By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, April 5, 2020
No fewer than 100 Nigerian business proposals have qualified to receive N1 million each, as business support grants from friends of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The beneficiaries were selected under the aegis of the ‘March 8 Initiative for Small Businesses’ organised and promoted by Friends of Osinbajo in commemoration of his 63rd birthday.
Osinbajo clocked 63 years on March 8.
The initiative, in a statement by its Coordinator, Ikem Isiekwena, on Sunday in Abuja, said that the final verification of successful 100 proposals who would receive N1 million each as grant to support their business enterprises was ongoing.
The initiative, aimed at creating opportunities for Nigerian youths, was instituted to support young Nigerian entrepreneurs with brilliant minds and disruptive ideas, seeking opportunities for growth and expansion.
The verification process, which started March 27, will end on April 9.
The successful candidates for the verification stage of the awards were selected after a vigorous process of screening and vetting of their entries by a team of internal and external evaluators.
Isiekwena explained the rationale behind the initiative.
“Friends of Prof. Osinbanjo will continue to make it a priority to help small businesses grow and expand in smart, innovative and efficient ways.
“The March 8 Initiative is just one unique way of equipping small business owners with the right resources to best drive their business forward.
“Following the announcement of the initiative on February 29th, 2020, Nigerian entrepreneurs, who met the initiative’s eligibility criteria including the ownership and running of a business, were advised to submit a one-page proposal, describing in explicit detail, how the grant money will help elevate their business to the next level.
“This call was made using advertisements on social media, as well as several publications online and offline.
“As at the deadline, March 3, a total of 20,200 applications were received to be reviewed, kicking off the first stage of the screening process known as the Eligibility Screening,” he said.
This stage was conducted by an independent team who exhaustively went through all applications validating them based on the terms and conditions stated on the invitation to apply.
The next stage, conducted by “External Evaluators”, evaluated each proposal on its substance, awarding marks on a range of criteria including, but not limited to, clarity, cogency, and inventiveness.
The coordinator said that interested entrepreneurs for future grants and opportunities should visit the group’s official site – www.march8th.ng, or follow social media channels with @friendsofprof. for detailed information.
Members of the panel that reviewed the applications were Dr Kenneth Amaeshi, Director of Sustainable Business Initiative at the University of Edinburgh Business School, UK, Furera Jumare, Chief Executive Officer of MicroDevelopment Consulting Limited (MCDL), who also sits on the boards of Union Bank Nigeria and Kaduna State Microfinance Implementation Committee.
Others were Bunmi Otegbade, Co-founder and Managing Director of Generation Enterprise, an organisation that equips youth with transferable skills and career pathways through AI-enabled skills education in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and New Delhi, India.