As a developing nation, entrepreneurship remains a vital catalyst needed for economic growth and overall development. Creating jobs in a thin job market and fostering innovation despite constraints encountered daily, the indomitable spirit of Nigeria’s burgeoning MSME sector continues to inspire us all.
With this in mind, the March 8th Initiative was launched in 2020 in honor of Nigeria’s Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, in a bid to support and further fuel the entrepreneurship industry in the country. Created by well-meaning Nigerians who share in the Vice President’s passion for MSMEs in commemoration of his birthday, the grant offers one-off business grants to young Nigerians seeking opportunities to start or expand on their innovative business ideas.
For its second edition, the initiative was reorganized into 4 categories this year to provide more opportunities for young Nigerian entrepreneurs between 18 and 35 years. The call for application was made on March 8th, 2021 with entrants being called on through public advertisements to submit applications for grants ranging from N100, 000 to N1, 000,000, and covering varying stages of small business growth. To qualify, applicants who own and run Nigerian businesses were mandated to submit a one-page proposal that would in explicit detail, explain how they intend to use the prize money to expand their current businesses.
Adjusting to mercurial times, this year’s March 8th Initiative also recognized health workers nationwide who, in the face of a global pandemic, demonstrated exemplary courage, compassion, diligence, hard work, and professionalism in carrying out their duties. For this, Nigerians were required to nominate health workers who have shown these qualities for a reward of N1 Million under a Health Grant Reward Category which seeks to acknowledge their invaluable service.
An ophthalmological intervention is also slated to hold later this year under the auspices of the March 8th initiative with further details to be announced soon.
Over 35,000 applications were received as of 11:59 pm on Sunday, the 14th of March, 2021, which had previously been announced as the submission deadline. All applications were compiled according to their pre-arranged categories.
The shortlisting process has begun with the following screening stages:
–A comprehensive entry pre-screening process (March 2021),
–A final shortlist (April 2021),
–Verification of shortlisted finalists (May 2021).
–The date of the final announcement of the winners will be announced soon.
To ensure a high level of transparency and integrity, the shortlist process is being carried out by independent evaluators consisting of highly reputable Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, who will evaluate each proposal on substance, awarding marks on a range of criteria including but not limited to clarity, cogency, innovation, and sustainability.
This year, the March 8th Initiative will make available grants to 448 individuals and businesses in Nigeria. “Friends of Prof” will continue to make it a priority to help small businesses grow and expand in smart and efficient ways. The March 8th Initiative is just one unique way of equipping small business owners with the right resources to best drive their business forward.
For more information on future grants and opportunities, visit their official site: www.march8th.ng or follow them across our social media channels with @friendsofprof.