From Jude Chinedu, Enugu 

No fewer than 60 young entrepreneurs from the Southeast region have benefitted from the first phase of the sustainable enterprise challenge initiative of the Entrepreneurial Development Initiative (ENDIP).

The initiative is funded by the British Council in partnership with King’s Trust International (formerly Prince’s Trust International, UK), and delivered by ENDIP.  

 The vision is to develop 10,000 sustainable enterprises capable of generating 30,000 jobs in Nigeria by the year 2030.  The novel initiative marks a significant milestone towards nurturing the next generation of business leaders.

The Sustainable Enterprise Challenge Programme, a pilot youth-focused, intensive four-week programme held in Enugu recently brought together a diverse group of budding entrepreneurs, including persons living with disabilities, to equip them with the essential skills needed to succeed in the competitive world of business. 

Through workshops, training sessions, and hands-on activities, participants sharpened their business acumen, developed vital entrepreneurial skills, and gained practical knowledge on areas such as business planning, pitching, employability and digital literacy.

One of the highlights of the initiative was the inclusive business pitch session where eight outstanding able and physically challenged participants keenly contested for the coveted award.  

Asogwa Patience, Victor Okereke, Victor Nwabueze, Ifi Njideka, Mary Chinedu-Nelson, ThankGod Onumalobi, Agbike Okereke and Madukife Onyinyechi, who emerged winners secured N250,000 seed funding each to kick-start their innovative business ideas. 

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Their exceptional presentations, evaluated by a panel of judges led by Prof Obinna Onodugo from the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, showcased the depth of talent and creativity nurtured by the programme.

Executive Director of ENDIP, Lilian Ovio, expressed pride in the participants’ dedication and passion, emphasizing the organization’s unwavering commitment to empowering youth and combating poverty through sustainable entrepreneurship.

She highlighted the transformative impact of the initiative, not only in enhancing business skills but also instilling a sense of resilience and determination among the young entrepreneurs as she strongly emphasised the significant role of enterprises as sustainable solutions to poverty reduction and wealth creation.

 Enugu State Manager of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Ebere Ijomah, commended the initiative for its role in empowering youth and reducing unemployment. 

He underscored the importance of equipping young entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage their businesses, thereby fostering sustainable growth and economic stability.

 ENDIP’s second phase project aims to further bolster the sustainability and success of small and medium-sized enterprises through a comprehensive mentorship programme.

 Through initiatives like the Sustainable Enterprise Challenge, the organization is paving the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for aspiring entrepreneurs across the South East of Nigeria.