Nigeria’s entrepreneur and chairman of Cubana Group Dr. Obinna Iyiegbu, otherwise known as Obi Cubana, has said that entrepreneurship is the most suitable pathway to sustainable human development in Africa as the continent contends with the quest to grow its economy and address the demands of rising youth population on the continent.
He made the assertion when he delivered a lecture at the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) in Abuja, over the weekend, under the conference theme, “Globalization and regional economic integration: Implications for sustainable development in Africa”.
Speaking, Obi Cubana noted that the self-employed persons and players in the micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly being recognized as the backbone of economies around the world, including developing and developed countries.
“SMEs currently represent about 90 percent of businesses and employ up to two-thirds of the global workforce. In developing countries, such as Nigeria, the percentage of self-employed workers, many of whom operate in the informal sector, are expected to increase over the next couple of years”
On Sustainable Development, the renowned businessman said that the ultimate aim of sustainable development is “to build a society where available resources and the living conditions continue to meet the needs of human beings without undermining the integrity of the planet and the stability of natural systems” He went on to state that the overall aim is to achieve the right balance between economic development, environmental protection, and social well-being.
On the role of entrepreneurship in sustainable Human Development, he explained that gone were the days when entrepreneurs were perceived as persons who were just interested in building their businesses and growing and increasing personal wealth or fortunes. According to him, this is because the businesses are established and run by entrepreneurs today often serve to provide services that will also have a positive impact on the economy, as well as the general well-being of the population, hence entrepreneurs play a vital and significant role in the economic development of societies.
“All around the world, entrepreneurs are given credit for growing and diversifying the economy and for contributing to wealth creation. Thus, entrepreneurship, as a mindset, automatically lends itself to sustainable human development.
“This is because the entrepreneur is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve societal conditions. They do this by providing innovative goods and services or devising new methods that will reduce detrimental activities, while also generating profits for the entrepreneur.
“By always thinking about doing things in new and better ways, entrepreneurship is highly relevant to any country genuinely interested in sustainability.
“From the business perspective, entrepreneurship (and an entrepreneurial mindset) can benefit sustainable human development. It can allow for quicker response to business opportunities that address the needs of the people.
“Thus, there is a consensus that entrepreneurship plays a vital role in sustainable human and economic development in many ways, especially through job creation, alleviation and eradication of poverty, improved living standard, and society impact through Corporate Social Responsibility” he highlighted
He emphasized that entrepreneurship offers a sure pathway to sustainable human development in Africa. It can be achieved through the creation of jobs that can help reduce unemployment and create wealth for citizens, stating that this will ultimately lead to the eradication of poverty and an overall improvement in the quality of life of citizens as measured by various economic and social indices.
“To achieve these, however, the many obstacles, such as lack of access to finance, lack of training, and poor state of municipal and technological infrastructure, which currently constitute challenges to entrepreneurship in the continent of Africa, must be addressed.
“At the Cubana Group, we have continued to make our modest contributions to sustainable human development through poverty alleviation, wealth creation, youth empowerment, scholarship schemes, and provision of seed funding for young entrepreneurs and innovators” he stated.