In a spectacular event held in, December, 2023, Wema Bank, in partnership with the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) and the Mastercard Foundation, bestowed cash rewards totaling N2,500,000 upon five exceptional women entrepreneurs. The awards marked the pinnacle of success for participants in the transformative Transforming Nigerian Youths program.
From the outset, the Transforming Nigerian Youths program, launched on August 7, 2023, captured the hearts and ambitions of aspiring women entrepreneurs across Nigeria. The response was resounding, with 33,957 entries flooding in, ultimately narrowing down to 24,514 active women participants. The training and mentorship program, currently engaging 4,806 individuals, has been nothing short of a beacon of hope for those aspiring to make a mark in the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.
Tunde Mabawonku, the Executive Director of Retail and Digital Business at Wema Bank, set the tone for the evening by highlighting the program’s overarching goal: “It’s all about impact and the private sector; NGOs have a role to play beyond government doings. It’s our role to partner with good stakeholders to create value.” Mabawonku’s words echoed the sentiment of a concerted effort toward sustainable impact.
The impact of the Transforming Nigerian Youths program was brought to life through the words of Nneka Okekearu, Director of the Enterprise Development Center. “Our hope is that one woman at a time, we’ll change the world,” she declared passionately. She emphasized the power of transformative education in altering mindsets, stating, “The courses we have put in place will change that mindset because once you see that business in the right light, the way it runs changes. We are creating enablers; we have transformed you so you can be in a position to transform others.”
Ayodele Olojede, Divisional Head of Retail and SME, delved into the comprehensive support system provided by Wema Bank. “Our women support isn’t only there; we have our loan program paired with free healthcare, and in 2024, we will see all the progress amplified.” Olojede highlighted the significant gap in the growth of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, noting, “In Nigeria, 40% of the population are women entrepreneurs; however, the growth isn’t commensurating with the numbers. So we are here to help make the work we put in count and have results, and we partner with the best in organizations like EDC and Mastercard.”
As the audience hung on every word, the ceremony reached its pinnacle with the announcement of the N500,000 grants awarded to five outstanding women entrepreneurs. Peace Edwins, Hibaatullahi Adeniyi, Pamibolo Patience Bala, Dorathy Mbala Onya, and Loveth Ugwu took center stage, embodying the resilience, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit that the Transforming Nigerian Youths program seeks to cultivate.
The emotional resonance of the moment was captured through candid expressions of gratitude and elation from the awardees. Dorathy Onya, overwhelmed with emotion, expressed, “This grant is not just money; it’s a symbol of belief and encouragement. Wema Bank saw potential in me, and this grant will propel my business to new heights.”
Hibaatullahi Adeniyi echoed this sentiment, saying, “I never imagined that my efforts would be recognized in such a grand manner. This grant is a game-changer for me and my business aspirations.”
The Transforming Nigerian Youths program award ceremony, a true testament to the collaborative efforts of Wema Bank, EDC, Pan Atlantic University, and the Mastercard Foundation, concluded on a high note. The grants presented to these five women are not just financial investments; they are seeds planted in the fertile soil of ambition, ready to flourish into thriving enterprises.
As the event concluded, Tunde Mabawonku reaffirmed Wema Bank’s dedication: “This is not where it ends; we are with you all the way, and we have created resources to help us sustain your success.” The transformative journey of these women, catalyzed by the Transforming Nigerian Youths program, is set to resonate beyond the ceremony, inspiring a new wave of empowered entrepreneurs across Nigeria.