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Friday, February 22, 2019

WELA Nigeria Alumni Launch Fund to Support Women Entrepreneurs

February 22, 2019. Lagos, Nigeria — The 2015 Nigeria class of the Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Africa (WELA) programme today launched the “The WELA Angel Investor Initiative” at the Temtabvicz Conference Centre at Ikeja. In doing so, they demonstrated CEIBS WELA alumni’s commitment to social responsibility.

WELA Nigeria 2015 Class President Mrs. Omoyemi Chukwurah said creating the fund is the group’s way of empowering women to become productive members of their communities. “The exercise we are witnessing today is a pilot phase of a scheme that we intend to extend into many low-income communities in Nigeria,” she said. “Many women in Nigeria are hardworking yet most of them cannot access the needed capital for their businesses in order to make a difference for themselves and their families. This is also a move through which we hope to contribute towards raising a generation of female entrepreneurs in Nigeria who are financially empowered and, in turn, will empower other women entrepreneurs.”

Fifteen beneficiaries received soft loans ranging from N50,000 ($138USD) to N100,000 ($276USD). The initiative was launched to provide working capital to women entrepreneurs who, as a result of various limitations, are unable to receive loans from commercial banks or micro-finance institutions.

The funds contributed by WELA alumni will be awarded to selected women entrepreneurs who will then be required to repay the loan within a period of one year with no interest charged. After one year, beneficiaries of the fund are encouraged to save from their earnings to build capital and continue to grow their businesses. The repaid loans will then be re-distributed to other women entrepreneurs.

Beneficiaries of the loan must be nominated by a contributor to the fund – an angel investor – and must have a viable business that has been in operation for a minimum of 5 years. Each recipient must also provide two guarantors and agree to the terms and conditions provided in the loan repayment contract.

Before receiving the funds, beneficiaries are given training on how to remodel their existing business structures and position themselves for growth. For control purposes, the funds are awarded through a commercial or micro-finance bank and daily sales from the beneficiaries are to be paid into the recipient’s grant account for the one year period until the loan is fully paid back.

Mrs. Edewo Dickson – one of the fund’s beneficiaries – was upbeat about expanding her business with the loan. “What I have witnessed here today has reinforced my belief that, as women, we need to empower one another. This financial assistance will help me expand the spices, snail, and plantain business I have been running for the past 20 years. It has always been difficult to grow my business because I have been unable to access a loan. Not only have I received an interest free loan, but I have also received the know-how to turn my business around and I plan to share these new ideas with my friends, so they can also grow their businesses.”

Also present at the event was Ms. Olayinka Aworetan, Country Manager for CEIBS in Nigeria.

Samuel Ocloo-Dzaba
Michael D. Thede