To enhance entrepreneurship among Nigerians, the Gbenga Aiyeremi Foundation (GAF) has unveiled plans to support 100 worthy micro businesses in the country with N100, 000 grant each for the beneficiaries.
Speaking on the initiative, the founder of GAF, Mr. Gbenga Aiyeremi said as an entrepreneur who had bootstrapped many startups, nothing stresses an operators more than the lack of fund.
“Being our maiden edition, our budget for now can only support a provision of N100,000 for 100 entrepreneurs. We are focusing on micro businesses, where we believe that such amount will have the most impact. We hope to make this a yearly support for the ecosystem. I strongly believe, the success of this first edition will help attract more funds to support more entrepreneurs.”
He disclosed that the scheme is part of activities to mark his 40th birthday and years of working in the entrepreneurship space.
Those who would benefit from the initiative, he said include operators in branding, data science, graphics design, digital entrepreneurship, business analysis, strategic HR analytics and frontend web development.
” I am starting the Gbenga Aiyeremi Foundation (www.gaf.ng) with the sole purpose of supporting micro entrepreneurs in form of grant, skill acquisition and mentorship. All my adult years, I have always been an Entrepreneur. So, it has always been business for me. Hence it is a no brainer that I want to dedicate the rest of my life to God and supporting thousands of entrepreneurs to become successful, ” he said.
According to him, contrary to the popular belief that the biggest challenge facing the Small Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) is finance, experience had shown that mentorship is as germane and important as finance to the success of small businesses.
He said: ” I have seen businesses come and go. These are start-up founders that were able to secure seed fund from mostly family and friends and after six months into operations, you see them winding up. Not because they do not have a brilliant business idea but because they lacked the required skill sets. So mentorship is a critical component and we will be providing this extensively so as to support the ecosystem.”
How are you going to pick would be beneficiary of the funding support?
On how beneficiaries of the fund would be picked, he said:” We have outsourced the selection processes to a foremost recruitment firm in Nigeria. The main criterion is to look out for applicants that are able to demonstrate convincingly how N100, 000 will transform their micro businesses. We will also be looking at the capabilities of the business owner. We cannot afford to get it wrong in this regard because the future of the foundation depends on the testimonials and the success stories of the successful applicants in this maiden edition. ”
Aiyeremi lamented the unfriendly business environment in country, adding that Nigeria occupying 131st position out 190 countries ranked for ease of doing business says it all.
He urged the government to pay attention to the needs of the SME ecosystem as small business sector is responsible for most of the economic success achieved by the developed nations of the world.
“We need government interventions, in terms of policies that will directly be in favour of the sector. You can imagine running a company for over five years doing well over a 100 million naira yearly and yet we cannot access any tangible unsecured loan. The truth is that you either generate revenue for business survival or the business dies . That is why we see businesses dying daily.”
” It takes more than skills to survive in the unfriendly business environment of the country. If you are running a profitable business, then you are lucky.
Aiyeremi who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Workbay Technology, Nigeria and Canada, added that aspiring entrepreneurs need focus and tenacity of purpose to survive in Nigerian environment.
“The journey to success is not a straight and smooth one. Your resolve will be tested on all fronts, so you must keep your eye on the ball and persistently determined to achieve that end goal, ” he said.