Entrepreneurship is about taking a risk and involves creation of new wealth through implementation of new concepts. Howard Stevenson of Harvard University, defined Entrepreneurship as the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled.
Nigerian entrepreneurs are doing just that. They are creating innovative businesses and are not blindly waiting for government policies and interventions to create social change. Many of these entrepreneurs might not be big on scale or resources but are definitely rich in terms of innovation, ideas and efforts. Hence, I believe in treating all small businesses as entrepreneurial firms in need of higher level of support to enable them play their catalytic role in employment generation and economic development.
Policy makers have shown increasing interest in entrepreneurship and its association with economic development. There are many constrains to the development of entrepreneurship in Nigeria and in other developing economies. In 2010, we at Diamond Bank felt the need to explore and refine the hidden potential among these entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Therefore, For the successful implementation of this agenda, Diamond Bank has collaborated with Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Pan Atlantic University in training and nurturing Micro, Small and Medium Scale enterprises.
Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) Program is a core component of Diamond Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It has been working since last five years to support Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs). The program provides resources to the capable and determined individuals to reinforce their skills and abilities which are required to sustain in the fast-changing world of business.
It’s been five years since the project started and the business and economic sectors covered under this project has changed gradually. Initially, BET1 was opened for diverse economic sectors and businesses while, the current season BET5 focuses mainly on Fashion and Lifestyle, Agriculture and Information and Communication Technology, reason being the consistency in massive economic growth from the economic activities in these sectors.
The project involves training of fifty (50) budding entrepreneurs who are selected by a fair means of voting by the people for their innovative ideas on ‘pitch in 60 seconds’ videos. They get the opportunity to undergo rigorous mentorship for over a period of six (6) months after which the top five (5) entrepreneurs are awarded Three Million Naira (N 3,000,000) grants to take their businesses to the next level.
The whole process of this project right from the selection, training and mentoring to infusing the resources into different entrepreneurial ideas focuses upon the capacity building and assisting the MSME stakeholders gain up-to-date knowledge of business management.
To deploy the benefits of this management concept effectively, it is important that the decision makers of the company choose the right area of intervention with a vision of improving the lifestyle of people. I personally believe, running a profitable business needs various skills to match the pace of development and meet ever increasing (changing) demands of the consumers.
It is overwhelming to see that the nexus between power of technology and new media has given birth to a new kind of entrepreneur. One who can voice out his or her innovative young emerging thoughts throughout the continent. I want to celebrate the hard work and innovation of these success stories.
In the last four seasons, BET has fruitfully contributed in the economic growth and has earned the trust of people by helping them understand the depth of entrepreneurship.
“With the grant from Diamond bank, I expanded my business, built new retail stores and grew by 60%. It was a life changing experience for me and my brand.” These are the words of Kolawole Kuddus, owner of Kola Kuddus Couture, one of the winners of BET4. Similar experiences have been shared by other winners as well. Direction Apparels’ rate of shoe production increased from 4 shoes per day to 50 shoes after 6 months training under BET program.
These testimonies substantiate the success of our CSR initiative to a great extent. Hence, we are moving in the right direction towards a sustainable development- contributing to economic development while keeping in mind the interests of the people and community.