By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Thirty members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been given a grant of N10 million after a business pitch presentation held across 10 of the 36 states of the federation.
The funding support was provided by Unity Bank Plc through its Unity Bank Entrepreneurship Development Initiative, known as Corpreneurship Challenge.
It is targeted at empowering fresh graduates and corps members on one-year compulsory national youth service. The scheme is currently in its ninth edition.
A statement from the lender disclosed that the 30 corps members were picked from Rivers, Delta, Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa, and Enugu, with each state producing three winners who took home cash grants of N500,000, N300,000 and N200,000.
For this edition, the beneficiaries focused on renewable energy, fashion, beauty, agro-processing, confectionaries, etc.
The winners emerged after their business plans were assessed by a panel looking out for business ideas that demonstrate originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product, and knowledge of the business.
Some of the winners at the Rivers State NYSC Orientation camp at Nonwa Gbam Tai included Muoneke Gift, whose business plan on renewable energy took home the grand prize of N500,000; followed by Ilesanmi Olamide’s business proposal on beauty services to claim the N300,000; and Ekanem Moses Idoreyin’s confectionary business proposal, which took home the N200,000.
Speaking during the finale at Rivers State NYSC Orientation Camp recently, the Group Head, Retail, E-Business, and SME Banking, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, said the bank was delighted with the impressive records the Corpreneurship Challenge has pulled so far.
“When we launched the initiative in 2019, we set out to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs that will disrupt the job market by creating much-needed jobs across all sectors. Today, we have come a long way, and the Corpreneurship Challenge has lived up to its billing,” he said.
Represented by Regional Manager, Port Harcourt Region, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Eto Ukpe, Mr Akinmade reiterated the lender’s commitment to sustaining the initiative and mainstreaming the Corpreneurship Challenge as a reliable and impactful entrepreneurship and business empowerment and mentorship programme in the country.
“What we have today in the labour market is far from the ideal. However, it is not enough to keep complaining. We must make lemonade out of a lemon. We believe that the Corpreneurship Challenge has proved to be one of the most creative approaches to tackling the intractable crisis we have in the job market in Nigeria.
“Our goal is to expand this programme to all 36 states and sustain it for as long as possible to achieve record impact. We continue to encourage the winners to continue to learn the rudimentary lessons necessary to build a successful business.
“We emphasise that the budding entrepreneurs who take part in this initiative constantly think about the challenges they will face and put the same energy they all have displayed in preparing for this contest in their businesses as they face their post-service year ahead,” he stated.
The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has gradually joined the league of some of the most impactful, youth-focused entrepreneurship development initiatives in Nigeria, empowering no fewer than 100 young entrepreneurs over the past three years.
Recently, one of the beneficiaries in Sokoto, Ms Beulah Yusuf, who emerged as second runner-up in one of the editions, successfully launched her recycling business with the grant received from the bank.
She unveiled her products, widely acclaimed for addressing environmental pollution and waste management inefficiencies, underscoring the bank’s motivations to sustain the initiative.
The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the bank national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.
In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500,000 cash in the business grant.
So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative, which has now produced 118 winners since it was launched in 2019.
Visa Sponsors Ecobank Cardholder’s Trip to Qatar for World Cup
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A customer of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Ejike Michael Eziuche, will have the opportunity to travel to Qatar for the ongoing FIFA World Cup taking place in the country for free.
This was made possible by just being a customer of the financial institution in Nigeria and being issued a Visa card by the bank.
The Ecobank cardholder was among the winners of the payments firm’s Spend & Win Campaign, designed to reward customers and football lovers who were active users of their Visa cards.
The only condition to be part of the promo was spending a minimum of N50,000 in at least five transactions to qualify. The winners will have the opportunity of a first-class experience in the tournament, all expenses covered as Visa is the Official Payments Sponsor of the tournament.
“Mr Eziuche’s emergence as a winner is a reflection of the hassle-free payment experience our customers enjoy with their Ecobank Visa cards.
“At Ecobank, we are always innovating our services to suit our customers’ lifestyles, especially when it comes to how they can effortlessly access our products. I am truly delighted for him and wish him a memorable time in Qatar,” the Head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, commented.
“We understand our role as a leading payments provider, pioneering seamless payments experiences across Africa; this is why we partner with critical stakeholders like Visa to ensure that our customers can have cards that allow them to enjoy financial services from anywhere in the world.
“Our promise to our customers has always been the same; to provide them with access to affordable and reliable financial services.
