In line with the determination to contribute its quota to the development of small scale businesses and realisation of sustainable development goals in Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, Junior chamber International (JCI), Nigeria, has concluded plans to stage an entrepreneurial challenge for the youths. The entrepreneurial challenge, which is put together with support from a global accountancy body, Association of Chartered Certified accountants (ACCA) and Microsoft, is targeted at individuals and businesses that can create economic prosperity, generating employment and adding value to customers. Speaking at a press briefing to unveil the maiden edition of the contest, the president of JCI, Nigeria Mr Tunji Oyeyemi said the Organisation decision to initiate such challenge was borne out of the need to support government especially in line with its effort to diversify the economy and assist it in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals as contained in the UN Charter. He added that with the growing level of unemployment in the country as revealed in the data provided by National Bureau Statistics, there was need to develop the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) to create jobs hence the need for the birth of the program. The program which is considered open to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Start-ups, Artisans, Students as well as Graduates commenced June 12, 2016 with entries billed to end by August 15, 2016.
On his part, the representative of ACCA, Mr Ayoola Ademoye who explained the role of ACCA said the body is excited to be part of the program stressing that such initiative is bound to reduce unemployment in the country. According to him, ACCA is ready and willing to offer financial supports for the take-off of the program.
He said” In line with the vision of the organisation, ACCA, a global professional accountancy body, we are ready to offer financial supports for the take-off of the entrepreneurial challenge. We believe as the initiative goes on, there will be a lot of innovative ideas. We believe it is the first of its kind in Nigeria and a lot of ideas will come out of this to solve the problems of employments in Nigeria”.
Speaking on the modalities and selection process for the challenge, the Team Lead of JCI, Nigeria Entrepreneur Challenge, Sherif Ibrahim, stated that Small Scale Businesses with less than two years were eligible to participate adding that all applications would be subjected to scrutiny by panel of technocrats to determine the best three.
He said “We are targeting Small and Medium Scale Businesses that have been in existence in less than two years. We are looking for people that have ideas but are yet to start their own business. We are looking at students and graduates that intend to start their own businesses coupled with artisans that can contribute to the economy. In developed economies, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises are the engine of growth and development. We want Nigeria to take this path. That informs the reason why we are kick-starting this challenge. With respect to the process of selection, we will be taking as many applicants as possible. We are expecting everybody to come up with the idea but however the ideas have to be compelling and commercialised. If you have a business, you must have a paying customer. As someone who wants to participate, all you need to do is to visit a dedicated website, www.jcin.ng/entrepreneurchallenge to apply. Each applicant is expected to submit a not-more-than-250-words written Pitch or 2-minute video Pitch of their business ideas. The Pitch must be uploaded on Microsoft one-drive. The link must be pasted in the application form. We have panel of judges that would review the applications by determining which of them can create most impact on the economy. Then, 100 applicants will be selected to move to the second round. The lucky 100 selected will be asked to create business plan built around the idea earlier pitched. From then on, the numbers will be pruned down to 10 where you will have them present business pitch in the presence of investors and judges to take up the idea. Out of the ten, three persons will be picked as eventual winners receiving business grants, listed in a one-year mentorship program and 3-year Microsoft bizSpark subscription worth $120,000. Participation is not limited to certain group of people or businesses. It is open to all businesses in all sectors of the economy”.
While appreciating the support offered by ACCA and Microsoft, Oyeyemi said the aim of JCI with regards to the challenge was to do its best in finding solutions to the alarming rate of unemployment which was one major concern raised by many Nigerians in the survey conducted by the organisation.
He said” We want to say thank you to ACCA and Microsoft for being willing partners to assist in this initiative. I am sure our members are expecting that this initiative will be restricted to members but we believe it is an opportunity to contribute to the country’s economy. That is the reason why we have opened the opportunity to all Nigerians. As long as you have business ideas and the will to put your ideas into use, you are welcome. For us, it is a good thing as a youth based organisation. What we stand to do is to open up all sectors and community to proffer sustainable solutions. One of this is using the ACCA, other partners with our own strength to find solutions to all the problems in Nigeria and support government effort towards diversification.
Amusan Olusola, representative of Microsoft who commented on the initiative said the technology company is indeed happy to be part of this considering the fact that the program aligns closely with its mission which in the long run could help to create opportunities.
He said” You know that businesses require cash to get started. We are in an age of information technology but we have also found out that a lot of young businesses do not have the financial wherewithal to invest in IT infrastructure. On that basis, we have gladly looked at the opportunity of rewarding three eventual winners by providing business pack support software that will be useful in the next three years. We believe that if you increase the technology infrastructure of your business, it has a way of exponentially growing the business and make it visible to the target market. That is what we are bringing to the table and we hope that as they graduate to become big businesses, we may acquire them just as Linkedln was acquired”.