By Patrick Albert
I count it a great deal of honour to be invited to this unique gathering of participants for the National Brigade School programme for South South & South East mounted by Boys Brigade, Nigeria to offer worthwhile discourse on multifaceted issues germane to the spiritual and entrepreneurial wellbeing of members of this worldwide international organisation.
Let me therefore convey to you all, the hearty felicitations of my family and the fraternal wishes from the leadership and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, of which I am privileged to lead as the State Chairman
I fully cherish the symbiotic relationship that have ensued between us since my induction as a State Patron of Boys Brigade, Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State Council on that fateful Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Union Secondary School, Ibiaku in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area on the occasion of the 12th Annual General Meeting of Boys Brigade, Nigeria.
What is more, I have since then been part and parcel of a number of programmes of the Boys Brigade, and on each occasion, my understanding and appreciation of the worthy objectives of this noble organisation have really been mind-blowing. I can say therefore that I am in the right place and with the right people.
I can still recall that on Saturday, October 21, 2017, I participated as a keynote speaker in a one-day capacity workshop for Akwa Ibom State elected officers and inauguration of committees at the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, 73 Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo on the topic, “Breaking Up Fallow Ground,” with Bible reference taken from Jeremiah 4:3.
Let me say with satisfaction that beyond the thrills associated with the para-military features of the Boys Brigade, lies the fact that every of its gathering is utilised to recreate the mental and spiritual wellbeing of members. This is very essential and I must applaud the Boys Brigade for its consistent responsiveness to the needs of members.
Greek philosopher, Aristotle opines that “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” It is obvious to say that the wellbeing of a man is dependent upon his capacity. Man’s capacity is derivable from physical factors –empirical, teachings, etc., and spiritual factors – intuition, revelations, etc.
The functionality of a developed mind can be so great. The scriptures in Philippians 4:13 states thus, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” Winston Churchill adds that, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”
It means therefore that pursuits hang on the mind. Instructively, Oliver Wendell Holmes posits that a “Man’s mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension.” I can say that the mind of a man is not a fixed institution – it grows and decreases, subject to inputs.
As an oiling to this truism, the Holy Scriptures states in Proverbs 4:23 thus, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” It is obvious that the teachings we receive either from formal or informal settings, form the major feeds to our minds vis-à-vis our hearts, and therefore shape us to act proportionally to the extent of our convictions.
Again, the scriptures in Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” This is why regular inputs assimilated through a gathering like this is very important.
This is the premise which informed my acceptance not only to honour the invitation to attend this auspicious programme for the National Brigade School for South South & South East, but to also present a paper on the topic, “The Relevance of Entrepreneurship Development among the Boys’ Brigade Members.”
Before I dovetail on the topic, which is quite apt, let me re-enact what the Boys Brigade stands for as espoused in its object thus, “The advancement of Christ’s kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline, self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.”
Boys’ Brigade’s birth in Glasgow founded by Sir William Alexander Smith on October 4, 1883, has through the use of a semi-military discipline and order, gymnastics, summer camps and religious services and classes, helped tremendously to build our young ones and adults who are involved in its activities.
As believers, we are bound to be thrilled by the Boys Brigade’s motto, “Sure and Steadfast”, which our great pathfinder and founder, Sir William Smith obtained from the Holy Scriptures as recorded in Hebrews 6:19. It states, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (KJV). With Boys Brigade’s rich spiritual and philosophical contents, I can say without equivocation that, it is a worthwhile body for one to proudly belong.
It is on record that Boys Brigade’s global growth, and in particular, Akwa Ibom State nay Nigeria, has constantly been on the increase. Its impact on the society from the standpoint of ethical and altitudinal re-orientation, humanitarian services and spiritual reawakening, to manpower and economic development, has been on a commendable note, making it a dependable institution.
What is more, with the wide accommodation of members from diverse background across the globe, Boys Brigade remains one of the reliable pillars promoting unity, oneness, and peace as well as engendering mutual understanding in the world. I therefore salute all officers and men of the Boys Brigade for sustaining its laudable objectives.
Permit me to formally congratulate Boys Brigade, Akwa Ibom State Council for hosting this major National Conference with participants drawn from the eleven (11) States of South South and South East Councils, and perhaps beyond. I wish to also join the State Council to welcome all participants to our Land of Promise and Fulfilment and to wish you all successful stay and deliberations, knowing that the ever faithful God will take you back safely at the end of the programme.
Let me boldly say that this Conference is not only to share knowledge on some know-how on contemporary issues but to enable participants’ access spiritual warranty against the vicissitudes of life. Obviously, as believers, we should know that the strength of our spiritual base constitute the amount of antidote that will act as safeguards when faced with challenges or when one seeks to accomplish a rare goal.
