By Peter uzoho
No less than 2, 160 entrepreneurs in small and medium scale businessesacross the six geo-political zones in the countryÂ were empoweredÂ at the Accelerate Labs, an initiative of Future ProjectÂ and Microsoft Nigeria to support and grow their businesses.
The event took place in Lagos recently.
Launched in June last year, Accelerate Labs is a dynamic one-yearincubationÂ programmeÂ intended to empower entrepreneurs between theages of 18 and 35 through required technological resources, trainings,mentorship and seed funding required for them to build theirÂ businesses and contribute to the development of theÂ NigerianÂ economy.
In all,Â 300 participants with great business ideas were selected from eachzone split into two streams of 150 each and trained over a 12-weekÂ period using an 11 course curriculum of three divisions provided byÂ promoters of theÂ Future Project.
The classes were segmented as top sections/compulsory classes, SMEclinic, mentorship period, and research and practice, and only thoseÂ who attained 70 per cent attendance in all the classes were qualifiedÂ to pitch their business plans to investors for possible investment andÂ certificate collection on the demo days.
At each zonal demo day, three winners from each stream were rewardedÂ with one-year technology support: domain and website development, andÂ laptop computer each, while the winner and the first runners up gotÂ seed capital of N100, 000 and N50, 000 respectively, depending on theÂ zone.
Speaking at the South-west demo day in Lagos which marked the end ofÂ the programme,Â theÂ Chief Operating Officer, Future Project, BukolaÂ Adebakin, said the programme was aimed at getting young people toÂ start their own businesses while helping those that had alreadyÂ started to scale up their businesses.
Adebakin said: â€œAnd so far, the going for this year was to train 2,160 businesses and which we were able to reach across theÂ geo-political zones in the country. And we hope thatÂ in one year, each
of those businesses would have employed at least one person in theirbusiness and which means they are contributing their quota to solvingÂ the unemployment issue in Nigeria and contributing toÂ the growth of the countryâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP).â€
She noted that demoÂ earlierÂ took place in Abuja, Kaduna, Bauchi, EnuguÂ and Benin beforeÂ it finally berthedÂ Lagos where theÂ programme ended.
Also speaking, Philanthropies Lead, Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. OlusolaÂ Amusan, saidÂ hisÂ organisation supportedÂ the initiative because it aligned with the companyâ€™s global mission to empower everyÂ individual and organisation on the planet to achieve more.
He said: â€œSo in doing that, identifying entrepreneurs who needÂ supports in terms of business skills, we realised that talents andÂ skills are like the most needed resources that the entrepreneurs needÂ around here.
â€œFunding is very important but if they donâ€™t have skillÂ they wonâ€™t be able to move ahead. So thatâ€™s why for the past one yearÂ weâ€™re running this programme across Nigeria.â€