It all began with 36,000 applicant who applied for the grant but through the selection process 500 was selected, then another 50, who were taking through an intensive training process for 14 weeks and finally three most prospective business ideas were rewarded with N9 million.
The winners are, Cotton Loops Chief Executive Officer, Bolulope Adebiyi, who beat 49 other contenders to win the N5 Million first place prize while Physiocraft Allied Health Service, Tinuade Olanrewaju and CEO Learntor Limited, Mercy Igbafe, emerged as the second and third winners with N3 Million and N1 Million cash prizes respectively.
Adebiyi was grateful to God for the victory, and thanked Access Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) for the opportunity. She said the grant would enable her expand the company’s factory. “Cotton Loops is an ethical black and white fashion lifestyle brand.
We design and create black and white fashion globally. We make black and white high-street clothes, casual and cooperate clothes.
“Within the next six weeks, we are expanding to Dakar, Nairobi, Ghana and the United Kingdom. So, we are going to expand it, and make the clothing more affordable, even here in Nigeria. We are also an ethical brand, which means, we up-circle all of our production risk, and we give to the local women in the market for their children to crawl on and sleep on due to the dirty environment,” she said.
Also speaking, the second runner-up, said she was so humbled for the experience, describing it as life-changing.
“Access Bank has changed our lives. There is potential here in Africa but our women lack the right visibility due to digital skills gap. Hence with this fund, Learntor can do more to digitally up-skill women, empower them, so they can give their businesses digital visibilities even in the international community,” she said.
Coordinator, Access Bank Womenpreneur Pitch-A-Ton 2019, Ayona Trimnell, said the initiative was part of the banks philosophy to build women capacity in business so they can transform the country’s economy and compete globally.
According to Trimnell, “Access Bank is a leading financial institution for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Hence we create programmes not only to empower them but to enable them and give them better access to finance and business knowledge. ”Before today, we put out a call to women entrepreneurs who have been in business for minimum of a year, to send us their business ideas by applying for this program.
And we got 36,000 applicants from all over the country.
“We careful narrowed them down from that number to 500, and to 50. And for the 50 women, in collaboration with IFC, we took them through 14 weeks of intensive entrepreneural training. And they were awarded a Mini-MBA, from the IFC.