Having served as a senior representative of United Nations Development Program (UNDP), as a UN resident coordinator for operational activities, Professor Adebisi Babatunde Thomas is not new to the despair and disappointment which face African Youth in search of employment.
Africa’s workforce merely absorbs a quarter of its youth released into the world of work each year, a discrepancy which makes unemployment one of the major problems facing African youth today.
Through his interaction with the youth; serving in various positions not limited to: Managing Director, African Capacity Matters Ltd, Presidential Adviser on Human Resources, Science and Technology, Office of the President, Abuja, Nigeria Prof. Thomas’s dream had always been to transform Africa’s youthful talent into a major asset of the continent .
This is the dream Prof. Thomas brought into reality, through the launch of Adebisi Babatunde Thomas Entrepreneurship Institute, (ABTEI) on 20th January, 2016.
The entrepreneurship institute has partnered with the Strathmore University School of Management & Commerce (SMC) through the Strathmore Enterprise Development Center (SEDC). The partnership aims at offering programs, to teach, train and nurture entrepreneurship skills especially to the youth and women of the country and the continent at large. SMC and ABTEI will soon be celebrating the launch of the partnership.
The Board of Trustees include: Prof. Adebisi Babatunde Thomas, Honorary Chair, Prof. Edward Sambili, Chair, Prof. David Sperling, Treasurer, Martin Mbaya, Secretary, Teddy Warria, Chair Resource Mobilization, Dr.Luis Franceschi, Gautam Raj Jain, Abigail Thomas, and Angela Thomas.
Prof. David Sperling, Founding Principal of Strathmore University, in his opening remarks expressed his gratitude towards the realization of a shared dream, “Today we witness the realization of a common dream, shared by friends and family of Prof. Adebisi Babatunde Thomas, a dream dear to the country and its youth. What a noble gift! Life should be committed to a worthy and faithful service to mankind, which Prof. Thomas exemplifies today in this inauguration.” he said.
Pleasantries followed through from friends, who had attended the occasion to commemorate the remarkable inauguration of the institute, with addresses from Nardos Bekele -Thomas, Prof. Thomas’s wife, Abigail Thomas, his Daughter, Hon Ekwe Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Arun Devani, Ms. Martha Karua, Former parliamentary leader, Dr. Edward Sambili, and a keynote address from Vimal Shah, C.E.O Bidco.
Ms.Karua, “Providing opportunities to youth and women in entrepreneurship is bequeathing a perpetual gift to the continent. There is no way we can create the world we want without skills. When you mentor youth and women; you mentor and grow the whole country. Making the choice to launch and have the program in Kenya elucidates faith in Africa and in humanity.” she remarked.
Dr. Edward Sambili, “The Kenyan culture from historical perspective, had elicited the mindset of pursuing education in order to garner employment. This notion should be challenged at all stakes, by molding our youth to think creatively and innovatively, to be solvers of problems which face the country. I salute ABTEI for choosing to be placed in this landmark.”
Mr. Vimal Shah, CEO Bidco, giving his keynote address spoke expressively of the individual responsibility to serve others, mentioning that, “What we do everyday becomes our expression to humanity.” He urged the audience during the launch to exceed expectations in what they do, whilst embodying the spirit of family in their places of work. “Serving humanity should be part of our duty.”
He further noted, “Every year, our institutions release over a million people into the employment market in Kenya, resource which we should not see as a challenge, but see as an opportunity granted to grow our entrepreneurship sphere, through welcoming innovators and problem solvers into the country. Entrepreneurship has to be homegrown.”
Prof. Adebisi Babatunde Thomas, through a speech read out by Abigail, expressed his deep desires to see the Institute grow, and combat youth unemployment, through exploring other alternatives to make a noble living. “The biggest challenge in Africa has been to change Africa’s youth mindset, not see them as a vulnerable group to violence, or liabilities, but as a resourceful asset.” The occasion climaxed with the grand revealing of the plaque, a symbolic way to mark the colorful spectacle of a dream come true for a family whose lineage will always be rooted to Kenya.