No fewer than twelve members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who took part in Unity Bank’s flagship business plan competition, Corpreneurship Challenge, have won cash prizes totaling N4 million.
The winners emerged during the final business pitch in the fourth edition of the contest for NYSC 2020 Batch B corps members, which took place simultaneously across four NYSC camps in Lagos, Ogun, Benin, and Abuja recently.
The cash prizes included an N200,000 business grant for each of the second runners up an N300,000 business grant for the first runner ups and a star prize of N500,000 for each of the four winners.
Some of the winners included Evelyn Esumai, Aisosa Erica, and Ozuoka Moses in Abuja camp, while Akomolade Blessing, Okafor Augustine, and Edokpayi Harrison emerged as the winners in the Benin camp.
In Lagos, Moses Bolanle, Iran-Ola Oluwosulu, and Zainab Muhammed emerged winners to claim the cash prizes.
The initiative attracted massive interest among the corps members, as over 300 applications were received but only forty were shortlisted for the pitching session from where the twelve winners emerged.
The contestants’ business plans which ranged from fish production, poultry farming, fashion, piggery to beverages were assessed on originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product, and knowledge of the business.
Recall that Unity Bank debuted the Entrepreneurial Development Initiative in 2019, to specifically target corps members, as part of efforts to contribute to job creation in Nigeria.
Speaking during the finale, the Group Head, Retail and SME Banking, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, said the competition was to encourage more youths with clear entrepreneurial intentions to expand or start profitable ventures.
“The grants are not a loan and we want the money to be directed towards profitable ventures. First, you must learn that making mistakes is part of the business. It is important to constantly think about the challenges you will face. Put the same energy you all have displayed in preparing for this contest in your businesses as you face your post-service year ahead.
“We started Corpreneurship in 2019, with a launch in Lagos and in three other states which included Edo, Ogun, and Abuja. So, today we have expanded it to four locations, and it has been hugely successful.”
Speaking further, he explained that the Bank will sustain the program in order to achieve a record impact on job creation.
He said: “This is a program 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.”
On expectations from the winners, Akinmade said: “Our expectations are two folds: that they manage the money well such that at the end of the year in addition to the N500,000, N300,000, N200,000 that they won today, they will double it.
“Second, we want people, who at the end of the year, can become employers of labor. This is our first step towards reducing unemployment in the country. It is a small step but a big one and so we expect them to be able to say I have two, three people working with me,” he said.