At least 490 small businesses have won varying amounts of non-interest loans under the Kwara State social investment programme to grow their enterprises.
Ten of the 490 young business owners got either N1.5m or N2m each at a symbolic ceremony where Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq handed them the cheques.
The 10 main winners, who pitched different business ideas ranging from printing, fashion, waste recycling, and agric value chains, are Hussein Ahmed (N1.5m); Azeez Akeem (N1.5m); Soliu Muhammed Lanre (N2m); Oladunni Kafilat Olaide (N2m);
Femi Peter (N1.5m); Sanusi Ismail Adeshina (N2m); Ali Michael (N2m); Kareem Naimat (N2m); Adebayo Hadiat Tinuola (N1.5); and Abdulrauf Abdulraheem (N1.5m).
The winners emerged from a rigorous process involving 15,708 applicants following different layers of screening by jurors drawn from the private sector and public service top players.
The interest-free loan was given through Kwapreneur 3.0, a third in the series of the youth-focused initiative to support young people to thrive.
AbdulRazaq said his administration will continue to implement policies and programmes that will make Kwara a better place to live, invest, and work.
“This is another success story and a boost for small scale businesses in the state. Our administration will not relent in making Kwara State a better place to live and invest,” he said.
AbdulRazaq congratulated the finalists of the third series of the scheme and said the programme could become a quarterly affair to accommodate more beneficiaries.
Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) had been established to positively impact the lives of the poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed and those at the bottom of the financial pyramid and have no access to funding, the Governor said.
“KWAPRENEUR is one of the many poverty alleviating activities of KWASSIP. It is one of the ways to provide funding for small businesses, lubricate the economy, and reduce poverty. We are simply trying to give everyone a fair shot and a sense of belonging within available resources,” he added.
Abdulquowiy Olododo, KWASSIP Chief, said: “Kwapreneur is a non-interest loan scheme that is designed for young entrepreneurs in Kwara State to support new young businesses and help existing businesses to expand. The overall objective of the scheme is to ensure we encourage youth entrepreneurship to create the next generation of Job creators to see that Kwara State becomes a business-driven economy.
“Series of stages have been passed in screening the applications we received based on key criteria to determine the final beneficiaries for Kwapreneur 3.0.
“It is also interesting to know that as we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of applications is the same way we have seen a substantial increase in the number of beneficiaries for Kwapreneur 3.0, with a total number of 490 beneficiaries, compared to the 170 and 100 beneficiaries in Kwapreneur 1.0 and 2.0 respectively.”
The event was attended by cabinet members; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job Creation Barrister Aliyu Al-Hassan; Director General, State APC Campaign Council Alhaji Abdulfatai Yahaya Seriki; and a top chieftain of State APC Chief Gbenle Adeyemi.
The panelists included Mr. Yinka Umar, a successful banker from the Fidelity bank with 17 years experience; Adebayo Lawal from Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN); Mrs Rukayat Yahaya, CEO Temirah Entrepreneur Community (TEM); Abdulraheem Oldimeji; and Abdulkareem Abdulrasaq, an enterpreneur and social critic.
Courage Balogun, one of the beneficiaries of Kwaprenuour 1.0 who gave a goodwill message, described AbdulRazaq as a lover of the youths, testifying that the Governor’s passion for Kwarans, particularly young entrepreneurs, transcends religious, ethnic and political boundaries.
Balogun recalled that she got an interest-free loan during the first phase of it on the basis of merit, encouraging the latest beneficiaries of the loan to use the funds judiciously.
She appreciated the administration for investing so much in the youths in several ways.