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The more challenged our economy is, the more people would find a way, Fasuyi

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Tobi Fasuyi

Tobi Fasuyi

Tobi Fasuyi is the brand Ambassador for Chivas Nigeria.In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, she talks about the process of picking the winner for The Venture Nigeria and how social entrepreneurship can help revamp the economy.

How intense was the selection for the final three contestants considering there were so many good entries this year?
It was intense, rigorous and very thorough. We had a press conference to announce it and we also opened up a portal for business submissions and people submitted their business ideas. We further had recruitment events where we met with people one on one and talked to them about The Venture, what it entails and why they should be a part of it. After closing the entries we had to filter through and come up with the top five businesses with the best social impact. The businesses had to show signs that they could be profitable and have a purpose at the same time.

When we trimmed down to five, we invited them over to a boot camp and talked them through the process, told them what to expect, helped them compress the speeches and we had them pitch after which we picked the top three.

During the selection process, did gender issue factor into the final decision-making process?
Absolutely not, it was strictly about the businesses, the social impacts they would have, how much good they would do in the long run. We are seeking not just for entrepreneurs but for social entrepreneurs that would make profit and also serve a purpose. Simply put, it is profit with purpose. It had nothing to do with gender.

What is the winner here in Nigeria going to enjoy?
She would get the chance to compete on a global stage and stands the chance to win a share of a million dollars, which I believe is huge.

What is the significance of the Chivas Icon?
The Chivas Icon is the pinnacle of our range in the world. We believe here that success is a joint venture and tastes better when shared, so we are simply putting our money where our mouth is. We used this to get people to share their own success with the winners. We brought in the Icon, which costs over a million Naira and used it to organise different events where we got high net worth individuals together, talked to them about The Venture, talked to them about the product and tried to get them to bid for it or contribute to it. We just wanted them to be part of it and so when you see these businesses take home money, it was got from people who embraced the idea and bought into it. We hope the winner, Chioma shares her success with others when she wins a part of the million dollars so that it doesn’t end there.

Did you partner with any other company or organisation in The Venture?
Worldwide, it is strictly Chivas but here in Nigeria, we partnered with the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) to help us get the start ups and filter through them. They are a lot more connected with this tribe of entrepreneurs and it’s a lot more authentic from that point of view. One of the judges at the final was from the EDC.

What do the runner ups get?
Everyone is a winner in my opinion and I’m not just saying that. Businesses that made it to the boot camp were taught so many things about themselves, their businesses, how to pitch properly and so on. They are going to leave with that valuable knowledge that a lot of people would never get to experience. They also networked and met a lot of people even though everyone got some cash reward.

In your opinion, is the EDC doing enough to expose social entrepreneurs in Nigeria to bigger opportunities such as this?
I believe they are and that is why we partnered with them. If you are looking to start or expand a business, you can go there to be coached and mentored properly.

Do you think the startup that won can compete favourably on the global stage?
Absolutely. The business is amazing, it is scalable and has a defining social impact, which are all the criteria needed to win. Before the winner was picked, we asked ourselves, “If she wins this money is her business scalable? Her business currently employs 10 people, with the money, can the business employ 20 and later, 100?” We believe completely that she can win the global event.

What is the difference between this year’s competition and last year’s?
This year, we have taken it a step further, it’s bigger and better and I can confidently say that we learnt from last year. Last year, just one person went home with cash reward but this year, all three were financially compensated. This is still a platform to discover, inspire and reward social entrepreneurs and that is how it will always be. We had over 200 entries this year, far more than last year and this tells us that we are getting better and getting it right.

How sustainable is The Venture, can it stand the test of time?
More than ever, I am convinced it can be sustained. The more challenged our economy is, the more people would find a way to do things better, the more entrepreneurs would rise up and take charge. Our economy is very challenged and this is why we are backing these businesses, because it is not easy to think of a business idea, more so, one with a purpose.There are people who see what we are doing and identify with it and are encouraging us and helping us help others win the right way.


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Tobi Fasuyi

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