MD of Unity Bank Speaks at WEEP 2.0

As part of concerted efforts toward attaining the economic empowerment of women, the second season of the Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Programme- WEEP a flagship initiative of the Yinka Esther Odumakinde Foundation held on Saturday, March the 24th in Lagos.

Over 150 women and several dignitaries attended this year’s ceremony which featured a panel of expert speakers including Mrs. Tomi Somefun, Managing Director /CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Oyeyimika Adeboye, the Finance & Strategy Director of Cadbury Nigeria Limited and Mrs. Toyosi Akererele-Ogunsiji of Rise Network, where valuable tips for entrepreneurship and innovation for running profitable businesses were delivered.

Speaking at the event, The MD of Unity Bank, Mrs. Tomi Somefun charged the women to take advantage of the various funding opportunities from financial institutions and government agencies.

Coinciding with the 51st birthday of the founder of the initiative, Mrs Yinka Odumakinde,the highlight of this year’s event was the unveiling of thirty two new beneficiaries of the WEEP 2018 Entrepreneurship Award, after a pre-qualification exercise where the  awardees were carefully selected for this second season from Mountain of Fire and Miracle, Power of God Apostolic Church and Ijamido Children’s Home.

In addition to the special performance by the Ijamido Children’s home which added colour to the day, a raffle draw held at various intervals during the duration of the programme where lots of fabulous gifts were won. The star prizes won include a wine refrigerator, a cash prize of N200,000 for the 2017 YEO Entrepreneurship Star award which went to the most outstanding beneficiary of the entrepreneurial grant and the YEO Prize for Event Management- a free 3 – month training in floristry, decorating and event planning powered by the CEO of Fowerplus Events Limited, by Mrs Ozor Adeyeye.

Outstanding testimonies were also fielded from previous beneficiaries of YEO Foundation which include Miss Ruth Benjamin a bag designer and a student of Educational Management from the University of Lagos, Mrs. Esther Andrew who expanded her business through the purchase of a fairly used deep freezer and sewing machine, Mrs. Jumoke Ojuolape who brings in livestock from the North and was able to triple her startup capital and Mrs. Mary Jane Alex who became a Coca-cola distributor and also went into confectionery and hat making business from her grant. She also recently bagged distributorship rights from Pepsi and Biggie drink.

Speaking at the conference, the founder of the YEO Foundation, Mrs. Yinka Odumakinde while giving background information on the initiative disclosed that the most successful candidate of season 2 who excels in her business venture and uses the seed capital judiciously stands a chance of winning the 2018 YEO Entrepreneurship Star award, adding that the foundation’s core value includes accountability and has arranged an effective monitoring exercise after the entrepreneurial conference. She advised participating women to see the initiative as a life transforming opportunity and apply themselves to it with all seriousness by building their businesses to a level where they become employers of labour. She enjoined the women to be solution providers of their generation.

In his remarks, the President of impact Your World Leadership Initiative, Engr. Akin Odumakinde commended the efforts of YEO Foundation towards profitable engagement of women in business and announced his plans to launch a Business Academy so that a great percentage of women entrepreneurs will be accorded the opportunity for greater support in business. He added that agriculture is important to the development of any nation and that development includes women, hence their participation in the agricultural sector must be sought and encouraged. He said the Academy and association will expose participants to the entire value chain of modern agriculture such as poultry farming, fish farming, crop production, marketing, off farm food processing, business plan, opportunities for loans and advisory extension services.

To mark her 50th birthday celebration after receiving an inspiration from God to impact lives, the YEO Foundation was birthed out of necessity in 2017 to identify, empower and transform the less privileged and women entrepreneurs through access to scholarship, funding and entrepreneurship training programme thus transforming their lives and the society at large for societal gain. Through the economic empowerment of women, the foundation aims to contribute to greater gender equality, as well as to more job creation and economic development. Well known for her immense love for Children, Mrs. Yinka Odumakinde launched the foundation by visiting the Ijamido Children’s Home where food items, School bags and lots of other needs as required by the home were provided. In the spirit of Christmas of 2017, the YEO Foundation went further to purchase laptops and desktop computers for the Ijamido Children Home which was presented at the Sheraton Hotels.

In 2017, The Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Programme- WEEP, devoted towards identifying, supporting and funding great business ideas by women from all walks of life was equally launched. This initiative for women entrepreneurs who are into business or have the intention to own and run a sustainable enterprise is focused on shining the spotlight on women who are driving Nigeria’s growth through commerce, innovation and leadership and also looking to expand their businesses across Africa.

In its 1st season, it awarded fifty selected women from Power of God Apostolic Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries and House on the Rock with financial grants to enable them start and grow their businesses. Today, these women have taken their businesses to the next level.

The WEEP initiative continues to open new doors to women who are doing great things in Nigeria and are engaged in productive enterprise, thus assisting in rebuilding the Nigerian economy through financial inclusion. At the heart of YEO’s initiative is the belief that the investment in women is essential to building a better world.