Before me to examine for our consumption, is the topic, “The Relevance of Entrepreneurship Development among the Boys’ Brigade Members.” I will approach this task not strictly from the academic standpoint. However, I will examine it by employing, where necessary, thematic, conceptual and logical principles of the environment, and as well, bring in Christian perspectives.
What is Entrepreneurship? At the centre of our discussion is Entrepreneurship. Understanding it will give us a better perception of the topic, “The Relevance of Entrepreneurship Development among the Boys’ Brigade Members.” In this regard, we have to take the basic steps to dissect it. Firstly, we look at the word, “entrepreneur.” This originated with the French word “entreprendre” which means “to undertake.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
So what therefore is Entrepreneurship? According to Wikipedia, the global Encyclopaedia, “Entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which is often initially a small business. The people who create these businesses are called entrepreneurs. It went on to add that Entrepreneurship has been described as the “capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit.”
As Wikipedia also added, “A broader definition of the term (Entrepreneurship) is sometimes used, especially in the field of Economics. In this usage, an Entrepreneur is an entity which has the ability to find and act upon opportunities to translate inventions or technology into new products: “The entrepreneur is able to recognize the commercial potential of the invention and organize the capital, talent, and other resources that turn an invention into a commercially viable innovation.”
From study, the usage of the term “entrepreneurship” expanded in the 2000s, “to include how and why some individuals (or teams) identify opportunities, evaluate them as viable, and then decide to exploit them.”
Basically entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, or “the owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits.” Entrepreneurs act as managers and oversee the launch and growth of an enterprise. Entrepreneurship is the process by which either an individual or a team identifies a business opportunity and acquires and deploys the necessary resources required for its exploitation. Early 19th century French economist Jean-Baptiste Say, provided a broad definition of entrepreneurship, saying that it “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.”
Obviously, entrepreneurs are involved in creating “something new, something different—they change or transmute values.” Notwithstanding the firm’s size, big or small, they can partake in entrepreneurship opportunities.”
How then do we examine the “Relevance of Entrepreneurship Development among the Boys’ Brigade Members? Basically, existence demands survival. The world is a taxed environment. We virtually have to pay for everything – from food, clothing and shelter. Services needed as part of our human existence is taxing. We find ourselves being overwhelmed with the cost to live and service our wants much higher than what our incomes can provide.
The air we breathe is often considered as the most precious free gift by nature – God. Even at that, an individual must be able to determine how well he lives to be able to breathe a good air. A man whose income cannot support him may have to live in a slump or in an environment which may not guarantee good value for his life. And in such environment or such other very challenging circumstances, can he still freely enjoy the free air?
Survival therefore throws up classes in the society. What you do determines what you earn and how you live. Even spiritual blessings recognises personal labour as a springboard to tap into divine favour. As can be deducted from Deuteronomy 28: 12. It states, “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.”
Having something to do either as an employee or employer is important. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Getting your thoughts established as an entrepreneur is much more resulted oriented that being a dependant as an employee.
It is rather intrinsic that we are more attuned to earnings (dependant) than creating the earnings (independent). Average school leavers seek employment than seeking to create the process of business ownership. Our educational system tends not to inspire entrepreneurship in our graduates. Almost everyone out of school wants to work, to be gainfully employed and not to explore opportunities for self-development in business or other aspects like scientific or other forms self-development.
This paper therefore, as conceived for this workshop is to stir up the latent talents of participants to seek business avenues that will not only advance their economic values but will bring out the industry in us all for greater earnings and fulfilled lifestyles.
Something very encouraging is offered in Proverbs 31:16-18 thus, “She considers a field and buys it. Out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night.” Staying focus is very important once you find a trade or venture to engage in.
In his article on “Biblical Entrepreneurship and Success,” Morris E. Ruddick said that “Entrepreneurship, as most people think of it, is generally lumped into a vague category of anything-to-do with business. Yet, it’s more, so very much more. Ruddick says his “perspectives on entrepreneurship, aside from being a business owner, have been influenced by two primary sources. First, is the word of God and another, a role model, Bill Bolton, committed Christian founder of the St. John Innovation Centre of St. John’s College at Cambridge University.
In a book titled “Entrepreneur: Talent, Temperament and Technique,” authored by Bill Bolton and John Thompson, entrepreneur is defined as “a person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of value around perceived opportunity.”
