On The Way To The European Market. Young Entrepreneurs In Nigeria Looking Forward To Going Global

YT’s Africa contributor, Hussaini Mohammed, went to Nigeria’s Osun State to meet one of the best creative Adire and Batik designers in Nigeria, Jibril Babangida. Jibril is creating jobs for hundreds of unemployed men and women by producing homemade Batik. In an interview with YT, the young Nigerian entrepreneur talks about his life story, pointing out that knowledge, persistence, and hard work are the sure way to move Nigeria’s artistic and creative professionals forward.

Could you tell us about yourself?

My name is Jibril Babangida, an Entrepreneur. I am currently the Creative Director of my small company: U and I Africa Clothings. I am an expert in Adire and Batik design, making unique, quality, and affordable custom-made costumes for all kinds of sizes and body shapes, suitable for every occasion.

I was born and raised in the Northern part of Nigeria. I started and completed my primary and secondary education at Ilorin, Kwara State. I had my tertiary education at the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State. I graduated from the Department of Office Technology and Management – August 2009.

I was privileged to benefit from a World Bank Initiative: Science and Technology Post-Basic Project (STEP-B PROJECT) September 2009. I emerged as the Best Trainee in the Adire and Batik Training section. In October 2009, I proceeded to acquire advanced knowledge about this vocation at the Fine Arts Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU Ife. By December 2009, I started training people, producing and selling fabrics, and creating a future for myself.

You sound serious about designing local attire, and you want your designs to reach the EU. Can you tell us why?

Oh, yes, I am very passionate about the promotion of the local fabrics. But before even thinking about my products crossing boarders, there’s a strong need to ensure that the item is accepted locally by both the led and the leaders.

Because it is one of the few ways that we can create a unique cultural identity for ourselves, boost our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and create immeasurable employment for the unemployed through a solid Value Chain in the fashion, entertainment, and hospitality industries.

We are about 200 million in population in Nigeria, if just 1% of the entire Nigerian population can patronize us daily, that’s a huge business success already.

What is your opinion about the promotion of young people in government or youth empowerment generally in the West African region, considering the trade treaty signed by members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)?

Investing in Youth is the secret behind the success of the majority of the developed countries. Insurgency and other anti-social vices that unemployed Youth are constantly engaged in are a result of the negligence of duty on the part of the African Leaders. But with proper capacity, building on leadership skills and business conscience, the Youth will definitely make the best out of this IT-based Generation.

Why is that young people always complain about the government for not including them in governance?

Young adults will always complain when the government neglects them in areas that are essential to their future. For example, Nigeria is so much blessed with talented young men and women across all industries. Do you know that Nigeria has lost an uncountable number of talented athletes due to inadequate support and attention, simply because these athletes do not have the proper external motivation or means to travel abroad where they can flourish with their skills? Do you know that we have lost track of the time Nigerian students have wasted over the last 10 years due to strike actions emanating from misunderstandings between the government and the academic community? And so on. Young people are right to get angry with their government, because they are not protected by their policies.

What are the categories of the fabric and clothing you have designed so far?

Adire (Tie and Dye) and Batik Fabrics production are my areas of specialty. This brand of fabric can be creatively used to design any kind of clothing, from casual to corporate, from daily wear to art decoration, etc.

What is your view on the right of young people to create more wealth?

My view on this is that the young have made unjustifiable amounts of noise and have been immature when it comes to wealth creation and management. Hence, I feel this should be a basic right for every good thinking individual. It is high time our government understood that Youth empowerment and wealth creation are the only sustainable way of becoming a developed country within the next few decades so that we can position ourselves as the real Giant of Africa.

Is there a chance for young people to realise their dreams in the present Africa?

Yes, everything is possible. If we look carefully at the few sectors that are really making waves today in Africa, you will agree that the time is now for young people to attain their dreams faster than ever. For example, the ICT, Media and Entertainment, Sports, Banking, etc, are all platforms where young adults have discovered their passion and expressed it creatively

What’s the story behind your academic success in Office Management Technology, a field dominated by women?

Sometimes, those things do not really matter. Everyone is faced with tasks and before you can even blink your eyes, a lot has happened already. Gender has nothing to do with results in a competitive environment. But I remember we were all taught that the best approach is to apply TACTFULNESS, SPEED, and ACCURACY in every situation.

What would you do differently from what is done in the field in Nigeria, if given an opportunity?

If given the opportunity, I would make sure I propose upgrading the instruction in the department to meet global standards and engage students in progressive research work.

What extra-curricular activity do you engage yourself in during your free time?

I always engage in online research, physical fitness programs, and attend Arabic classes whenever am off work.

Do you have a platform for encouraging others to be relevant to their communities?

Yes I do. Just recently, I trained over 200 students at the Federal Poly Ede in the lucrative vocation of Textiles manufacturing. It is a personal agenda for me to help as many persons as I can. I had the opportunity to train prison inmates at Ekiti state prison yard, in 2010. I have also trained Corps Members, various groups and individuals. I constantly engage pupils at the primary school level and train and expose them on how to create Tie and Dye, and Batik fabrics. I also campaign against indecent dress and promote moral behavior that will make us good ambassadors for our families and better role models for the next generation to come.

Is there a chance for youth to attain their dreams in startup businesses in Nigeria?

Yes, there’s a great chance for young people to attain their dreams, but on the condition that the government takes time to listen to them and what they want to offer. The current business structure is not favorable for any up-and-coming young businessman who does not have enough money. Young people need to be realistic about building capacity for business startups, focusing on sustainability and development.

What is your advice to today’s youth, many of whom are still unemployed?

My advice for fellow young people who are unemployed is for them to gather enough courage and think outside the box. If they look or observe carefully within their localities, they already are surrounded by problems that require urgent solutions, and people are willing to pay any amount for the solutions. Make money by helping others.

Photos: Personal archive of Jibril

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