The Chairman, Senate committee on Industries, and the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Distinguished Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, FCA on Friday supported business start-ups with grant during the graduating ceremony and Demo Day of Business 101 for Creatives and Artisans (Cohort 001) participants of the Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL).

Out of 47 individuals that enrolled for the training, forty-one (41) budding and aspiring entrepreneurs successfully completed the 3-months intensive business training handled by the technical partner of SAIL, the Co-creation Hub (Cc-Hub).

Over 4,000 young men and women applied for the 5 pilot SAIL programmes across 16 Local Governments/Local Council Development Areas in the Lagos East Senatorial District, while 150 were shortlisted for the entire maiden cohort. 47 individuals were admitted into Business 101 for Creatives and Artisans class.

Other programmes include Tech Talent Development, Lagos East Teachers Fellowship, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Café for Secondary School Students and Start-up Accelerator for Businesses.

SAIL, is an initiative of the Tokunbo Abiru Constituency Team (TACT) Foundation, a dedicated innovation and tech lab that is providing relevant technology, business and digital skills to tech enthusiasts and young entrepreneurs across the Lagos East Senatorial District.

In his remarks, Abiru, a former bank chief Executive said his Foundation established the Innovation Lab in response to growing unemployment in the country and also to position the younger generation for the enormous opportunities available in this current fourth industrial revolution.

He said, ‘’We are all aware that in recent years, Nigeria has faced unprecedented economic challenges ostensibly caused by recession, shrinking revenues and the Coronavirus. The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS reported that the youth unemployment rate in Nigeria is at 42. 50 in the first quarter of 2022.

‘’Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, having failed to maximize the opportunities of the agricultural and industrial ages. Now, we are in the digital revolution age, we therefore cannot as a nation afford to miss out on the enormous opportunities available in this innovation and digital age.

‘’This is the compelling rationale behind the establishment of The Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL). Look around you today, you will discover that the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote working fashionable. Also, the rise in the deployment of robotics and artificial intelligence all point to the fact that we either brace up for technology or we lose out again!

‘’So, I knew, when I became Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that the most enduring empowerment I can give to young people and entrepreneurs, in my constituency is to leveraging my global exposure and experience to make them globally competitive by equipping them with premium digital, innovative and technological skills which are in high demands globally. This was in keeping with the social contract that I had with the people of the Lagos East Senatorial district when seeking their votes’’.

Ojoma Ochai, Managing Partner of the Creative Economy Practice at CcHUB, challenged the graduating participants to harness the huge opportunities in the creative sector.

She said, “I want to begin this speech by saying thank you to Senator Abiru for his investment in developing opportunities for talent to thrive’’, adding that the creative sector contributes the equivalent of half of Nigeria’s GDP, it represents about 3% of global GDP and employs millions around the world and in Nigeria.

The event also featured a pitch session of 10 aspiring entrepreneurs in the graduating class who had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of business professionals for seed funding and mentorship.

Senator Abiru doled out a business grant worth N3m to the top three entrepreneurs who made best business pitches. The Overall winner, John Olisa got N1.5m, while the first runner up, Jessica Nwobodo got N1m and the second runner up, Esther Ogundare went home with N500k.


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