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PROJECT TOPIC: THE ROLE OF CHURCH IN EMPOWERING YOUTHS THROUGH ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMS, BY USING SHEPHERD PORCH BUSINESS ACADEMY, CALABAR, NIGERIA AS A CASE STUDY

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CHAPTER ONE

                                     INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background to the Study

The economic reforms in Nigeria were supposed to open up the national economy to the global economy, the reality on ground rather is the down-sizing of the civil service and more need to cut down on government expenditure (Onoge, 2005). This meant that social institutions, amongst them, schools deteriorated even as the intake and turn-out from such schools continued to rise annually. Consequently, the Nigerian situation is such that the institutions of learning turn out a workforce that is not equipped with the right skills employers require (McGraith and King, 1995). In addition, there is a recorded massive rural-urban drift, especially amongst the youth, who feel that they can make it better, economically in the metropolitan areas of the country (Echebiri, 2005). In consequence, the unemployed simply have to fend for themselves and grapple with this new phenomenon to create jobs independently self-employment as it is called and this has been the trend for over two decades. It is how the youth have fared in pursuit of economic power/empowerment (entrepreneurship) and what the church can do to support them that constitute the thrust of this study.

According to Osamwonyi (2008), the informal sector has been described by the International Finance Corporation as a vibrant sector that accounts for one-third of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), creating 90% new jobs. In Nigeria, the Federal office of statistics shows that the sector is responsible for 70% of Nigerian economic activity and 60% of total employment. By implication, a majority of Nigerians work and own business in this sector. However, the inability of the government to effectively harness the potential of these entrepreneurs and link them to the real sector has continued to foster poverty and undermine the potentials of economic growth that is inherent in this sector. Another important factor is that there are two types of entrepreneurs, namely: entrepreneurs of choice and those of necessity. The difference between the two is that entrepreneurs of choice are into business as a vocation and learn to seize opportunities in this field of endeavour. On the other hand, entrepreneurs of necessity are mostly those who are forced to survive in this sector because they do not have any other alternative. This group also comprises the dominant majority in the informal sectors who live and operate at the level of petty business/trading. Another significant difference is that the first group often comprise of business people who have received special training in one field or the other that place them in position to generate self-employment and to provide employment for other people. The second group is generally described as businessmen (and women) by necessity. Put in another way, skill acquisition is paramount because it is a recognized panacea for poverty alleviation as it fosters entrepreneurship and, in some cases, leads to the provision of micro-credit finance.



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