The Enactus Tai Solarin University of Education on emerging the National Champion of the Enactus Nigeria National Competition 2021.

The Nigerian education and entrepreneurship communities were agog with activities between the 4th and 5th of August, 2021 when the Enactus Nigeria annual national competition – the largest undergraduate entrepreneurship competition in Nigeria – was hosted by Enactus Nigeria as a virtual event.

At the end of the 3 stages of the competition, which happened over a two-day period, the Enactus team from Tai Solarin University of Education emerged victorious and was crowned the national champion of the Enactus Nigeria national competition 2021! Consequently, Tai Solarin University of Education Enactus team earned the right to represent Nigeria at the prestigious Enactus World Cup 2021 which will also hold as a virtual event between 14 – 21 of October, 2021. In like manner, the Enactus team from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria emerged as the first runner up (2nd placed) team, while the Enactus team from Kaduna Polytechnic emerged in 3rd position.

The winning project for Tai Solarin University of Education Enactus Team was its social enterprise – P’ Pal Sanitary Project – wherein the Tai Solarin University of Education Enactus team is applying technology and innovation to solve the problem of lack of access to affordable sanitary pads for adolescent and young women (in Ogun state and beyond) by creating cheap, hygienic and environmentally friendly sanitary pads from banana fibre. According to the Tai Solarin University of Education Enactus team, the social enterprise, although still in its early stage, has already created job opportunities for over 30 women in the community.  

According to the Enactus Nigeria Senior Program Officer, Mr. Raphael Anagbe, the Enactus Nigeria national competition is a dynamic, energetic gathering of student, academic and business leaders where Enactus teams present the impact of their entrepreneurial projects to a panel of business leaders serving as judges. Using the predetermined Enactus Judging Criterion, the select Judges determine the Enactus team that has implemented the most relevant, innovative, sustainable and impactful social enterprise   

The Enactus Nigeria Country Director, Mr. Michael Ajayi, explains that the national competition is an integral part of the Enactus program in Nigeria as it inspires creativity, innovation, and encourages healthy competition amongst its over 1,400 Enactus students spread across over 30 tertiary institutions in 26 states of the federation. Speaking further about the concept of the Enactus program in Nigeria, the Country Director stated that “guided by educators and supported by business leaders, Enactus students/teams conduct needs assessments in their communities, identify potential solutions to complex issues and implement innovative, relevant, community impact projects that address the socio-economic problems identified, whilst also providing opportunities for job and wealth creation. Such interventions, according to Mr Ajayi, provides opportunities for the communities to benefit from collaboration and innovation, while the students gain valuable experience to advance their personal and professional lives as the program also transforms them into selfless, responsible and responsive entrepreneurial leaders.

To emerge as the national champion, Tai Solarin University of Education Enactus team competed with seven (7) other Enactus teams (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Calabar; Kaduna Polytechnic; Federal University, Dutsin-Ma; Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; and Federal Polytechnic, Idah) who satisfied the Enactus Nigeria minimum requirements and qualified to compete in the national competition 2021.   

Themed “enabling social impact for the greater good” this year, the national competition provided the opportunity for teams of university students (Enactus student leaders) to come together and showcase their social impact efforts and compete based on the quality of their entrepreneurial projects that provide an innovative and sustainable impact in their community – on people, planet, and prosperity.

The 2021 Enactus Nigeria national competition also featured the Enactus Nigeria annual Leadership and Innovation Summit – a cross generational discuss that provides the opportunity for knowledge sharing and mentorship. Historically, the Leadership and Innovation Summit has always featured industry and thought leaders who, serving as panelists, inspire and encourage the participating Enactus student leaders (audience) by sharing personal experiences and knowledge on critical issues around leadership, development, entrepreneurship, personal development, national transformation, etc.  However, for the first time since 2011, the 2021 edition of the Leadership and Innovation Summit featured Enactus Nigeria students and alumni, as the panelists and moderators.

