Determined to strengthen small businesses development, Diamond Bank Plc has rewarded five finalists of the seventh edition of its `Building Entrepreneurs Today with N15 million grant.
Uzoma Dozie, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said that the finalists were rewarded with three million each after six months of entrepreneurship training at Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.
Dozie said the BET programme, the bank’s flagship Corporate Sustainability project, was in partnership with the Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University.
He said the initiative had catered for more than 350 entrepreneurs since inception in 2011.
Dozie said the programme was aimed at inspiring, encouraging, mentoring and supporting budding entrepreneurs with basic skills required to build, grow and manage a business.
He stated that BET 7, themed: “Innovation and Social Impact”, was aimed at taking the programme beyond the classrooms by leveraging technology to share the experiences of the young entrepreneurs who have passed through the BET programme.
Peter Bankole, the Director of EDC, said that the centre had been a technical partner of the bank since inception of the BET programme seven years ago.
Bankole noted that EDC was responsible for the conceptualisation and implementation of the entire project from the selection of candidates till the final stages where the winners emerged.
He said: “Diamond Bank understands that the basic challenges of potential entrepreneurs do not end with funding and mentorship.”
Bankole said that the bank had gone further to train the entrepreneurs on the basics of growing, managing and sustaining a business as well as giving them access to grants in finance and candid advice.
He said: “Grooming 50 smart young business people every year would definitely contribute positively to the economy of the nation by spinning the wheel of a positive change.”
Also speaking, Chioma Afe, the Head, Corporate Communications, Diamond Bank, said that the bank had given out N105 million cash prizes to top five winners of BET in the last seven years.
Afe said that apart from the cash prizes,the bank had also helped in reducing unemployment in the nation by grooming strong businesses that create employment.
She said that the students of the programme not only gained from the lectures at EDC but also had opportunity to access grants from international bodies like the Women’s World Banking.
Afe said that they were also assigned relationship executives to provide special guidance and constant checks and counseling.
Giving guidelines to small business owners interested in participating in the soon-to-be launched BET Season eight, Afe said prospective candidates must have a viable business idea prior to the application date.
She stated that at the end of the initial screening, 50 shortlisted candidates would undergo a six months training programme at the Pan Atlantic University’s Entrepreneurial Development Centre.
According to her, the best 15 candidates will be selected to undergo a second phase of advisory services where they will be required to present their business models.
She stated that at the end of the process, the five participants who are adjudged to have the best plans will receive a grant of N3 million each from Diamond Bank to support their businesses.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that BET 7 winners were Ikenna Ubah, Tope Alake, Jumoke Dada, Bayo Ojelabi and Osagie Azeta.