Discovering 5x Purpose-Driven Female Startup Founders!
This is the hallmark of the just concluded finals of the competition to join the Foresight Seeds Fund Accelerator Program organised in collaboration with NDES Women. The Accelerator Program was launched in 2020 during the Nigeria Digital Economy Summit (NDES) virtual event, aimed at increasing the participation of women in the startup entrepreneurial space and supporting them to scale.
The competition was held on this year’s International Women’s Day #IWD2021 to celebrate women empowerment and ingenuity in business. Most especially, to commemorate with the #ChoosetoChallenge campaign for women to challenge the status quo, to create and make the change that the world needs. The 10 top female applicants who qualified from the pool of 474 applicants after a series of evaluations, had the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas to our panel of judges.
The panel of judges are industry leaders, with in-depth experience to deliver on the task of scrutinising and evaluating, in order to choose the best ideas based on their business case to be part of the Accelerator Program. These judges are: Lanre Osibona (Founder and CEO, The Foresight Group), Nike Ligon-Kembi (Executive Advocate, West and Central Africa, Special Projects, IBM Systems), and Ajibola Akindele (General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa for Schneider Electric Process Automation).
The program started with an introduction and opening remark from Lanre Osibona (Founder and CEO, The Foresight Group), followed by a minute silence for Ms. Banke Alawaye who passed away earlier this year. Ms. Alawaye had worked closely with Ms. Sarah Oshunniyi who co-visioned the Accelerator Program, and today, it is a product of her legacy and hard work. Following the introduction of the panel of judges, the rules of the competition were adequately spelled out for the applicants to take cognisance of. Each person had 5 minutes to pitch her idea and 10 minutes to answer questions from the judges.
The following finalists: Ireolowa Bolajoko, Obode Anne, Abigail Alabi, Imade Iyamu, Susan Arichoke, Oghenekevwe Jefia, Grace James, Adebisi Borokinni, Nengi Ogbanga, and Bello Rukayat, pitched their ideas to the panel of judges. It was a heartfelt presentation from all the applicants, as these female founders shared their thought-provoking ideas as solutions to different social, business, and economic challenges they could relate to. All the applicants received feedback, comments, and suggestions from the judges, which was a great take-away for the applicants to help improve their ideas.
After the presentations from all applicants over a 4-hour period, it was time to pick the winners who will be admitted into the Accelerator Program. Judges were given a 20 minutes window to deliberate and complete their markings, whilst Ms. Adaora Ikenze (Head, Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, Facebook), spoke to the finalists and all the attendees about Facebook’s work and commitment to promoting entrepreneurship in Africa, similar to what she witnessed during the competition for the Accelerator Program. She said – “Facebook have few programs aimed at entrepreneurship promotion and training. It is also planning to set up an office in Nigeria, to be the largest office in West Africa to include engineers, software developers, IT experts, and many more.”
The winners for the Accelerator Program were announced by Lanre Osibona and the winners had the benefits of receiving mentoring, training and coaching, and in addition, the shared monetary gift in excess of US$10,000. All applicants were urged to take the feedback as positive notes and continue to improve their business model.
Abigail Alabi won first place with a cash prize of N2,000,000; the first and second runners-up were Adebisi Borokinni and Grace James, who won a cash prize of N1,000,000 each; the third runner-up is Ireoluwa Bolajoko with a cash prize win of N500,000; and the fourth runner-up position was a tie-break between Imade Iyamu and Susan Arichoke, each winning a cash prize of N500,000.
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