Sokoto State University Brings Sustainability Focused Entrepreneurship to its 5th Annual Chemistry Festival
More than 300 students and teachers from secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Sokoto State, Nigeria, were trained in various entrepreneurial skills and encouraged to explore business potentials of chemistry during the 5th Festival of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Sokoto State University International Student Chapter.
The festival, themed: “Chemistry Entrepreneurship for an Independent and Sustainable Future” was held this past summer at Sokoto State University (SSU) and featured several activities including entrepreneurship training, talks on chemistry entrepreneurship, hands-on experiments, a chemistry quiz competition for secondary school students, chemistry outreach to secondary schools, and award presentations.
The entrepreneurship training targeted three green and sustainable chemistry-related skills that taught students how to convert waste resources into useful products with economic value. The targeted skills were production of household products, including shampoo, petroleum jelly, hair cream, and balm from bee products/wastes; conversion of plastic bag wastes into bricks/interlocks for building; and preparation of pesticides from natural products. Prior to the festival, about 80 students and members of the ACS student chapter at SSU were trained by professional resource persons during a chapter Chemistry Entrepreneurship Skills Development Day. The students then served as volunteers to train more than 200 participants from secondary schools on the skills during the 2023 ACS Chemistry Festival event of the chapter.
A high point of the festival was the presentation of awards to winners of the chemistry quiz competition. Out of the 33 secondary schools that participated in the quiz competition, Sultan Bello Secondary School, Sokoto, received the first prize award while Brilliant Footsteps International Academy, Sokoto, and Federal Government College, Sokoto, got second and third prize awards respectively.
In a festival lecture titled “Chemistry Entrepreneurship for an Independent and Sustainable Future,” Dr. Ibrahim Muhammad, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at SSU, urged festival participants to explore the business potentials of chemistry. He said chemistry touches all sectors of human lives and that both industrial and small-scale products useful to society are being produced daily using chemistry knowledge. He further listed a range of chemistry-related products that are being applied in agriculture, medicine, cosmetics, and building and construction, among others.
In a second presentation, titled “Tips on Moving from Learning to Entrepreneurs,” the vice-chancellor of Iconic Open University, Dr. Shadi Sabeh, urged students and graduates to cultivate entrepreneurship habits and explore business initiatives in chemistry education considering the scarcity of government and institutional jobs. Dr. Sabeh further highlighted several tips to convert chemistry knowledge into a business enterprise. He urged the ACS to expand the festival initiative and chemistry programs to further enshrine business education in the chemistry curriculum.
In his remarks, SSU Vice-Chancellor Bashar Garba urged participants to take full advantage of the opportunity by putting the skills acquired into practice. The VC, who was represented by SSU Director of Laboratory Services Prof. Mansur Ibrahim Yahaya, Director Laboratory services, Prof. Abdullahim Ibrahi noted that the university’s Chemistry Department and the ACS student chapter were renowned for organizing such professional development events for both staff and students. He enjoined them to maintain the tempo and promised to always support the chapter whenever possible.
Student chapter members and other volunteers were very excited about their participation at various levels of planning and organization of the festival. They made special presentations, trained secondary students in entrepreneurship, selected event dates and planned the program, publicized the event by distributing invitation cards and flyers to secondary schools and other invited guests, and coordinated timekeeping and kept scores for the quiz competition. In the outreach to BUA schools, Sokoto, student members assisted in organizing and demonstrating festival experiments, procured materials, and compiled feedback.
Here is what some of the volunteer students and participants said:
Abdullahi: “I was happy to be part of the planning and also organizing the festival.”
Hadi: “I enjoyed guiding students during the hands-on experiment.”
Aisha – “I developed great skills in making products like Vaseline and hair cream, and I enjoyed also teaching other participants how to make such products.”
Mustapha: “The best part for me was to train students on how to apply chemistry knowledge to make money.”
Patricia: “This has developed my event planning skills. I am happy to be part of the planning of such an important event.”
Musa: “It is nice to see our secondary school students participate in this type of training event. I would encourage the ACS and other societies to continue to organize such events annually.”
Participants at the event were full of praise for the chapter. They thanked the ACS for funding the event and advised that such events be organized more often. They also enjoined other societies to emulate the impactful programs of ACS. Notable dignitaries at the festival included Prof. Abdullahi Ibrahim Tsafe, chair of the Chemical Society of Nigeria, Sokoto Chapter; Dr. Shamsudeen A. Ahmad, head of the Department of Chemistry, Sokoto State University; and representatives from the Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education, Science and Technology, and Higher Education, Sokoto.