Business grants worth N10 million have been given to 30 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by Unity Bank Plc.
The funds were shared to the corps members by the lender through its flagship business plan competition known as Corpreneurship Challenge, which is in its 6th edition.
The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has been an avenue to support the fresh graduates from the various tertiary institutions across the country serving their fatherland.
Unity Bank is currently in 10 states of the federation where three winners each emerged from the Batch B Orientation. The winners emerged last week from Lagos, Ogun, Benin, Abuja, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Sokoto, Enugu, Osun and Kwara States.
As in the previous editions, the cash prizes included a N200,000 business grant for third place winners; a N300,000 business grant for second place and a star prize of N500,000 for the winners.
Some of the winners included Yahaya Muhammad, Alade Ayinde and Omolola Kehinde in the Kano NYSC camp, while Chiamaka Nweke, Nduke Oduobuk and Victoria Adesope emerged as the winners in the Enugu State camp.
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In Lagos, Aliu Haira Abimbola, Uzoechi Ihuoma Augustus and Adesanolu Lukmon Abiodun emerged winners to claim the cash prizes.
One of the winners in Abuja, Ebingha Ogbe John appreciated Unity Bank for the opportunity, saying the initiative has helped her to showcase her business to the world.
“I thank Unity Bank for making my project, Mama’s Ally Crashfish to come alive in this Abuja,” she said.
The scheme continues to attract increasing interest among the corps members, as over 2000 applications were received but only 100 were shortlisted for the pitching sessions where the thirty winners emerged.
The contestants’ business plans which ranged from software solutions, fashion, fish production, poultry farming, bee farming, retail chains, piggery to beverages were assessed on originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.
Speaking during the finale in the FCT NYSC camp, the Divisional Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business Directorate, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, said the competition has proved to be a great tool for empowering fresh graduates in the country.
“The corpreneurship challenge is a creative entrepreneurial development initiative by Unity Bank in conjunction with the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. It is aimed at driving job creation through entrepreneurship.
“With rising youth unemployment in the country, it is just common sense to consider the entrepreneurship alternative”
“As the corps members join the labour market after their youth service, not every one of them will get the opportunity for a paid employment. But with what Unity Bank is doing, many of them will get the support they need to start a small business and even become employers of labour.
“We encourage the corps members to take seriously the opportunity that the Unity Bank Corpreneurship has provided. And to those that have emerged as the winners today, we ask them to utilise their grants judiciously. Unity Bank remains committed to empowering the youth through initiatives such as this, as we know that the bedrock of the economy is entrepreneurship,” he said.
The Zonal Head, North West, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Mustapha Idris Baba, implored the winners to judiciously utilise the funds to support the business venture that got them the grant.
This edition follows the expanded Corpreneurship Challenge which started in the 5th edition in June this year. The programme looks set to expand nationwide, empowering corps members to explore entrepreneurship alternatives in the face of rising youth unemployment in the country.
Recall that Unity Bank started the Entrepreneurial Development Initiative in 2019, to specifically target corps members, as part of efforts to contribute to job creation in Nigeria. It continues to gain traction, growing bigger and better in grooming corps members having successfully run several editions of the scheme in partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED).
Unity Bank has invested over N80 million in the initiative, which has now produced 58 winners since it was launched.