Access Bank has called on women entrepreneurs globally to apply for its Womenpreneur Pitch-a-Ton Africa season four.
Mrs Abiodun Olubitan, the Group Head, W Initiative, Access Bank Group, made the call at a media roundtable for the unveiling of Access Bank W Initiative: Pitch-a-ton season 4.
The competition is open to Nigerian business owners from age 18 to 55, whose businesses are legal and registered in Nigeria.
The Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton Africa programme is designed to provide female owned businesses across Africa an opportunity to access finance, world-class business trainings as well as mentoring opportunities.
Olubitan said that the initiative was introduced as part of the bank’s mandate to empower female entrepreneurs with financial and business skills.
Speaking on the theme: “Empowering Women for Global Impact,” Olubitan Saud the initiative was designed to create an enabling environment for female entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
“ So, we have just opened for application and for this year, we are going to be having 27 winners.
“Top seven are going to be winning financial grants up to five million naira and the additional 20 will be consolation prizes which would include free website development, free advertisement as well for their business.
“This is just to ensure that it’s not one winner takes it all. Everybody is a winner. “So, this year’s competition is going to be different. We started in 2019 and we have had it every year till this year,’’ she said.
Olubitan said that the bank was expecting 40,000 applications as against 30,000 received last year, noting that four thousand applications since it opened.
She explained that those who had applied and were not lucky to be selected as one of the top 100, would be harvested into the W Community.
According to her, they will have free access to several information as well as use the toolkit in there, to train themselves.
She said that the season four would have Nigeria standing on its own while the other African countries would coordinate programmes from their own markets as well.
Olubitan said they would localise the content, make it relatable for the women entrepreneurs in their own markets and also have opportunities to add extra rewards.
She said that cash prizes, consolation prizes, including non-financial prizes such as insurance packages, three virtual business loans, investors matching opportunities and other opportunities would abound in this year’s competition.
She said that the season four competition would create a global impact as it would produce 400 mini MBA winners, as against the 200 winners achieved in the past three years.
Olubitan said the mini MBA was an intensive training programme developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to train women on the rudiments of business.
She said, “So just look at that exponential growth that we are going to have in this year alone because we are opening it up to the countries to set it off themselves.
“And in addition, we are going to have 40 more winners in terms of the cash prizes and non-financial prizes.”
She said that the competition had produced 200 winners across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
Olubitan added that 10 other African countries had produced 13 grant winners and 10 other consolation prizes across Africa.
Speaking on the impact, she said that it had exposed women to international markets and access to exhibit their products in many countries.
She also said that through the competition, the bank had been able to contribute directly and meaningfully to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Because as you’re empowering the women, they’re increasing their business capacity, they’re able to replicate what they’re doing.
“So, these are the impacts that we see that actually propelled us, apart from the fact that it’s profitable’’, she said.
Olubitan disclosed that the bank had given grants worth $55,000 to winners since inception of the initiative.
She said that interested entrepreneurs who meet the criteria should follow @W Community or Instagram, Twitter and facebook log on to www.womenpreneur.ng to apply.
The application which opened on July 13 closes on Aug. 19, 2022.