Thirty shortlisted higher institutions drawn from the six geo-political zones have begun the second stage of evolution and pitching contest for a slice of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s loan, under the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES).
The 30 shortlisted schools were selected from 145 applications perused by the Body of Experts constituted by the apex bank for the Scheme. They arrived the CBN headquarters in Abuja on Monday where they unveiled their entrepreneurial ideas that were vetted and selected based on meeting set criteria.
TIES is part of CBN’s efforts to boost economic growth and reduce unemployment among graduates of Nigeria Polytechnics and Universities.
The Scheme is designed to create a paradigm shift among undergraduates and graduates from the pursuit of white collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship geared towards job creation, economic growth and sustainable development.
One of the competitors, Dr Caroline Alenoghena of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, in company with her student, Miss Esther Afolabi, are asking for grant to expand their Shea business hub.
According to her, Shea nuts grow abundantly in the northern part of Nigeria but its potential are not fully harnessed due to lack of a strategic template to explore it.
She revealed that her team also pitched for the deepening of e-commerce in creating awareness and benefits of commercial dealership in Shea products.
She noted that her team targets to create 2,500 direct jobs along the Shea value chain, adding that N182 million would be required to achieve its aims and objectives which are very scalable.
She said: ‘We have researchers working on expanding Shea products. We are adopting and turning research findings into businesses. International certifications are needed and we intend to acquire those. We have a grant from World Bank and we will set up labs to have US certification and others. There enormous potential Shea products, not only Shea butter”.
In her remarks, Esther Afolabi, a Soil Science and Land Management student of FUT Minna described Shea value chain as a lucrative venture, especially as the materials for processing can be fabricated locally.
Another competitor, Dr (Mrs) Korter Grace and her student, Taiwo Akintola Endurance, both from the Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State pitched the brick charcoal cooling chamber meant to reduce post harvest losses of farmers who grow fruits and vegetables.
Grace emphasized that the product, already in use in Kenya, Mali, India and other climes, empties into the ideals of Sustainable Development Goals 2&12.
She said the desire to create the charcoal cooling chamber was born out of the need to cut back on over 50% of losses that leave grocery farmers impoverished.
She said: “For a start, we are looking at preserving veggies and fruits. Ordinarily, refrigeration is the known means of preserving fruits and veggies, but we know how epileptic electricity is in Nigeria.
“Worse still, farmers, especially those in the rural areas who are off grid, don’t have access to electricity. This results in their produce not getting the right value and not getting to the desired destination. But with this local technology, an on-site project, we will use brick and charcoal to achieve 7° Fahrenheit of cooling, which is good to preserve these delicate produce.
“So, you put your fruits and vegetables inside a container and then into the chamber. It won’t use electricity. No need to fear for weather variation. The hotter the weather, the cooler the chamber”, she explained.