learnt in the process. Each should learn from the mistakes and experiences of the other.”

Symington recommended the Ghanaian model of micro-finance where a village was transformed after villagers financed one another.

The ambassador said entrepreneurs may fail, but they have to pick up themselves.

He said: “You should also learn from the Silicon Valley maxim. In Silicon, they have an expression: ‘If you haven’t failed once, you are not in business.’

“You are like Silicon Valley. You will fall; pick yourselves up. Is there anyone who rides a bicycle for the first time without falling down?”

He added that the challenge of food production is important for Africa, saying every nation must encourage its youth to go into agriculture.

The EYA group, through Evelyn Ohanwusi, the interim head, had made a presentation to the ambassador on how it operates on a philosophy of “to grow crops, you must grow farmers” and how its goal is to reduce economic marginalisation of African youth through modernised agricultural technology.