What a man can do a woman can do better” is a popular adage. But that did not quite play out when the results of those that participated in the first ever YouWiN programme indicated that only 18 percent of the overall applicants were women. It was that reality that necessitated the establishment of YouWiN Women.
YouWiN stands for Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria. It is an innovative business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas. The first edition of YouWiN was launched in 2011 and the accomplishments of the 1,200 YouWiN awardees were celebrated at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on April 12, 2012.
YouWiN Women, however, is the second edition of the entrepreneurial scheme which is designed for only female entrepreneurs aged 45 years or less, and championing this cause as project lead is the delectable Snow Ogunjimi.
Snow Ogunjimi is a development specialist with a background in project development, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. She has M.Sc. from the London South Bank University, UK.
For Snow, her growing up has indeed influenced her positively, even up till date. “Growing up was very interesting,” she says. “As a child, discipline and hard work were the watchword in my family. My parents would always insist that we focus on our education and the sky would be our starting point. They always admonished us to be content with what we have and respect people. These words and way of life have kept me all these years; sticking to these words and practicing them have paid off big time.”
As a development specialist, Snow says passion has always been her drive. “I am passionate about people and their wellbeing. A project with broad impact and well thought-out sustainability plan is what drives me and this project YouWiN Women has got that in place.”
Sharing about her role as the project lead of the programme, she reveals: “My duty is to ensure the smooth running of the YouWiN Women business plan competition and the implementation of the YouWiN Mentoring Programme. The YouWiN Women programme includes sensitisation, business clinics, training and announcement of awardees.”
How then can women participate in this venture and what are the requirements? “The first thing to do,” she explains, “is to register online, fill the application form and submit. The next stage is training and then the submission of stage-two business plan. Conditions for participation include: Any Nigerian woman between 18- 45 years old (for year 2012); a post-secondary school qualification; business venture must be within Nigeria and with the intention of employing Nigerian citizens; business venture must not entail the production or distribution of weapons, alcoholic beverages, tobacco or/and gambling or any activities in contradiction with the Nigerian constitution. You must also prepare an innovative business concept summary. Winners are given a grant of between N1 million and N10 million to start up or expand a business. The vision is to encourage aspiring and innovative youths in Nigeria to expand their businesses, develop business ideas and engage in entrepreneurship that will lead to job creation.”
Speaking on the mentoring aspect of the programme which she is also in charge of, Snow says, “The YouWiN Mentoring Programme (YMP) will provide winners in YouWiN with integrated and continuous mentoring that will enhance their chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Mentors will be committed to work on voluntary basis for one year, commit one hour per month to assigned mentee, mentor at least one mentee, and send in quarterly reports on the progress of assigned mentee(s).”
The main objective of the YouWiN programme is to generate jobs by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas that will lead to job creation. The programme aims to provide aspiring youth with a platform to showcase their business acumen, skills and aspirations to business leaders, investors and mentors in Nigeria, but Snow believes that women need to get more involved.
“YouWiN Women was established because women’s involvement in the YouWiN programme was very low,” she explains. “YouWiN Women was launched in September 2012 and by October 28, 2012, the first-stage business concept submission closed. By December 17, 2012, successful first-stage candidates were notified and invitation for training in each state of the nation commenced. By February 18, 2013, training of the second-stage candidates commenced. By March 2, submission of second-stage business plan started and it closed on March 22. We always update our website so that participants and intending participants can be up-to-date on happenings.”
On a final note, she admonishes: “This programme is not going to be here forever and as such, we have been encouraging youths all over the country to participate. Getting funds to run a business is not easy and that is why the federal government put this in place. It is only wise to take advantage of the opportunity and if you missed the past one, prepare to join the next batch. You can achieve your dreams either as a man or woman if only you believe!”