Twelve members of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members have won cash prizes totalling N4 million in the Unity Bank’s flagship business plan competition ‘Corpreneurship Challenge’.

Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, its Group Head, Retail and SME Banking, disclosed this in a statementmade in Lagos.

Akinmade said the winners emerged during the final business pitch in the fourth edition of the contest for NYSC 2020 Batch B corps members, which took place simultaneously across four NYSC camps in Lagos, Ogun, Benin, and Abuja.

He said that the cash prizes included a N200,000 business grant for each of the second runner up, N300,000 business grant for the first runner ups and a star prize of N500,000 for each of the four winners.

The official, during the finale, said the competition was to encourage more youths with clear entrepreneurial intentions to expand or start profitable ventures.

“The grants are not a loan and we want the money to be directed towards profitable ventures. First, you must learn that making mistakes is part of business.

“It is important to constantly think about the challenges you will face. Put the same energy you all have displayed in preparing for this contest in your businesses as you face your post-service year ahead.

“We started Corpreneurship in 2019, with a launch in Lagos and in three other states which included Edo, Ogun, and Abuja. So, today we have expanded it to four locations, and it has been hugely successful.”

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He said  that the Bank would sustain the programme in order to achieve record impact on job creation.

“This is a programme that will stand the test of time, but all we are doing is to support NYSC members to start their own business, no matter how small, and then grow with it. Unity Bank is here to offer startup capital as well as business mentorship.

“Our expectations are in two folds: that they manage the money well such that at the end of the year in addition to the N500,000, N300,000, N200,000 that they won today, they will double it.

“Second, we want people who, at the end of the year, can become employers of labour. This is our first step towards reducing unemployment in the country.

“It is a small step but a big one, and so we expect them to be able to say I have two, three people working with me,” Akinmade said.

Some of the winners, according to the statement, include Evelyn Esumai, Aisosa Erica and Ozuoka Moses in Abuja camp, while Akomolade Blessing, Okafor Augustine and Edokpayi Harrison emerged the winners in the Benin camp.

In Lagos, Moses Bolanle, Iran-Ola Oluwosulu and Zainab Muhammed emerged winners to claim the cash prizes, the statement said.

Ovee 300 applications were received, but only 40 were shortlisted for the pitching session from where the 12 winners emerged.

The contestants’ business plans which ranged from fish production, poultry farming, fashion, piggery to beverages were assessed on originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.

Recall that Unity Bank debuted the Entrepreneurial Development Initiative in 2019, to specifically target corps members, as part of efforts to contribute to job creation in Nigeria. (NAN)