“We will continue to do so through our digital platforms, including Ecobank Mobile App and USSD *326#, Ecobank Online, Ecobank OmniPlus, Ecobank Omnilite, EcobankPay, Ecobank RapidTransfer, ATMs, POSs and an extensive distribution network of over 250 branches and over 50,000 agency banking locations,” she added.
Ecobank Nigeria is a subsidiary of the Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African banking group with operations in 33 African countries and an international presence in four locations (London, Paris, Beijing, and Dubai).
The lender is a major player in the distribution of financial services in Nigeria, leveraging digital platforms, including Ecobank Mobile App and USSD *326#, Ecobank Online, Ecobank OmniPlus, Ecobank Omnilite, EcobankPay, Ecobank RapidTransfer, ATMs, POSs and an extensive distribution network of over 250 branches and over 60,000 agency banking locations.
Sterling Bank Sponsors Training of 1,000 Youths at NJFP
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Sterling Bank Plc has sponsored the training of 1,000 fellows at the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme (NJFP), a youth empowerment initiative between the Nigerian government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The programme, launched in 2021, was borne out of rising unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic, which adversely impacted the ability of young Nigerians to find work.
The initiative seeks to connect talented graduates with local job opportunities that apply their expertise while equipping them with world-class practical knowledge and relevant skills, and it does not matter if an applicant does not have job experience.
It targets a broad range of sectors, including the start-up economy, innovation, and creative industries, the digital and technology sector, the green economy sector, financial services, key public and international development institutions, research and development, agriculture, real estate, construction, transportation, and health services. In other words, there is a place for every organisation in this programme.
The Managing Director of Sterling Bank, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, explained that his company supported the programme because of its interest in the education sector as one of five sectors it is presently concentrating investments in under its HEARTs of Sterling programme. The other sectors are Health, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation.
It will be recalled that as part of its commitment to the reduction of unemployment among youths in the country, Sterling Bank Plc recently renewed its partnership with iCreate Africa to provide a payment system that allows qualified workers to purchase tools and pay in instalments.
Consequently, the bank has also introduced different packages so that skill-seekers can access soft loans to buy tools, and it is encouraging skill-seekers not to let the opportunity slip off their hands.
Also, as part of this strategy, the commercial bank had also expanded its Café One community to Abuja in partnership with iCreate.
Zenith Bank Assures Budding Entrepreneurs Necessary Support to Succeed
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria have been assured by Zenith Bank Plc of all the necessary support they need to succeed and become corporate organisations capable of employing many people.
The Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, who gave this assurance last Wednesday, disclosed that this was why the bank organised the second Zenith Tech Fair themed Future Forward 2.0.
At the keenly contested hackathon session, the sum of N53 million was won by the participants, with Ecotutu, a cleantech company making cooling affordable and accessible for businesses, especially in the agricultural sector, emerging as the overall winner and taking home the grand prize of N20 million.
This is in addition to a mentorship programme with Seedstars, a company dedicated to implementing high-quality capacity-building programmes for entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
The first runner-up, Foris Labs, an app-based platform that allows students to conduct science experiments individually and in groups interactively via their mobile phones, won N15 million and a mentorship programme.
The second runner-up, Finva, a start-up which helps creditors offer credits at low risk, won N10 million as well as a mentorship programme.
Other finalists who took home N1 million each were Sanwo, Itinu -Ev, Eduvacity, Green Bii, Zion Robotics, Sono Care, Base, and I grow Africa.
Addressing guests at the Eko Convention Centre, Mr Onyeagwu announced that “all finalists would be enlisted into our incubation lab for grooming and mentorship.
“Our expectation is that we are going to scale and grow them just like the zenith brand. So, looking at what we have gone through, I can tell you that so much iron has been loaded on fire. The only thing left is to activate the digital talents, tech skills and entrepreneurship that would culminate in a new digital economy for Nigeria.”
Described as a huge success by participants, the two-day Tech Fair featured presentations on the leading technological innovations that cut across different aspects of life, such as Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, Big Data, FinTech, Augmented Reality, Data Analytics, 5G and Communication Technologies, with the keynote address, The Future of Banking: Digital Transformation Journey, delivered by Brett King, the renowned futurist, bestselling author, award-winning speaker, founder of Moven and Author of Bank 4.0.
The event also featured a goodwill message by the founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia.
Other eminent IT practitioners from top global brands who also made presentations included Tarik Alatovic, Senior Partner, McKinsey; Juliet Ehimuan, West Africa Director, Google; Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Inc.; Andrew Uaboi, Vice President/Head, Visa West Africa; Mrs Rakiya Mohammed, Director of Information Technology, CBN; Chris Lu, Managing Director, Huawei Technologies Nigeria, and Dame Ms Adaora Umeoji, Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, amongst others.
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