Inside Sterling Bank’s Star-studded ‘The Pitch’

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Yinka Olatunbosun

A web series on budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria is fast dominating the cyberspace. Titled, “The Pitch Nigeria’’, the show is an initiative of Sterling Bank to promote and nurture bankable business ideas using a web series as the platform. The Pitch Nigeria shares no semblance with the popular America series of the same title which focuses on the dynamics of securing new clients in the modern advertising spectrum.

Hosted by a former model and consummate compere, Olowu Bardia Adebola popularly known as Illrymz, the first episode in the series’ first season gives a background to the plot of this reality drama series.

“Our crude makes us one of the most oil-rich in the world and Africa’s largest economy,’’ Illrymz began in the opening statement to the series. “However, the country still lacks basic infrastructure, a factor that can make doing business difficult.

“The entrepreneurial spirit in Nigeria is rated as one of the fastest growing globally. Sterling bank recognises this and is giving budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their ideas, convince the judges and get their critical capital investment to kick start their business”.

The ‘Pitch Nigeria’ brings attention to the small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria’s economy and their drive to solving problems and creating wealth. To this end, a call for participants was made and 1000 participants enrolled for theshow powered by SME Toolkit Challenge to develop and strengthen the entrepreneurial and managerial capabilities of entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

Out of these, the best 200 pitches were selected and these lot made the first episode with an individual task of making a one-minute pitch to convince the judges at the first stage of selection.50 of them are invited for a three-day boot camp as part of the Sterling Bank “SME Academy’’.

After a final pitching session, three finalists will win N10m in funding and business support. Health, education, Agribusiness, Renewable Energy, Transportation, Fashion, Hospitality, ICT are the select areas for the prospective business owners.

Every episode has a unique title. The first episode titled, “Drones, Drugs and Duplexes’’ tapped from some of the pitches made by the participants who seemed quite anxious to convince the panel of judges made up of Chukie Edozien, a music artist known by the stage name Lynxx who is also a web designer and entrepreneur; Lola Falokun, Project Manager at the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Pan Atlantic University (PAU); Gbemi Olateru Olagbegi OAP and CEO, Gbemisoke Shoes and guest judges Olawale Anifowose Programme Director, EDC and Chinonso Okoye also from EDC.

The second episode is titled “Rabbits, Plastics and Farms’’ and is largely inspired by pitches from entrepreneurs who are looking for capital to start rabbit farms, recycling plants and the likes. From incredible to believable business ideas, the participants never cease to amuse the audience during the pitches.

Each episode is about 17minutes long with fast-paced scene changes and multiplicity of camera angles that enable a viewer to see from the back of the judges and their side views as they listen and make an appraisal of each participant.

Sometimes, it is really hard to fathom the disposition of the judges based on their facial expressions. But generally, they are convinced that most of the participants have interesting business ideas but not all of them are bankable. ‘The Pitch’ is a refreshing deviation from the popular trend of online comedy series.

Nigeria’s cyberspace is saturated with awkwardly funny clips that hardly teach any business or survival skills. With the ‘Pitch Nigeria’ web series on Youtube, many youths can learn from comments of the judges as well as the mistakes of some entrepreneurs to rethink their own business ideas and perhaps contribute their own quota to economic development.