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21 finalists battle for Abuja Business Plan competition grand prize

Twenty one finalists are slugging it out to win sponsorship deals in the 3rd Abuja Enterprise Agency-sponsored Abuja Business Plan competition.  The 21 finalists, all…

Twenty one finalists are slugging it out to win sponsorship deals in the 3rd Abuja Enterprise Agency-sponsored Abuja Business Plan competition.
 The 21 finalists, all youths from age 25 to 35, are competing in three categories – agriculture, fashion and Information & Communication Technology.
 Three winners, at least, will emerge in each category and the winnings will be N1 million, N750,000 and N500,000 for the first, second and third winners.
 All the 21 participants have pitched their innovations and businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency’s head office in Abuja, with a panel of judges working on their presentations.
 At the pitch ceremony, acting Managing Director, Abuja Enterprise Agency, Muhammad  Arabi Tukur called on investors and wealthy individuals to sponsor the businesses of the participants.
“We believe that this crop of young entrepreneurs is worth investing in,” Tukur said, adding that he has deep confidence in the ability of the judges to provide credible assessments for business pitch.
 He noted that the 3rd Abuja Business Plan competition was borne out of the FCT’s administration vision of ensuring the provision of an enabling environment, particularly for youths, to take their rightful place in the area of business, thereby charting a new but sure path to self-reliance and economic emancipation.
 Some of the finalists who spoke with our correspondent were excited about the opportunity the competition presented them.
They hope to invest their winnings in expanding their businesses and deepen their competencies.
 For instance, Christopher E. Kunini, 31, from Taraba State who farms bamboo in Keffi, Nasarawa State said the market for bamboo is huge and has the capacity to reduce unemployment significantly in Nigeria, hence his investment into it.
  “Bamboo has a big market in Nigeria that hasn’t been met. There are over 6,000 different products from bamboo trees. The global market value of bamboo is about $38 billion. Forty-eight per cent of the share goes to China alone and Indonesia gets 16 per cent. The rest of the world share the remaining market but Africa is nowhere in the picture.
 “In Abuja, three years ago, you could get bamboo in only Abuja, Niger, Nasarawa and Benue. But now, people go all the way to Edo and Delta state to bring bamboo to Abuja. That is the gap we seek to bridge. Our 10-hectare bamboo plantation at Keffi has the capacity to produce one million poles. If I win, I will install irrigation facilities at the farm. I have invested about N5m in the business part from my trainings on how to grow bamboo in Germany and in Wales. Bamboo can solve the unemployment situation in the states.
 “If you plant bamboos on just 10 hectares in each of the 44 local governments in Kano state, you could generate around N11bn annually from those farms, with a huge part of the money for the rural people. So bamboo can actually help alleviate poverty in the rural areas. Each of the ten hectre farms can employ about 1,200 people and the market is insatiable,” he explained.
 Daniel Isah, founder of Bluebird, an ICT firm said, “We are transforming the retail market in Nigeria and shop owners can be getting live reports of sales in their shops with our devices.
“We do hardware and software. It comes with a receipt printer, barcode scanner and a tab. It’s easy to use and cost-effective. With N5,000 monthly, you can access it. We have so far deployed 17 to different outlets in Abuja and we have just signed an order with Unilever to deliver 1000 units.”

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