Drawing from the successes recorded by the Buhari administration’s youth empowerment schemes, the World Bank, under its Growth and Employment (GEM) project, has approved the sum of N756.3 million for disbursement to 81 young Nigerian innovators who participated in the 2016 Aso Villa Demo Day (AVDD) – one of the economic empowerment initiatives of the present administration.
A document obtained from the World Bank-funded GEM project indicated that the money would be disbursed to the beneficiaries in two tranches after a grant signing ceremony scheduled for end of March, 2017.
The AVDD in collaboration with GEM project invited business plan submissions from candidates that participated in the regional AVDD pitch screening events that took place in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja from which the 81 beneficiaries emerged.
According to the document, “the GEM project requested for submission of business proposals from eligible applicants of the AVDD 2016 programme of which 289 applicants were screened before the final 81 were eventually picked after a rigorous process of vetting.’’
The GEM document showed that all 81 submitted applications passed the 50% cut off point and environmental and social compliance check.
Other details contained in the document showed that the beneficiaries are drawn from Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Cross River, Delta, FCT, Kaduna, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Rivers state, while 20 others were yet to be registered on the portal.
A breakdown of the grant disbursement process showed that submission of company registration documents for validation is ongoing.
According to the document, “a total of 36 of the 81 applicants have submitted the required company registration and legal documents to date.
“The registration of applicants on the Business Innovation Growth (BIG) portal is ongoing with 61 of the 81 applicants fully registered on the portal.’’
The GEM consultant indicated in the document that verification of implementation and milestone achievement would be conducted as condition for the second disbursement while subsequent surveys would be conducted on the firms for impact evaluation.
The GEM project consultant assured that a mechanism to ensure full implementation of objectives contained in the selected proposals is already in place while a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation work plan has been designed.
The idea behind the GEM programme, the World Bank has noted, “is to further support the presidency’s drive to celebrate and empower the most promising and highly scalable indigenous technology start-ups who are providing innovative solutions to local challenges in Nigeria.’’
The Aso Villa Demo Day is an initiative of the Buhari presidency that targets young Nigerian entrepreneurs with innovative business models that could contribute to the growth of the economy.
It will be recalled that the winners of the 2016 AVDD emerged from a national technological innovation competition held in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.
The Federal Government then gave grants to the best three of the 30 innovators that emerged from the regional competition who were invited to participate in the grand finale of the AVDD 2016 held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.