The Managing Director of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has advised budding African entrepreneurs of the Next Titan Housemates to talk to small and medium enterprise (SME) desks of banks with a view to enabling them access credit at low interest rates.

Sekibo gave the advice while delivering a keynote address titled ‘Why African Needs New Breed of Entrepreneurs and Why Is Heritage Bank Championing It’ at the premiere of the 5th edition of the Next Titan TV reality show held in Lagos.

The Next Titan is Nigeria’s entrepreneurial reality TV show where thousands of ambitious young entrepreneurs across the country compete with one another for a grand prize of N5 million and a brand new car to start his or her dream business.

He also charged the budding entrepreneurs to stir up their entrepreneurship zeal in order to allow innate ideas to flow and blossom.

According to him, the entrepreneur is not the risk taker but the person who relentlessly pursue opportunities without recklessness, without regard to not having money, house or car or any strong financial support from family members, adding that in most cases he also the one that drops out of school.

Sekibo cited the pre-colonial era in Africa, when Africans forefathers, who were the entrepreneurs of those days in places like Lagos Island and Badagry, engaged in fishing and farming as well as trade across the west coast among themselves under an organised system.

The bank’s boss noted further that during the colonial period, the forefathers were affected by the culture and traditions of the colonialists, a development which affected their psyche, thereby making what is foreign to be more important than what is local.

Sekibo said that during the era western tradition became the order of the day as Africans moved away from entrepreneurship to white collar jobs to earn monthly income and the word job came into play, adding that work was no longer defined as the work of a tough man or woman on the farmland but depended on how much of the colonial language one understand.

In order to reverse the trend, Sekibo posited that budding African entrepreneurs should relive the DNAs that their forefathers left for them by uncapping them so that their innate ideas could flow and blossom.

According to him, while Africans burn with great ideas, they needed to mine them so that they could blossom, remarking that they need to have mentors that will enable them to achieve their goals.

The banker explained further that whereas money remained critical to entrepreneurship, the young entrepreneurs had to be bold and courageous to get it, adding that there is a spirit behind getting money which is largely influenced by character and integrity.

In his remarks at the event, Foluso Philips, Managing Director of Philips Consulting, listed some factors for successful entrepreneurship as including competence, character and behaviour, study and steadiness as well as compliant and chemistry of the prospective entrepreneur.

Similarly, Permanent Secretary to the office of the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Yetunde Odejayi, noted that entrepreneurship was part of key programmes of the state government and urged the youth entrepreneurs to be bold and resilient and be prepared to face challenges in order to succeed in their endeavours.

Also, the General Manager (Marketing) Coscharis Motors, Babarinde Abiona, tasked the youths to believe in themselves and be focused, adding that Coscharis, will give a brand new Ford Focus to the winner.

One of the boardroom judges, Chris Parkes, commended Heritage Bank for investing in the project and noted that judges would be very critical of their ideas because they want ideas that could add value to the country’s economy.

Altogether, about 60 finalists were unveiled at the premiere out of more than 2,000 contestants that were screened at various auditions in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Abuja and Lagos.

However, only 16 of them qualified for the house competition while Heritage Bank used a wild card to add two more contestants, Kalu Sylvester and Ugochi Ogadi, to increase the contestants to 18.