Hikmah, Enterprise Challenge
Hikmah (14) used to be extremely timid, describing herself as ‘mute, fidgeting and frightened’ when asked to speak in front of others. But after building her skills and confidence on Nigeria’s first ever Enterprise Challenge programme, Hikmah has found her voice, and unleashed her potential.
Public speaking makes most people nervous, especially if they haven’t had much chance to practise. But it is also a key life skill to master, and Hikmah has done just that.
In class at school, Hikmah used to whisper answers to a friend who would speak for her. Teachers describe how she has now transformed into a strong team player and a bold, inquisitive leader who is happy to stand up at the front of the classroom to share her ideas.
Hikmah herself sums up the difference simply: ‘I was not confident. But now, I’m really confident…. If I had to rate my confidence level, I would give it an eight.’
Shyness and low confidence are common barriers to success for young people all around the world, especially girls, restricting their chances to participate and contribute. But they are barriers that can be overcome.
From fidgeting to flourishing
Hikmah lives in Ibadan, one of Nigeria’s largest cities. Her father Mumin traces her shyness back to early childhood. He was struck by how quiet and reserved she was, even among small groups of friends, and recalls many discussions with her mother about how they could best support their daughter to become more confident.
The Enterprise Challenge programme offered at Hikmah’s school has played a key role in unlocking her potential, gradually building her confidence about joining in – and eventually leading – group activities, asserting herself when necessary.
‘I did not believe in anything called teamwork, but now I really, really believe in teamwork,’ Hikmah explains. ‘The programme helped me develop my leadership skills, and how to be bold a lot… Before, they used to bully me, but now even my friends could not bully me again. I can speak in front of people and I will stand up and say this is what I want and I am not doing that. I think this is what I am most proud of.’
At home, at school and among friends, Hikmah can now join in, present her ideas, argue her case and stand her ground – all essential skills for thriving in her studies and in later life. No longer fidgeting or frightened, she is now a teacher herself, often leading classes at her parents’ primary school.
Skills for life
Enterprise Challenge, designed by Prince’s Trust International and delivered through our partner Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), gives students the chance to work in small teams to develop their communication, teamwork and leadership skills in a school-based club. The sessions are all themed around entrepreneurship and financial literacy – vital for a future when many young people will need to work for themselves.
The programme, launched in Nigeria in early 2022, involves hands-on activities, mentor sessions with business leaders, and a business simulation game where students manage a virtual enterprise for several weeks, negotiating prices and solving problems as they go.
In Nigeria, senior school class sizes can reach over 100. This makes it harder for quieter students to develop essential skills. Enterprise Challenge facilitates hands-on learning and practice in small groups. This includes student teams designing and pitching eco-friendly business ideas of their own, with Hikmah pitching a food stall selling pies and barbeque meals.
A chance to shine
‘Hikmah was a star,’ recalls Ayooluwa Bamgbade from JA Nigeria. He charts how she blossomed over the six-week programme, starting out as ‘very timid’ and ending up taking on the role of team leader for her group, and volunteering to present their business idea.
‘I would definitely recommend this programme to my friends because it has changed a lot about me,’ says Hikmah. ‘Thank you JA Nigeria, thank you Prince’s Trust International, I’m really, really grateful.’