Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that emerged winners at the recently concluded Mentor Matchup challenge 4.0 received $20,000 funding to help boost their businesses.
The overall winner from the Mentor Matchup challenge 4.0 received $10,000, the first runner up got $6,000 and the second runner up got $4000.
The Mentor Matchup Challenge is an initiative of 234finance.com, is set to bridge the practical knowledge gap between successful entrepreneurs and the younger generation of entrepreneurs.
This year’s edition which is in partnership with BlackCopper and Platform Capital took place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel.
Ezinne Nwazulu, managing partner, 234Finance.com said 234 Finance is a digital ecosystem and incubator that connects start-ups with investment opportunities in Africa.
Nwazulu said over 100 applicants applied with their pitches and the best 25 were chosen after which seven businesses were selected for the finals.
“We curate successful entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who are far ahead in their journey, we bring them in to connect with people who are just starting and they can tackle issues in their businesses. The mentors can give them a bit of a guide on how to be successful.
“When we started this, we knew that doing one event in a year is not enough and that is why we launched the essential series where we get successful entrepreneurs to come and share their journey and their challenges so that people who are going on that journey will not make certain mistakes and can learn from others as well,” she explained.
She assured me that 234Finance is looking at building it into something more sustainable and continuous through content creation.
Speaking on the selection criteria for picking the businesses, Nwazulu said the business must be creative and innovative, have traction, social impact, personal investment and must align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals.
Chichi Eriobu, winner of the Mentor Matchup challenge 4.0 and founder, Phronesis Foods Nigeria Ltd said Phronesis Foods is a food processing and packaging company focused on processing ‘Ukwa,’ African Breadfruit, local food from Eastern Nigeria.
Eriobu said her company is processing ukwa in its original state and is creating multiple food product lines from the material.
“This is my second time applying for the Mentor Matchup Challenge. The first time we applied, we didn’t get selected, so we decided to give it a try again this year. We started with a one-minute speech that was submitted on IG and hundreds of entrepreneurs applied and we emerged top 25 and 25 of us pitched at the pre-screening and then seven people were selected for the final.
“The seven businesses were amazing. The day we pitched, we were almost the last to pitch and I felt the judges were tired. So, I was happy to make it to the top seven. I am so happy having emerged the winner of the challenge,” she said.
She said Phronesis Foods is picking up something that has been right in our faces and shining a light out of it.
“Many people know Ukwa as what many grandmothers have in their backyards but here we are making it not just a local food product but a global food product because we are selling it to other countries,” she said.