ENTERPRISE54 – The Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) business plan competition has helped about 5,000 young entrepreneurs raise capital in the last five years. Established under the President Goodluck Jonathan government, the multi million naira business plan competition was borne out of the need to reduce youth unemployment and foster entrepreneurship development. Young
ENTERPRISE54 – The Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) business plan competition has helped about 5,000 young entrepreneurs raise capital in the last five years. Established under the President Goodluck Jonathan government, the multi million naira business plan competition was borne out of the need to reduce youth unemployment and foster entrepreneurship development.
Young entrepreneurs like Ola Abraham who after graduating from Journalism School applied for the business plan competition though with much scepticism. Though he knew little about fashion, he developed an idea for the fashion industry and the idea won the business plan competition. Ola was on his National Youth Service programme when he applied, he had to learn tailoring while on his NYSC programme. Today, he is a successful fashion entrepreneur who has created several employment opportunities for others in the process.
“I tried it and I was selected. It was a long process though. We did the first stage, second stage, the process took longer after subsidy strike. The strike made it more difficult,” CEO of Owanbe Clothing Ola Abraham said.
“I doubted it at first. I don’t like Jonathan. I thought YouWIN was one of their corrupt escapades but I have one philosophy; ‘there is no harm in trying.’ Thankfully, it wasn’t a scam.”
While in tertiary institution as a journalism undergraduate, the young man was editing, writing assignments for students and doing printing jobs to earn a living. He only began acquiring sowing skills post-application for the grant.
“I had not started the business before YouWin. I even told them that I do not know how to sow to save my life. I honestly told them I am still an undergraduate because the questions they bombarded me with during the screening were enormous. So sincerity pays. Even Dangote did not know how to mix cement before he started mixing cement. Later I discovered the skill was essential so I learn it. Everything I am wearing I made it.”
Explaining the procedure it took him from apply to getting the fund, it seems a bit easy at the start but as the process got realistic it became hectic.
“After the initial online registration, the first stage comes up. It entails questions about your business. After that they call you for a training at the Pan Atlantic University then the second stage follows. If you are selected that means you are a winner. After the second stage all information provided by participants regarding their businesses are cross-checked for validation. Then beneficiaries would be given their financial grants bit by bit. I had two monitors, one Nigeria the other a foreigner. They check if the money is used for what you indicated in your business plan. Everybody did not win ten million, but the grants are between 1 million and 10 million. I won’t disclose mine though,” he says with a wide grin.
However, the problem of business in Nigeria hasn’t always been about the startup capital and the startup phase only. With the high level of infrastructural underdevelopment, talent dearth in the market and unavailability of market data, running and sustaining a business in the country is equally challenging. According to reports, Nigeria is one of the most difficult places to do business in the world.
“YouWin gave me a huge sum of money, but to sustain the business I do other things. Nigeria is a tough place to do business and this my early years it is very difficult. I do many other things that pays the bill of this place so that I will not crash.” Ola said.
“I have had to lay off my employees. Presently I have a staff strength of 14. I have been doing this business for two years, I have retrench three times in which I sacked everyone except me. Then I employ again.”
Ola is a passionate young man with dreams who has benefitted from the YouWin business plan competition.
“It is a good step. It has helped a lot of people. It has helped me provide jobs. It has also given me sleepless nights.”