Nigerian entrepreneurs get business lesson from Richard Branson

Two of Nigeria’s brightest young entrepreneurs have had a business master class from Sir Richard Branson, after winning a competition by British Council and Virgin Atlantic in Partnership with Zenith Bank.

Branson2Eseoghene Ise Odiete and Nasir Abdulqadir Yammama won the Enterprise Challenge – an online competition for Nigerians entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35 and living in Nigeria or studying in the UK. The Apprentice-style competition took place over three rounds, during which candidates wrote an essay on their entrepreneurial journeys, created a video pitch for their businesses or business plans, and had their ideas scrutinised by a panel of experts in Nigeria and the UK.

The mentoring session between the two winners of the enterprise challenge competition and Branson took place on July 1 in London. The session was designed so that the winners could ask about and learn from the magnate’s life and business experiences. At the end of the meeting it turned out to be more than a mentoring session, it was a master class which everyone benefitted from.

Branson, Founder and Chairman Virgin Group, said Virgin Atlantic is delighted to have supported the Enterprise Challenge program dedicated to supporting young Nigerian entrepreneurs and fostering new ideas.

“Innovation has been an important part of Virgin’s heritage and I was pleased to see so many young Nigerians keen to embrace new ideas through the competition. Many congratulations to Ese and Nasir who had fantastic business plans and I’m sure will have very bright futures,” he said.

Odiete runs Hesey Designs – an online store selling African-inspired accessories, which also helps to empower and mentor other young African women.

She said: “It was an awesome experience meeting and learning from Richard Branson; one that will change my life and business and take it to a whole new level. I am super grateful for the opportunity.”

Yammama, a Postgraduate student at Middlesex University in London, won with a business plan for a mobile phone app called Verdant to help crop farmers.

He said: “The Enterprise Challenge has been a remarkable competition which I thoroughly enjoyed. I believe it has not only developed my skills but exposed me to a whole new way of looking things from writing to pitching and presentation. Also, the calibre of people I have been able to interact and network with is the absolute thing every aspiring entrepreneur and innovator wishes to associate with. And Meeting Sir Richard Branson was a priceless opportunity that I will continue to value immensely. I have been able to acquire so much wisdom and inspiration that I feel ready and bound to exceed all expectation.”

Over 1000 young Nigerian entrepreneurs entered the competition – which was organised by British Council in partnership with Virgin Atlantic and with financial support from Zenith Bank in order to help talented young Nigerians develop their entrepreneurial skills.

In addition to their meeting with Branson, the winners each received a £5000 grant, courtesy Zenith Bank to help them develop their businesses, a fully-funded scholarship to attend a five-day entrepreneurship foundation course at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa, and two return tickets to the UK.