23 May 2008

Nigeria: The Entrepreneur TV Series Set to Lift Micro-Business

Lagos — For young Nigerian micro-entrepreneurs with innovative ideas but with little or no access to the required funds, there is renewed hope.

The Entrepreneur realty TV show is set to debut on national airwaves with the aim of providing opportunities for such Nigerian micro-entrepreneurs to access funding to start up or expand their existing businesses.

Unveiling the project at a media briefing in Lagos, Wednesday, the Producer of the TV Series, Mr. Goke Dokun, stated that the Series, which is to be broadcast over 13 weeks on national TV and syndicated to other networks, is designed to empower small business owners, promote entrepreneurship through investment in innovative social enterprises, educate people on numerous strategies of how to pitch a business idea and contribute to poverty alleviation in the society.

The project is being sponsored by Ecobank Nigeria Plc and Vitamalt Plc, with support from Growing Business Foundation, Financial Standard newspapers and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

On the modalities of programme, Dokun said that a minimum of 60 selected budding entrepreneurs will present their business ideas before a panel of four people, namely: the Chairman, the Advisor, the Business Angel and the Banker, which they must convince to secure the required funding.

Members of the panel, according to him, will question the candidates on their business ideas, based on viability, profitability, financial analysis, employment, etc. before giving their verdict. Also, as part of the assessment process, if selected, applicants will be required to provide projected profit and loss accounts in respect of the business.

According to Dokun, the board members will each get a fund portfolio in every episode with which they can invest from, at their discretion, and decide if the business is worth funding and how much. To access the fund, the candidate must convince the panel members.

Contestants can access up to N1 million at the discretion of the board.No educational qualification is required for prospective candidates as the TV Series is opened to all micro-entrepreneurs, from the Cobblers, Tailors/Fashion designers, IT professionals, Carpenters, Technicians, Bakers, Chefs, Feed production, Farming, Business Center Operators etc.

Head, Corporate Affairs of Ecobank, Mrs Yemi Aileen, noted that it was imperative for the sponsors not to restrict the programme to those with formal education, as brilliant ideas are not the exclusive preserves of the educated. "Every effort should be made to empower the young people in the society, otherwise they will turn out to become a menace to everyone," she stated.

Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Chief Dele Momodu, who is also one of the "Business Angels" for the programme, noted that money is not necessarily the most important requirement needed to start a business, citing his own personal experience.

"You may not have money but if you have an original idea and you are passionate about it, then you are bound to make it," he said. Present at the occasion were Dr (Mrs.) Doyin Abiola, who is also one of the "Business Angels" for the programme; Dr (Mrs.) Ndidi Edozien, founder of the Growing Business Foundation; Representative of Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, Director-General of SMEDAN, Mr. Levi, Managing Director/CEO of Financial Standards, amongst others.

To enter forthe contest, a candidate can get an application form from any branch of Ecobank or other designated outlets and submit the completed application form with N2,000 at any Ecobank Branch nationwide.

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