AD King Foundation Prepares for Second Event after the Success of the First Ever Nigerian Chancellors Entrepreneurial Conference in Atlanta
By Kitty J. Pope
On the heels of the first ever historic 50 Nigerian Vice Chancellors (Nigerian University Presidents) Conference hosted by the AD King Foundation in Atlanta, Dr. Babs Onabanjo, organizer of the conference and CEO of the AD King Foundation is ready to present the next conference to be held this August 30th through September 5th, 2015. The next Nigerian Chancellor Entrepreneurial conference, with will host at least 29 other Vice-Chancellors to Atlanta with the same agenda and mission as the first one. Upon the success of the past conference, Dr. Onabanjo is excited about the next upcoming Chancellor’s conference and he is looking forward to another effective event.
The Chancellor’s mission for the conferences is to observe strategies of colleges and businesses in Atlanta that are successfully using entrepreneurial models which directly affect young leaders and entrepreneurs and to replicate these models in Nigeria. Dr. Onabanjo answered the call that was initiated in collaboration with ARA-Rock Ltd. of Nigeria, the partner company that spearheaded this mission. The conference which was 8 years in the making accomplished its goals and the Chancellors were pleased with the results of their observations, networking, collaborations and partnerships that were formed during the conference.
As Nigeria attempts to diversify away from dependence on oil, the Chancellors as well as other Nigerian leaders understand how important entrepreneurship is to the future of the Nigerian economy. They believe that the way to start preparing future business owners and developers is through equipping colleges and universities with entrepreneurship programs for training. Because at least 60% of graduates from Nigerian universities are not able to get immediate employment, many of these graduates seek entrepreneurial ventures, but have not been adequately prepared to face the challenges of owning your own business.
“Thus it has become necessary for the institutes of higher learning to put “entrepreneurial studies” into the curriculum to develop skills that will help these graduates set up and develop their own businesses,” according to Dr. Babs Onabanjo, who is not only the co-founder and CEO of the AD King Foundation, but also a college professor. A community activist and organizer, Dr. Onabanjo has worked to enhance opportunities for youth and young adults since he came to Atlanta in 1980. He has been initiating youth empowerment activities ever since and in 2009 he presented the first parade; 1st A D King Youth Empowerment Parade.. Also a filmmaker, Dr. Onabanjo produced the civil rights documentary “Behold the Dream: Brother to the Dream, a compelling story on the life and legacy of Rev. A.D. King
Dr. Onabanjo, who has served as chair of his college curriculum department and vice-president of Henry County Southern Christian Leadership Conference, believes that colleges implementing entrepreneurial curriculums is a way to help turn the economy around and foster black employment. “We must learn to be job makers instead of just job takers,” explains Dr. Onabanjo, who as founding producer helped to launch the first-ever African Diaspora World Tourism Awards and Travel Expo that honored movers and shakers in black cultural heritage tourism.
African Diaspora (AD) Tourism caught up with Dr. Babs Onabanjo to speak with him about how he convened the Atlanta Nigerian Chancellors Entrepreneurial Conference and what this monumental conference means:
AD Tourism- 1) How did the Atlanta-based AD King Foundation get involved with The Nigerian Chancellors Entrepreneurial Conference and its mission?
Dr. Onabanjo – “The AD King Foundation answered the call of the mission of the Nigerian Chancellors that was initiated in collaboration with Ara Rock LTD. Partners of Nigeria. The mission of AD King Foundation and the recently formed AD King Institute is in line with the conference activities as it attempts to address the systemic problems of graduate youth unemployment, and a paradigm shift from dependency to self-sufficiency mind set and from seeking employment to creating wealth, employment, problem solving, opportunities and building enterprises of magnificent dimensions through practical entrepreneurship models.
