The YESGrant is an entrepreneurial programme for young business owners in the agricultural, Creative and ICT sectors of the country.
In an attempt to tackle this head on, The Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) launched a flagship Entrepreneurship Programme, the Young Entrepreneurs & Students Grant Scheme – YESGrant which was launched in March 2016. The YESGrant focussed on the Agricultural sector, the Creative Industry and the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
On the 23rd of December, 2016, after a rigorous and transparent review process conducted by an independent body, the NYPF awarded grants to 35 young entrepreneurs, out of the tens of thousands who applied for the grant.
The award ceremony was held at the prestigious Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Lagos and was attended by major industry players, top management staff of the key sponsor Heritage Bank, the NYPF YESGrant Brand Ambassador – Stephanie Okereke-Linus and all regional heads of NYPF.
In his remarks, Moses Siloko Siasia the Chairman/Founder of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum said the idea of the Grant was born out of the desperation of young Nigerians to build businesses in an economy fraught with a seemingly endless onslaught of challenges.
Mr Siasia added that our society does not encourage young talents and innovations, highlighting that the country is yet to tap up to 5% of its youthful resource. He subsequently urged all stakeholders to see youth growth as a priority for National development.
Mr. Siasia appealed to the beneficiaries to see this opportunity as a stepping stone to their business growth and said the NYPF has taken the lead to promote the culture of self-reliance of which this initiative is the first of its kind from a youth based organisation.
Mr Siasia, thanked the Heritage Bank for their partnership and continuous encouragement to SME Growth in Nigeria, he also said that it is only Heritage Bank that agreed to partner with NYPF on this scheme after they have been turned down by other potential sponsors and appealed to all young people in the country to see the bank as their wealth partner.
The Heritage Bank Head of SME Mrs. Ori Ogba, who represented the Managing Director Mr. Ifie Sekibo, confirmed that Heritage Bank will provide the 35 successful entrepreneurs with guidance on fund management.
Mrs Ogba outlined that the bank supported this initiative because of its belief in the Youth of Nigeria, who make up to 80 percent of the country’s population. Mrs Ogba further highlighted that Heritage Bank was impressed with the nature in which talents were sought out for, the rigorous selection process and the integrity with which the overall scheme was delivered.
Lastly, Mrs Ogba highlighted her satisfaction in the long term sustainability of this initiative, expressing that “We will not support something that will not stand the test of time”.
YESGrant Brand Ambassador Stephanie Okereke-Linus congratulated the winners of the Grants and praised Heritage Bank for its care for young people. She said some banks shy away from helping startups, adding that they should emulate Heritage Bank. She advised the beneficiaries to put the money received to good use.
30-year-old Paul Okoroafor owner of Santa Paulo Delakusa one of the NYPF YESGrant beneficiaries who received the sum of N2 million said the fund will be used for full oil palm production. He expressed gratitude to the NYPF for giving hope to them. He buttressed that “with this gesture, we now know that something good is coming out of Nigeria”.
The Nigerian Young Professionals Forum will re-open the second phase of the scheme in March 2017.