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Odiete, Yammama on creative lane for Enterprise Challenge



IT was the ‘Enterprise Challenge’, an online competition organised by the British Council, in partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airways and Zenith Bank, that discovered and brought the creativity of Eseoghene Ise Odiete and Nasir Yammama to limelight.

   The duo won the maiden edition of the competition, which seeks to give young, brilliant entrepreneurial minds opportunity to further develop their skills and bring their innovative ideas to the fore for possible future development.

   A total of 10 finalists, made up of Nigerians based at home and in the Diaspora, battled for the top two spots in June last year, from which Odiete and Yammama emerged tops. As part of the prizes and opportunity attached to the challenge, the duo have since had the opportunity to meet with and be mentored by one of UK’s foremost entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson, who is chairman of the Virgin Group.

   Only recently, the first ever-young entrepreneurs on the platform of ‘Enterprise Challenge’ were unveiled at the Australia Room of Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, where the partners presented a cash prize of N1.5million each to them.


THE 25 year-old award winning female fashion entrepreneur and the brain behind Hesey Designs, Odiete, went home with a cheque of N1.5m for her ingenuity with African accessories. She is an indigene of Delta State.

   Narrating her experience, the Mass Communication graduate of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, said the competition was an all round complete challenge.

   “We had opportunity to be mentored by great millionaire and business expert. We had a mini-MBA class at the Branson Centre in South Africa, and then, we have fund to support our business, it is an all round thing, we don’t have any reason to say we were trained, but no money to start off, or, we have money, but lack ideas to work with. The money will impact positively on my business. I now have funds to expand and equally, I have a better understanding of how to run business. So, overall, this will make my business more successful,” she revealed. 

   From mass communication to fashion designing, how did the transition come? 

   She said, “it is God. I don’t know what happened, but I know that back in school, I already had a flair for fashion and I wanted to do something that would promote Africa. Back then, when my school mates would say, I travelled abroad and bought this dress in the UK, I always told them, ‘you can find this kind of thing in Tejuoso Market. So, I already had this consciousness in me that it was deliberate waste of time for people to think they can only get better quality abroad, when they can here. I had this dream of making made in Nigeria stuffs that can actually compete with international goods.” 

   What kind of products do you create? 

   “I make bags and shoes with ankara, leather and any sort of materials. I have four employees. Note too, that my background in communication is actually helping me in my business presentation. Sometimes, I will be invited to make an impromptu speech as a young entrepreneur in conferences and seminar so all these experience actually helped,” she said.

   Now you are a millionaire? 

   “I will invest it in my business, buy machines and get a bigger space, you see, your creativity can be beautiful, but the finishing is of great importance. I’m trying to make it compete with a Gucci bag, the finishing has to be better than a Gucci bag and is machines that actually do that. The artisans are good but they have better machines than us, so I want to buy that kind of machine they use and make my work as good as thei,” the lady said.

   Do you have words for graduates out there? 

   She confessed, “graduates don’t wait for government to create jobs, start something with your hands and maximise opportunities provided by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) through Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED). Is a great opportunity, so, train in SAED and start something no matter how little. I was a regular person until recently when the ‘Enterprise Challenge’ opened a wider door for me, you don’t know when a big competition as this will throw up and you could be a winner.”


ON the part of Yammama, an indigene of Katsina State, who won the UK leg of the competition with his invention of a farming support application, the competition was worthwhile. He has won several awards in digital technology.

   Yammama, whose father was a farmer, said, “I studied Information Technology and Business Information System at Middlesex University, UK, where I also got a master’s degree in Creative Technology. I had my secondary education at Government Secondary School, Minna Niger State. I also have international and advanced diploma in computer.”

   According to him, “I was very delighted when I received a letter notifying that I’ve emerged the first place winner of the competition in UK. But then, such delights always come with a certain responsibility. It has challenged me to work harder and stay focused on my goals.”

   What was the farming app all about? 

   “It is an app that uses technology to provide the farmers information needed to solve their farm problems and enhance their practices in agriculture. Imagine the rural farmers, getting wealth of information and knowledge that is available everywhere in the world conveniently in their farms,” he said.

    How will the app work? 

   “We actually intend to not only translate into three major languages, but have back-to-back radio services and call centres operating to complement the app. Currently, we have over two million Nigerian farmers registered using mobile phones to access farm inputs, if they could do that, they can definitely do this. It is a lot more than just accessing farm inputs, I’m talking about support from pre-planting to harvest and beyond and even access to finance not only farm inputs but insurance and loans and others using your mobile phones,” he confessed. 

   And the N1.5m? 

   “The money will go into my venture of course, which will take off soon. We intend to run a project where farmers will use the application, from there, we see how we can get five million farmers on the platform by the end of 2018,” he said. 

Advise to government? 

   “Government should see the value in technology and accommodate it just like the little that the ministry of agriculture has done. I believe doing other things in other sector will go and a long way and that is exactly what I set out to do,” he insisted.

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