Around an oblong conference table, on a Tuesday late in the afternoon, the Nigerian government detailed a new and innovative program designed to attract American companies that want to do business in Nigeria.
The plan, as revealed in full for the first time in a public forum, aims to partner U.S. companies that want to mentor Nigerian companies. In exchange, the Nigerian government promised to do everything it can to make sure the pairings are profitable.
The meeting, held at the Nigerian Embassy, included U.S. and Nigerian government representatives along with U.S. private businesses and other interested parties, outlined a plan of action for the new Nigerian Mentorship Program.
A Nigerian Executive Order signed in May assures American investors involved in the Mentorship Program a straight-forward process that will only involve dealing with one office.
The program will have an assigned officer who will deal directly with both Nigerian and American governments so American companies don’t have to.
Bayo Idowu, Head of Economic and Trade Relations at the Embassy of Nigeria, introduced the mentorship program. Chika Sylva-Olejeme, Chief Mentorship Officer at the National Mentorship Office of Nigeria, outlined the proposed procedure and the main reasons that the program is an exciting opportunity for U.S. business leaders and investors.
“We want the U.S. companies to make money,” says Sylva-Olejeme, “so Nigerians can learn how they made the money.”
The program aims specifically to involve micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in order to improve and diversify the economy and business environment of both nations.
Also present at the meeting were representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the public relations firm The Publicity Agency, as well as representatives from Nigerian business and humanitarian organizations, Alpha Energy and Electric.
Private companies, said Idowu, may choose their own partner companies and customize agreements to suit their own specific dynamic and goals. A large-scale backing from the Nigerian government, along with input and guidance from the U.S. government, assures investors that words spoken about the NEMS program will be followed through with actions.
“For the first time, we have both governments’ backing,” says Franklin Ekechukwu, head of the Nigerian Mentorship Program in the United States, “so we are not going to lose.”
In exchange for the sharing American methods of business and diplomacy, the U.S. companies will get assistance and backing from the Nigerian government. Licensing and other internal business matters will be up to the American company.
The American company will also receive the final say in which companies it will mentor.
The Nigerian government says there will be a thorough vetting process for prospective mentees entering American work environments. Anyone interested would need to apply and be approved before the company receives access to a web portal with a private PIN number.
Mentor companies in Nigeria will receive basic skills training prior to beginning work in the U.S.
American companies interested were asked to submit objectives and outline how the Nigerian company will learn from them.
A follow-up meeting is scheduled at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to further discuss ways in which the U.S. government will back the program.
Individuals and companies are welcome to begin the application and pairing processes any time, and the mentee portal is estimated to be ready next month.
Interested U.S. business leaders should contact Franklin Ekechukwu at (202) 710-4069.
SOURCE: The Publicity Agency
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