234Finance Bridges Gap with Mentor-matchup Challenge

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L-r: Founder of Ekete, Favour Ugu; Founder of Nicnax Granola, Ejiro Jakpa; Managing Partner, 234Finance, Mrs Ezinne Nwazulu and General Manager, Seedspace, Alessia Balducci, at th event.

In a bid to address unemployment challenge in Nigeria and facilitate skills among youths, 234Finance has ushered a fresh perspective on entrepreneurship by leading the charge with Mentor Matchup Challenge 2.0.

234Finance.com is an online platform that promotes African entrepreneurship by bridging the gap between investors and early stage start-ups in Africa’s emerging market.

The event which took place recently in Lagos gathered established and emerging entrepreneurs or representatives from their start-ups.

Managing Partner, 234Finance, Ezinne Nwazulu, succinctly explains; “We put together the Mentor Matchup Challenge 2.0 because there is a huge knowledge gap between millennials and the generation before us.

“There is an urgent need for the two groups to interact, engage and learn from each other. Knowledge they say is power. The Mentor Matchup Challenge 2.0 bridges the knowledge-gap young Africans lack access to, for practical solutions to the challenges they face in running businesses”, she noted

The Mentor-matchup Challenge 2.0, came just in time to coincide with the end of the year prep and goal setting for the new year. The event was also spaced into a trifecta of interactive sessions that proved to be both informative and fostered practical learning.

The event started out with ‘Growing a Global Brand in Africa’s Emerging Market’, a panel discussion moderated by the incomparable communication guru Yasmin Ocansey; her expertise cuts across the communications spectrum- including broadcast journalism in both radio and television.

The panel featured CEO of Orìkí, a global agri-beauty brand, Joycee Awosika; Financier and Head of Moneda, Ejike Ugwu; Fitness Professional and Founder of Shredder Gang, Bunmi George, and Nigerian Businessman and the CEO of the Zebra Group, Buffy Okeke-Ojiudu.

As the conversations swayed among the panelists, it examined the role of an entrepreneur in shaping the outcomes of their startup or brand’s future and its importance of exploring emerging trends in the global economic landscape, while being equipped with the right team to build a sustainable venture.

The second session was the Mentor-matchup Challenge and attendees were distributed according to the following sectors; Media and Entertainment, Financial Services/Fintech, Agribusiness, E-Commerce and Energy.

They were seated in the round with an assigned mentor sharing tips and responding to niggling business challenges.
A mentee was nominated from each sector to summarise learnings from the mini-sessions. The icing on the cake was having investors sit in for these sessions and share unfiltered knowledge based on their practical experiences.

Among the investors present were MD/CEO Nepal Oil & Gas Services, Ngozi Ekeoma; Managing Partner OUI Capital, Olu Oyinsan; Chairman, Tetrazzini Foods Limited, Prince Okonkwo and CEO, Properis Holdings, Kayode Fadahunsi.

The funding expert, Ifedayo Durosimi – Etti facilitated an inspiring talk- Accessing Grants For African Startup, which happens to be the title of her book that an attendee was lucky to win by answering a riddle session.

The final part of the trifecta was the core purpose of all registered applicants in attendance. One pitch after another, the start-ups were tasked with sometimes-grueling questions from both judges and investors seated.
The judges in attendance included CEO, Abile Advisory, Joshua Okorie; Head, Meristem Capital, Senami Johnson; CEO, BPI Advisory, Deji Agboage, and General Manager, Seedspace, Alessia Balducci.

The pitching brought out the competitiveness in the attendees, while most did okay, others excelled and were announced top six.

Alessia Balducci and Alex Ekeoma, Director of Geo Travel and Tours took the stage to announce by virtue of the judges analysis, the top two pitches.

Startups, Ekete and Nic Nax, won $2,500 each equity-free grants, courtesy of Geo Travel and Tours and Nepal Oil & Gas Services Ltd.

The riddle sessions also resulted to multiple winners. Other rewards during the event were two spa sessions from Orìkí Group and a brand new laptop from Abrott Technologies.

The Mentor-matchup Challenge 2.0 sired from 234Finance’s mandate to promote African entrepreneurship, which was certainly evident in the caliber of guests that participated.

The event provided a rare and valuable opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to build relationships with businesspersons at the top of their game, free of charge.