According to Michael Ajayi, the spotlight was deliberately focused on the Enactus students and alumni this year, in line with the theme “enabling social impact for the greater good,” to highlight the incredible work Enactus Nigeria is doing to enable increased social impact across the country by developing the skills and competencies of its student leaders, inspiring them to create and sustain social impact in their respective communities by applying innovation and sound entrepreneurial principles in creating social enterprises that address the economic, environmental and social challenges in those communities. He also stated that as these students succeed at helping others, they develop stronger business and leadership skills, as well as a sense of service and responsibility to the community and world around them. Thus, they gain the necessary experience through the process and are eventually transformed into leaders who understand the opportunity for business to make a positive economic, social and environmental impact.

In his words, “it is such a delight to be able to spotlight some of our outstanding students and alumni today, who have been inspired and transformed by the Enactus Nigeria program, and are now successfully applying the learnings from the program to lead efforts and social enterprises that drive positive change such that they are also now gaining both local and international recognition. Congratulations to our distinguished panelists – Oluwatomilola Mustapha (Tai Solarin University of Education Enactus team), Ugochukwu Anthony (Bayero University Enactus team), and Tolulope Theresa Gbenro (Covenant University Enactus team) – and our alumni moderators – Mr. Ebuka Ezeji (Marketing Lead, Veralda) and Mr. Ayodeji Ojo (Senior Program Executive, ACT Foundation).”

Speaking as the keynote address speaker at the Enactus Nigeria Leadership and Innovation Summit 2021, the Founder and CEO of Donors For Africa Foundation, Mrs. Chidi Koldsweat, described social impact as “the entire process of solving problems.” She went on to congratulate Enactus students “for being ‘crazy’ enough not to choose to simply go through school like most other students do, but rather chose to be different, to be disruptors, and to follow the path less travelled – that places an enormous demand on their time, commitment and competence.” Chidi also commended the Enactus students and alumni for the great work they are doing as social innovators and encouraged them never to give up. In her words: “the work that you do is live changing. It is important that you realize that it is transformational work and that it is valid. You must also realize that these social innovations present opportunities for you to create jobs for other young people such as yourselves.”  

Delivering the keynote address at the awards ceremony of the Enactus Nigeria 2021 national competition, the Lagos State Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, commended Enactus Nigeria for “building a leadership core of young people who have the skills, experience and commitment to create social change across Nigeria and turn around our society.” She further stated: “I have met many young people over the years, and I think it’s very rare to meet young people who are as committed to making a difference, impacting others, and changing society as Enactus students are.”

In his closing remarks during the awards ceremony, Michael Ajayi congratulated the Enactus students for being innovative and daring to find solutions to everyday problems. In his words: “through these innovative business solutions you have created in response to the prevailing challenges in your communities, you all have demonstrated the kind of entrepreneurial leadership that is required to facilitate reverse-innovation, create job and wealth opportunities, whilst also changing the narrative of the Nigeria youth.” He also re-iterated that Enactus Nigeria is committed to pursuing and achieving the goal of transforming Enactus projects into sustainable social enterprise that will stand the test of time and be co-owned by Enactus students. He therefore challenged the Enactus students to continue to demonstrate leadership by creating innovative, tech-driven business solutions to everyday problems in Nigeria. In his words “You never know, yours may be adopted into the Enactus Nigeria Incubation Program already being put together.”

Ajayi made a special thank you mention for the headline sponsor of the Enactus Nigeria national competition over the past five years – African Capital Alliance Foundation – for their committed support and partnership; and for enabling Enactus Nigeria to enable social impact. He also took some time to acknowledge the partnership of other organizations that have provided either in-kind or financial support for Enactus Nigeria over the past years, including: KPMG, Accenture, ACT Foundation, US Embassy (Abuja), US Consulate (Lagos), First Bank Nigeria, GT Bank, FCMB, Sahara Group, LEKOIL, Seplat Nigeria, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), SC Johnson and Son Nigeria Limited, BIC World, Ford Foundation, Unilever Nigeria, Nestle Nigeria, Coca Cola, Axa Mansard, Olam Group, Sovereign Trust, UAC, Nigerian Universities Commission, SMEDAN, Bank Of Industry, MTN Nigeria, Coca Cola Foundation, Sterling Bank, Spring Waters Nigeria Limited, etc.     

Finally, Ajayi congratulated all the Enactus students across the country for their demonstrated courage and tenacity whilst also congratulating the teams that qualified to compete at the Enactus Nigeria national competition 2021, reminding them that “when we compete to change lives, #WeAllWin!

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