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UK empowers 10 Nigeria entrepreneurs with grants, partnerships

(L-R) British Council country director Lucy Pearson, Deputy British high commissioner to Nigeria Laure Beaufils with a beneficiary of Nigeria Creative Enterprise Support Programme at the British Council office in Lagos

Not less than 10 Nigeria entrepreneurs in the fashion and film industries have been empowered with start-up grants, international partnerships and a UK tour through the Nigeria Creative Enterprise Support Programme.

The programme organised by the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office trained a total of 108 entrepreneurs between January and March 2019.

The programme was aimed at connecting entrepreneurs in the fashion and film industry to learn, share and collaborate, as well as stimulating UK-Nigeria Hub linkages.

After the training, 10 entrepreneurs each, emerged from the film and fashion categories. The entrepreneurs then pitched their business ideas before a panel of seasoned professionals in the industries who selected the best five entrepreneurs from each category on Saturday.

“It’s been an intense three months,” Country director of the British Council, Lucy Pearson, who was part of the panel said.

“They’ve gone through training, mentoring, internships and business skill incubation for these entrepreneurs.”

Giving her assessment of the entrepreneurs, Pearson said her expectations were exceeded.

“The creativity and originality of the ideas in Nigeria are great,” Pearson said.

“There is potential in Nigeria and we are happy about being able to unlock the potential.”

Another member of the panel, Afrinolly CEO, Jane Maduegbuna said, “The output is amazing. This is the British Council putting their money where the mouth is, they are not only training the upcoming ones, they also engaged the seasoned ones for fact-finding purposes.”

“There’s always a potential in the creative industry. We see young ones doing great things. I have seen a lot of potential and a lot of people are willing to invest in these (entrepreneurs).”

The winners of the pitches were awarded start-up grants of N950,000 each, while two entrepreneurs each from both categories got one thousand pounds for business investment.

Winners at the Nigeria Creative Enterprise Support Programme with Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria Laure Beaufils and British Council country director Lucy Pearson in Lagos

All 10 will continue to the business advisory component of the programme which offers training and mentoring activities from hub organisations in Nigeria.

Two of the entrepreneurs who won the highest votes for the People’s Choice Award through an online voting process will proceed to a UK tour hosted by UK fashion and film partners.

Speaking to The Guardian, the deputy British high commissioner to Nigeria Laure Beaufils said the programme is one of many ways the British government have supported emerging talents in Nigeria.

(L-R) British Council country director Lucy Pearson, Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria Laure Beaufils with a beneficiary of the Nigeria Creative Enterprise Support Programme in Lagos

She expressed optimism in the winners to develop businesses from their talents turning into businesses.

“This means we are going to see more Nigerians in the market with creativity, more jobs and a brand that’s going to get stronger for Nigeria,” Beaufils said.

The programme was a collaborative effort of four UK and Nigerian partners – Afrinolly (Nigeria) and Henley Business School (UK) for the film sector, The Assembly Innovation Hub and Fashion Foundry (Cultural Enterprise Office, UK).

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