As part of its culture of providing timely and affordable credit to assist youth in implementing their business ideas, Heritage Bank Plc. under the Young Entrepreneurs & Students Grant Scheme (YESGrant) has provided N50million in Grants to 35 entrepreneurs. In partnership with the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF), the Grant was awarded to about 35 young entrepreneurs from agricultural business, creative industry and the information & communication technology (ICT) sector after a rigorous and transparent review process conducted by an independent body, out of the tens of thousands who applied for the grant.
Speaking at the YESGrant award ceremony held at Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Lagos, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, who hinted that the nation’s economy has experienced severe down spiral, affirmed that the 35 successful entrepreneurs will be provided with the required guidance on fund management as individual beneficiaries would get at most N2million each. Sekibo, who was represented by the Divisional Head, Retail/SME, Mrs. Ori Ogba, stated that the bank supported this initiative because of its belief in Nigerian youth, who make up about 80 percent of the country’s population. She further explained that Heritage Bank was impressed with the nature in which talents were sought out, the rigorous selection process and the integrity with which the overall scheme was delivered. Ogba expressed her satisfaction in the long term sustainability of the initiative, stating, “We will not support something that will not stand the test of time.”
In his remarks, Mr. Moses Siasia, the Chairman/Founder of the NYPF said the idea of the Grant was born out of the desperation of young Nigerians to build businesses in an economy fraught with a seemingly endless onslaught of challenges. He explained that the society does not encourage young talents and innovations, while stating that the country is yet to tap up to 5 percent of its youthful resource. He called on all stakeholders to see youth growth as a priority for National development. Siasia commended Heritage Bank for its unflinching support for SME growth in Nigeria. According to him, Heritage Bank remains the only bank that had entered into partnership with NYPF on this scheme, after being turned down by other potential sponsors and appealed to all young people in the country to see the bank as their wealth partner.
NYPF’s YESGrant Brand Ambassador Mrs. Stephanie Okereke-Linus congratulated the winners of the Grants and praised Heritage Bank for its commitment to young people. She advised other banks to emulate Heritage Bank, while seeking beneficiaries to put the money received to good use. 30-year-old Paul Okoroafor owner of Santa Paulo Delakusa – one of the beneficiaries that received the sum of N2 million – said the fund will be used for full oil palm production. He expressed gratitude to the NYPF and Heritage Bank for giving hope to them.