Ruddick argues that, “A key part of God’s nature is to create and bring increase. These factors are vital components of entrepreneurship. As His (God) nature resides within those who believe, there is a certain level at which this entrepreneurial dimension works within each believer. For some it operates as a natural gift. For others, it represents an enhancement to other forms of gifting, such as the anointed gift of Bezalel in Exodus. Within community, biblical entrepreneurship represents a potential to be nurtured…”
In Exodus 31:2-6, we find divine insight to endowments towards entrepreneurship. It says, “See, I have called by name Bezalel. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”
Accordingly, aside intuitive knowledge, the opportunity to become an entrepreneur requires four criteria as enumerated by various authorities like Richard Cantillon and Adam Smith in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, as highlighted by Wikipedia. “First, there must be opportunities or situations to recombine resources to generate profit. Second, entrepreneurship requires differences between people, such as preferential access to certain individuals or the ability to recognize information about opportunities. Third, taking of risk is necessary. Fourth, the entrepreneurial process requires the organization of people and resources.”
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries entrepreneurship was largely ignored theoretically and empirically until a profound resurgence in business and economics in the late 1970s. The understanding of entrepreneurship in the 20th century, owes much to the work of economist Joseph Schumpeter and other Austrian economists such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Von Hayek.
Schumpeter opines that an entrepreneur “is a person who is willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation.” The exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities may include: Developing a business plan, hiring the human resources, acquiring financial and material resources, providing leadership, and being responsible for both the venture’s success or failure.
As detailed above, entrepreneurship offers the participant wide opportunities – from better economic status to being a development driver in the society. Boys Brigade members can tap into government programmes at the Federal and State’s levels to achieve their aims.
In Akwa Ibom State, an agency, Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme has brought about new revolution in agriculture and other spheres. Many persons have taken advantage of that initiatives to make earnings in Tomatoes, Cucumber, Onions and other vegetables.
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), is one outfit established to aid business growth. Its principal objectives are:
- Ensuring the creation of a conducive atmosphere for the pursuit of commerce, industry and all other forms of economic activities of interest to the Private Sector.
- The promotion, protection and development of all matters affecting business.
- Contribution of ideas for the overall economic stability of the nation.
- Encouragement and promotion of the nation’s private sector.
- Provision of a network for national and international business contacts and opportunities.
Intending entrepreneurs can seek Government programmes and services that promote entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurs and start-ups. There are also Non-governmental organizations such as small-business associations and organizations that offer advice and mentoring to entrepreneurs (e.g. through entrepreneurship centres or websites)
There are also small-business advocacy organizations that lobby governments for increased support for entrepreneurship programs and more small business-friendly laws and regulations. Entrepreneurship resources and facilities (e.g. business incubators and seed accelerators). Entrepreneurship education and training programs offered by schools, colleges and universities. Financing (e.g. bank loans, venture capital financing, angel investing and government and private foundation grants).
Getting acquainted to these will surely give a good footing to one becoming an entrepreneur. Starting small should not be discouraging. It is often said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a step.
An emerging entrepreneur must cultivate business sense. Drucker says that ‘the purpose of a business is to create a customer.” An entrepreneur has “to provide a good or service for which the customer has a need. Risk, as well as innovation, is involved in trying to create goods and services for the customer. If the customer sees no value, then there is no exchange of money between the entrepreneur and customer. The customer has to see that the good or service is worth the money that the entrepreneur needs to stay in business.”
It is obvious that “Entrepreneurs occupy a central position in a market economy. For it’s the entrepreneurs who serve as the spark plug in the economy’s engine, activating and stimulating all economic activity. The economic success of nations worldwide is the result of encouraging and rewarding the entrepreneurial instinct.
A society is prosperous only to the degree to which it rewards and encourages entrepreneurial activity because it is the entrepreneurs and their activities that are the critical determinant of the level of success, prosperity, growth and opportunity in any economy. Dynamic societies in the world are the ones that have the most entrepreneurs, plus the economic and legal structure to encourage and motivate entrepreneurs to greater activities.
I agree with Shobhit Seth that entrepreneurs are thought of as “national assets to be cultivated, motivated and remunerated to the greatest possible extent. Entrepreneurs can change the way we live and work. If successful, their innovations may improve our standard of living, and in addition to creating wealth with their entrepreneurial ventures, they also create jobs and the conditions for a prosperous society.”
Boys’ Brigade members must rise to engage in businesses. Don’t be left out. Proverbs 16:27 says “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop…” Nothing good can ever happen on its own. Every action requires a step.
Once again, I thank the organisers for the opportunity to be part of this historic gathering. I thank you all for your kind attention. God bless us all.
– Being a lecture presented by Elder Patrick Albert, JP, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council on the occasion of the National Brigade School for South South & South East at the Scripture Union Camp, Okon Eket, Eket Local Government Area on Wednesday, May 23, 2018