By Olawunmi Ashafa
Lagos – Heritage Bank Plc on Sunday said it has intensified its support to young entrepreneurs with grant of N50million under the Young Entrepreneurs & Students Grant Scheme (YESGrant).
The bank said in a statement signed by the Divisional Head, Corporate Communications, Mr Fela Ibidapo that the grant was in partnership with the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF).
According to the bank, the grant is also as part of efforts to bring the economy out of recession.
The bank said the grant was awarded to about 35 young entrepreneurs from agricultural, creative industry and the information & communication technology (ICT) sectors after a rigorous and transparent review process.
It said that the process was conducted by an independent body, out of the tens of thousands who applied for the grant.
The statement quoted the Managing Director, Mr Ifie Sekibo while speaking at the award ceremony that the 35 successful entrepreneurs would be provided with the required guidance on fund management as individual beneficiaries would get at most N2million each.
Sekibo, represented by the Divisional Head, Retail and SME, Mrs Ori Ogba said that the bank supported the initiative because of its belief in Nigerian youths, who make up about 80 per cent of the country’s population.
She explained 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.
Ogba expressed her satisfaction in the long term sustainability of the initiative, stating, “We will not support something that will not stand the test of time.”
In his remarks, Mr Moses Siasia, the Chairman and Founder of the NYPF 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.
He explained that the society does not encourage young talents and innovations, while stating that the country is yet to tap up to 5per cent of its youthful resource.
He called on all stakeholders to see youth growth as a priority for National development.
Siasia commended Heritage Bank for its unflinching support to SME growth in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, NYPF’s YESGrant Brand Ambassador Mrs Stephanie Okereke-Linus congratulated the winners of the grants and praised the bank for its commitment to young people.
She advised other banks to emulate Heritage Bank, while seeking beneficiaries to put the money received to good use.
A 30-year-old, Mr Paul Okoroafor, owner of Santa Paulo Delakusa, one of the beneficiaries who received the sum of N2 million said the fund would be used for full oil palm production.
He expressed gratitude to the NYPF and Heritage Bank for giving hope to them.
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