Despite the harsh business operating environment, Diamond Bank has reignited confidence in the Nigerian economy with the resolve to continually support its development using the micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for sustainable economic growth. In a practical demonstration of this, the bank in its Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) initiative, gave N15 million grant to five budding MSME operators who showed exceptional entrepreneurial skills and productive business ideas.
Each of the five BET winners, which spread across different sectors of the economy and the six geopolitical zones, received N3million to invest into their respective businesses.
These financial injections into their business by the Bank, is expected to help strengthen manpower, expand the product lines and create increased service and product values that would make the MSME’s competitive.
The Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, told stake holders,
Educationalist, analysts, media executives, investors and industry captains who witnessed the cheque presentation ceremony in Lagos that because of the economic headwinds, young entrepreneurs need all the support and mentorship that they could get to enable them stand firm and add the necessary value to the economy.
According to him, Diamond bank is very passionate about building these entrepreneurs because of the conviction that sustainable growth and development of any modern economy is hinged on a vibrant MSME sector.
He added that the quality of business ideas and the huge number of entries received by Bank, is a strong testament of business versatility among Nigerian youths, which to him, should be harnessed to grow and develop the economy.
He said:” we had over 5000,000 applications and after several screenings, were pruned to the final 15; this is just to show how creative Nigerians are. We decided to support small businesses because we know how difficult the business environment is, and it is the only way we can guarantee sustainable economic growth and development in this country”.
The BET, which started over five years ago, is a collaboration between Diamond Bank and the Enterprises Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University.
With the BET initiative, every year, the Bank trains 50 entrepreneurs in a six month development programmes at the Pan Atlantic University and gives investment grants to the five most outstanding with a strong mentorship programmes within the business year.
Speaking further Dozie noted that each year, the BET programme has become more and more exciting with diverse innovative ideas emerging, stressing that the business environment in Nigeria was a tough one and needed lots of commitment and support for one to succeed.
Although, the previous BET 4 edition focused on three sectors of the economy, the Season 5 expanded the sectors with the addition of fashion, agriculture, information and communication technology and renewable energy.
In this BET Season 5, Uchechi Arinze, Folarinyo Abiodun, Ayodeji Agboola, Emmanuel Okeidesan and Hauwa Bello emerged the winners.
Reiterating Dozie, Peter Bankole, Director, Enterprise Development Center, stated that it was another milestone that has been attained by the Bank because it means a new set of five winners will be joining the other 20 winners not forgetting the 50 entrepreneurs who were engaged in six months of intensive training.
A lot of banks screamed about supporting small business but none plays like the way Diamond Bank does. And BET is one of the many ways they ensure they support small businesses and that goes a long way in helping these entrepreneurs achieve their goals – Bankole stated.
One of the winners, Okeidesan said he was amazed to have won, because he was lucky to be a part of the final 15.
According to him, his first final presentation was a disaster but he was able to pull himself together at the second session.
He also thanked Diamond Bank and EDC for giving him and others the opportunity to learn and interact. Earlier, Ubong Effiong, a BET Season one winner, told the audience that the knowledge gained is invaluable as it continually guides one in running and managing the business.
BET goes beyond the money won. The knowledge gained and most importantly the relationship formed in the academy is very valuable, it cannot be quantified in monetary terms.