MTN foundation unveils 2nd phase of Yellowpreneur, to train 1,000 women

 MTN foundation unveils 2nd phase of Yellowpreneur, to train 1,000 women

L-R: Mr. Dennis Okoro, Director, MTN Foundation, Dr. Olawale Anifowose,General Manager, Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Odunayo Sanya, Executive director MTN Foundation, Kabiru Yusuf, Assistant Chief Producer, Voice of Nigeria, Mrs Aishatu Sadauki, Director, MTN Foundation and Hon. Reginald Okeya, Director, MTN Foundation.

In a resounding commitment to women’s empowerment and entrepreneurial advancement, the MTN Foundation rolled out the highly anticipated second phase of its Yellowpreneur initiative on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

With a substantial investment of 600 million naira, this transformative initiative is set to empower 1,000 female entrepreneurs through an immersive blend of comprehensive capacity building and financial support.

The event had notable attendees, including Dennis Okoro; Director, MTN Foundation director, Mrs. Aishatu Sadauki; Director, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, Executive Director, MTN Foundation, Mrs. Olufunke Shina; Director of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Olufunke Ogunlewe, Deputy Director Skills Acquisition and Development Centre and Mrs Bolatito; Deputy Director Poverty Alleviation, Thelma Sholanke, Ms. Ota Akhigbe – Head, Memberships and Partnerships, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria,  Dr. Olawale Anifowose, General Manager, Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Kabiru Yusuf, Assistant Chief Producer, Voice of Nigeria and Hon. Reginald Okeya, Director, MTN Foundation. and other dignitaries.

Aisha Sadauki, in her opening speech, highlighted that despite women constituting 50% of Nigeria’s population, only 35% are involved in entrepreneurship. Stating that the gender gap in labour market participation has persisted since 1995, with women facing obstacles globally. Therefore, the MTN Yellowpreneur initiative addresses this by providing resources, opportunities, and skills to support women in business, contributing to reduced female unemployment and advanced women’s development.

She further stated that the non-empowerment of women is recognised as a significant threat to socio-economic development, making entrepreneurship skills a priority at all government levels and that MTN Foundation’s commitment to supporting women’s development in Nigeria through the Yellowpreneur initiative is aimed at contributing to economic growth and development of which is passionate about and proud of.

Odunayo Sanya, Executive Director MTN speaks on the Yellowpreneur initiative 

Sanya in her speech noted that over time, it has been discovered that the most significant gap in terms of women empowerment is the capacity building gap. She stated that although women have gained access to grants through other programs, they often fail to utilise them due to a lack of knowledge. In her words “We have decided to address this gap through the Yellowpreneur capacity building initiative and to achieve our goal, we are partnering with the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC).”

L-R: Ms. Ota Akhigbe – Head, Memberships and Partnerships, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, Mr. Dennis Okoro, Director, MTN Foundation, Dr. Olawale Anifowose, General Manager, Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Odunayo Sanya, Executive director MTN Foundation, Kabiru Yusuf, Assistant Chief Producer, Voice of Nigeria, Mrs Aishatu Sadauki, Director, MTN Foundation and Hon. Reginald Okeya, Director, MTN Foundation.

Phase one, a milestone 

A total of 42,372 applications were received, and in collaboration with EDC and the Mastercard Foundation, 4,711 women underwent a 5-week virtual learning program on entrepreneurship. The comprehensive curriculum included topics such as bookkeeping, basic accounting, customer service, and contact building. Out of 101 participants who pitched their ideas, 50 females meeting the cutoff mark received equipment loans totaling 94 million.

The training not only enhances capacity but also guides participants in developing a complete business plan. Yellowpreneur acts as a catalyst for economic development and women’s empowerment, with a particular focus on businesses that locally source their raw materials in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, processing, circular economy, and ICT.

This approach serves as a sustainability strategy, fostering accountability as individuals recognize the broader benefits. Unlike the constant need for new funding, the loan operates akin to a grant. Notably, there’s a six-month grace period before repayment begins, allowing for 36 months to fulfill the obligation. Additionally, women receive 25% of the loan amount as a grant after completing the repayment.

