By Dipo Olowookere In continuation to its commitment to creating jobs, wealth, as well as deepen financial inclusion, Heritage Bank Plc has empowered 100 aspiring and existing young micro entrepreneurs in Ajegunle, Lagos State with a grant scheme of about N8.5 million. This is being executed in partnership with the Center for Value Leadership (CVL), as part of the Heritage Bank various impact-driven programmes to empower the youths and women particularly in the under-developed communities in Lagos State and one of these is the Young Entrepreneurship Business Training Programme (YEBTP). Specifically, the programme involves grooming, mentoring and financing up to 100 aspiring and start-up entrepreneurs in Ajegunle, Lagos State. The business lines of focus for the programme are majorly: hair dressing, footwear cobbling, tailoring, and catering services. A statement made available by the bank\u2019s Group Head, Corporate Communications, Mr Fela Ibidapo, disclosed that the funds would be used to purchase the equipment needed by the entrepreneurs to start their businesses. He explained that under the grooming aspect of the programme, the entrepreneurs went through a 3-month intensive capacity building training programme in the areas of keeping accounting records, financial discipline, sales and marketing in order to equip them with the knowledge base needed to succeed as entrepreneurs. To further drive financial inclusion, he hinted that the business mentors on the programme opted to be part of the Heritage Bank\u2019s Agent Banking Network in order to extend banking services to the people of Ajegunle community, essentially make banking easily accessible for the people. According to him, the management of Heritage Bank believed that the essence of financial inclusion is not only about opening accounts for the unbanked and under-banked (low-income) people, but it is also significantly centred on financially and socially emancipating them for the common good of the community \u2013 This is the ultimate objective of the programme. Mr Ibidapo further explained that the entrepreneurs underwent a month hands-on internship\/mentoring experience with the business mentors to understand and be acquainted with the technical skills needed for each specific business lines, under existing and experienced business owners in Ajegunle. \u201cAlso the business mentors, will provide further support to the aspiring entrepreneurs when they start their business in the terms of gaining access to market. \u201cIn line with the strategic focus of the scheme to aid ease of finance, HBL is collaborating with CVL to set up a grant fund. This was in form of an equity finance to release to the entrepreneurs to fund the setting up of their business by purchasing start-up kits and work tools, as well as provision of working capital,\u201d he explained. At a graduation ceremony in Ajegunle, one of the graduates of the scheme, Miss Chinyere Kwuneme, who was presented with a generator and hair dryer, expressed appreciation to Heritage Bank and CVL and said the gesture would relive her of further expenses in the future. Mrs Chikereuba Nkechi, a graduate of Fashion Design, who was also a beneficiary, and presented with an \u2018over locking machine and a mannequin\u2019 said she was surprised when invited to come and collect the equipment. \u201cI felt overwhelmed and surprised. I didn\u2019t know they would go through with it, but I am indeed grateful to Heritage Bank and CVL for their support,\u201d she said. Ms Aminu Khadijat, another beneficiary of the programme, expressed her satisfaction and lauded Heritage Bank for supporting the initiative which she said would add value to her life.