Nigerian lender, Unity Bank Plc has handed out a total of N10 million in prize money as business grants to 30 NYSC members in the latest edition of its flagship Youth entrepreneurship and empowerment initiative, Corpreneurship Challenge held across ten states recently.
The competition, already in its 7th edition, produced the 30 winners during the final business pitch for the 2021 Batch C Stream I corps members, which took place simultaneously across 10 NYSC camps in Lagos, Bayelsa, Ogun, Benin, Enugu, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Kano and Abuja.
Conceived as an Entrepreneurial Development Initiative in 2019, a part of the lender’s strategic drive to penetrate the youth market, the Bank doles out cash prizes of N200,000 as a business grant for each of the second runner up, N300,000 business grant for the first runner ups and a star prize of N500,000 for each of the Corpreneurship Challenge winners.
In this latest edition, some of the winners included Madukwe Juliana Uchenna, who claimed the star prize, while Michael Ngbede Barnabas and Akinpelu Fadekemi Itunu emerged as the first and second runner ups in the Bayelsa camp.
In Lagos, Olawale Moshood Mohammed, Ifeanyi David Agwu and Aderonke Victoria Ogunyade emerged winners to claim the cash prizes.
The competition has continued to elicit massive interest among the corps members and attracts no fewer than 1,000 applications on each edition. In this edition, 100 applicants were shortlisted, out of which, 30 emerged winners to claim the various cash prizes.
The contestants’ business plans which ranged from fish production, poultry farming, fashion, soap and cake making, printing, piggery to beverages were assessed on originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.
One of the winners, a graduate of the University of Lagos, whose business plan on fingerlings farming won the star prize in Lagos NYSC camp commended Unity Bank for the opportunity, as he said the grant will be utilized to expand his business to bridge the growing deficit in fish supply in Nigeria.
He said: “I pitched about fingerling farming and that was because of the 2.5 million metric tonnes deficit in fish supply in Nigeria. That has encouraged me to try to bridge the gap and I really appreciate Unity Bank for this opportunity. I am very happy that they created this avenue to help entrepreneurs like myself, which will really go a long way to improve the economy of the country. This has been a family business and this grant will really help us to expand the business and work towards bridging the deficit.”
Speaking during the finale in Lagos, the Group Head, Retail, E-Business and SME Banking, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, said the competition is gradually maturing as Nigeria’s premium business contest for emerging entrepreneurs.
“We are satisfied with the level of progress we have made with the Corpreneurship Challenge. In every edition, we are excited to see that the level of interest keeps growing stronger and we are impressed with the quality of business ideas that the corps members keep churning out.
“As we have maintained, the grants are not a loan and we want the money to be directed towards profitable ventures. The winners must devote their time to learning the rudimentary lessons necessary to building a successful business. We emphasize 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.”
Speaking further, Akinmade maintained that the Bank will sustain the programme in order to achieve a record impact on entrepreneurship support and job creation.
He said: “This is a programme that will stand the test of time, but all we are doing is to support NYSC corps members to start their own business no matter how small and then grow with it. Unity Bank is there and we are offering them a startup capital as well as business mentorship.”