Phase two: what to know

Yellowpreneur in phase two aims to conduct a 5-week online entrepreneurial training for 1000 female entrepreneurs. Also, MTN has earmarked 600 million for the project, allocating 450 million for 150 qualified entrepreneurs to access equipment loans, and an additional 112,500,000 will be available as grants to entrepreneurs upon completing the loans. Detailed information on how to participate is available on official website.

Excerpts from the fireside chat 

The launch featured a fireside chat hosted by Mediapreneur, Bamidele Vivian Osagie, with participants including Mrs. Amina Ayagbola, founder of Women in Successful Careers (WISCA), Dr. Olawale Anifowose, Director of Programmes and Partnership at the Enterprise Development Centre, Mrs. Oluwafunmilola Shenikan, President of the African Women Fish Processor and Traders Network (Nigerian Chapter), and Victoria King, CEO of Victoria King Clothing.

Mrs. Ayagbola emphasized the role of entrepreneurship in job creation, aligning the Yellowpreneur initiative with WISCA’s efforts to invest in women, provide mentorship, and promote entrepreneurship. She highlighted the potential catalytic effect on the economy through the initiative and advocated for Public-Private Partnerships to address challenges hindering the growth of women-led businesses in Nigeria.

Dr. Anifowose from EDC noted that during the first phase, women expressed a desire for capacity building. The program facilitated self-paced learning, focusing on the Nigerian economy. Survey results indicated that 78% of women learned about customer service, and 80% accessed funding from other sources. The curriculum has been revised to address the economic situation, including marketplace dynamics.

Oluwafunmilola Shenikan, a Yellowpreneur recipient, shared that all women in her organization received equipment loans. She highlighted the benefits of the initiative, including capacity building, business plan mapping, and improved pitching skills. Her confidence level rose from 5 to 7, and she commended MTN for its transparency. Victoria King, another Yellowpreneur equipment loan recipient, expressed gratitude to MTN Foundation for making her fashion designing dreams a reality. She transitioned from a civil degree to fashion designing, now employing women from diverse backgrounds. Her business has progressed, and she emphasized the positive impact of paying it forward.

Testimonials of Phase One Yellowpreneur Recipients

Nenye Azubuike, CEO of Dohn & Calister Garments, expressed gratitude for her participation in the program. Although she didn’t secure the grant, she highlighted the invaluable knowledge and connections gained, contributing significantly to her business growth and expansion.

Ayoola Ojo, CEO of Sheer Glow Naturals, shared her success story of accessing equipment loans through the initiative. This support enabled her business expansion, securing a larger workspace. She conveyed appreciation to the MTN Foundation for their impactful initiative. Ayoola also advised aspiring entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities offered by the Yellowpreneur initiative, emphasizing its potential to bring about positive transformations in their businesses.

Zenith Bank’s financial partnership

Uju Umeh, representing Zenith Bank, affirmed the financial institution’s strong endorsement of the Yellowpreneur initiative. She mentioned that Zenith Bank, as a partner, is committed to offering business advisory services to recipients as a way of actively contributing to the success of the initiative.

MTN Foundation celebrates 20 years of impacting lives

Speaking at the event, Executive Director, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya stated, “A few years ago, we launched our strategy framework preceding the 2025 framework, centered around the belief that ‘Everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life.” Our commitment to connectivity extends beyond services; we see ourselves as enablers, connecting individuals to their dreams and aspirations. We firmly believe that our business success is intertwined with the success of the communities we serve. This belief led to the establishment of the MTN Foundation in 2004, which will mark its 20th anniversary this year.”

She further mentioned that the MTN Foundation has made a significant impact across Nigeria, reaching every state with diverse projects and programs. Fully funded by 1% of MTN’s annual profit after tax, this donation drives the foundation’s socio-economic interventions. MTN Foundation has impacted over 31.386 million lives, reaching nearly 79 million people through 50 unique programs.

She said “Our commitment to sustainability goes beyond mere rhetoric, evident in a robust governance framework. We focus on scaling value and impact within communities, employing a theory of change and a CSI sustainability framework. We identify problems to solve through the lenses of Nigeria’s national priorities—health, education, youth development, and community development—along with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

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