The Chancellor’s Entrepreneurial Conference addresses the problem of black dependency in an effort to promote black economic empowerment through business ownership. The AD King convened this conference to allow the Nigerian educators to observe and learn about strategies of colleges and businesses in Atlanta that are successfully using entrepreneurial models so that they can replicate such methods in Nigerian Universities. The role of the conference is to formulate partnerships with potential US based businesses and to identity potential opportunities.
The Nigerian Government established National University Commission as a regulatory body for the development of public tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The new government is fully committed to entrepreneurial training as part of college curriculums. There are 79 universities sponsored by the Federal Government throughout the states in Nigeria that can serve as incubators for research and development in such areas as technology, agriculture, energy power, manufacturing and marketing. The role of the conference is to also formulate partnerships with potential US based businesses and to identity potential opportunities. Fifty leaders of the 79 universities attended this conference and the other 29 will attend the upcoming conference in July.
AD Tourism - 2) You said that the vision of Nigeria is to become one of the world’s top 20 economies during the next two decades. How do you think colleges and schools can best play a part in helping Nigeria to reach this goals?
Dr. Onabanjo - It is important that universities, colleges and institutes of higher learning create centers for entrepreneurship on every campus, supporting creation of startup businesses through research and development. These educational institutes can set up incubators, accelerators, co-sharing spaces, provide mentoring, coaching, advisors and experts to support innovative entrepreneurship programs and activities. Colleges must commit to helping students and graduates who are risk takers, who want to create their own wealth through business ownership and development. Colleges must drastically change to develop the necessary entrepreneurial curriculums that will help to ensure success of these business minded young leaders.
Much of what is learned in Nigerian universities follows a colonial curriculum that trains students to sustain a European economy and students graduate to seek jobs. Universities need to develop entrepreneurial curriculums to promote our own economic development so the students will become job makers instead of job takers. With the largest population of blacks in the world being in Nigeria, the country is the best place to start changing the colonial mentality to one of self-sufficiency.
AD Tourism - 3) According to what you know about Rev. AD King, what do you think his feelings would be about having such a conference with his name attached? What were Ms. Naomi's King’s feelings and impressions?
Dr. Onabanjo - Rev A D Williams King would be proud because he lived a dedicated and committed life to serving and building a beloved community of hope, love and humanity. Mrs. Naomi King was elated and delighted for the vision, mission strategies and profound activities and successful implementation of the foundation’s program.
AD Tourism - 4) I know that the Vice Chancellors’ mission was to visit and observe strategies of colleges and businesses that are successfully using entrepreneurial models which directly affect young leaders and entrepreneurs. How did they go about doing this when they were in Atlanta? What are some of the colleges and businesses they collaborated with at the conference?
Dr. Onabanjo - The colleges were Kennesaw State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Clayton State University, Clark Atlanta University and University of Georgia. The companies include Cocoa Cola, Black On Purpose TV, Opportunity Hub Atlanta, Delta Airlines, Acqaponic Gardens, Atlanta Wealth Management, Georgia Work Ready, Chic Fil-A and Trumpet Awards Foundation. There were partnership agreements initiated with Georgia Tech, and University of Georgia. Other initiatives including Solar Power and Shea Butter are in progress. There were also film production collaborations, and collaborations regarding Distant Learning projects.
AD Tourism: 5) How will the next conference in July follow-up or be different to this past conference?
Dr. Onabanjo –The past event and Gala was attended by great minds and industry leaders. Among them were the Trumpet Awards Founder and Chief Executive Officer Xenona Clayton, the Nigerian Consul General Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe. It was also attended by representatives from several colleges and businesses. In July we plan to involve even more interactions with CEO’s and presidents of large corporations, especially the fortune 500 companies. We plan to include a host of city and government officials in the conference. We will explore more potential opportunities, create more collaborations and work together as teams. At least 30 other Vice-Chancellors will participate in the next conference in the same way that the 50 at the past event participated. We anticipate another successful conference.
For more information about the AD King Foundation and the upcoming Nigerian Vice-Chancellors Entrepreneurial Conference, visit ADKIngfoundation.ning.com.
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