Winners have emerged in the Access Bank Plc organised ‘Womenprenuer Pitch A-ton 2019’ with a total of N8 million given to the top three finalists.
At the event which held in Lagos State, Cotton Loops’ Chief Executive Officer, Bolulope Adebiyi, beat 49 other contenders to win the N5 Million first place price. This was just as the CEO of Physiocraft Allied Health Service, Tinuade Olanrewaju and CEO Learntor Limited, Mercy Igbafe, emerged as second and third to win the N3 Million and N1 Million first runner up and second runner up prices respectively.
Speaking with THISDAY, an elated Adebiyi attributed her victory to God and thanked her contemporaries for helping her out during the exercise
She revealed that the grant received would facilitate her company’s growth to the “globally space and likewise make our product affordable.
“Cotton Loops is an ethical black and white fashion lifestyle brand. We design and create black and white fashion globally. We make black and white high-street clothes, casual and cooperate clothes.
“I sincerely thank Access Bank and IFC for this. We are going to use this fund to expand our factory.
“Within the next six weeks, we are expanding to Dakar, Nairobi, Ghana and the United Kingdom. So, we are going to expand it, and make the clothing more affordable, even here in Nigeria.
“We are also an ethical brand, which means, we up-circle all of our production risk, and we give to the local women in the market for their children to crawl on and sleep on due to the dirty environment.”
Also speaking, the second runner-up, described her victory as mind-blowing. According to the CEO of Learntor, “it was mind-blowing to have emerged as part of the winners,” adding that, “I am so humbled for this experience, it is life changing. Access Bank has changed our lives.”
“There is potential here in Africa but our women lack the right visibility due to digital skills gap. Hence with this fund, Learntor can do more to digitally up-skill women, empower them, so they can give their businesses digital visibilities even in the international community.”
Speaking to THISDAY, the Coordinator, Access Bank Womenpreneur Pitch-A-Ton 2019, Ayona Trimnell, said the initiative was part of the bank’s commitment to build women capacity in business.
According to Trimnell, “Access Bank is a leading financial institution for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Hence we create programmes not only to empower them, but to enable them and give them better access to finance and business knowledge.
“Before today, we put out a call to women entrepreneurs who has been in business for about minimum of a year, to send us their business ideas by applying for this program. And we got 36,000 applicants from all over the country.
“We careful narrowed them down from that number to 500, and to 50. And for the 50 women, in collaboration with IFC, we took them through 14 weeks intensive entrepreneural training. And they were awarded with a Mini-MBA, from the IFC.
“The whole program is really about empowering and encouraging women and we are hopeful that we would continue to do this every year,” she added.