The winners of the 2016 Enterprise Challenge, Keturah Ovio Onoweya and Sophia Ike Onu met Sir Richard Branson on Wednesday 29 June in Oxford United Kingdom.
The Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group met with the winners for a mentoring session - giving them ideas and advice on how to run a sustainable and profitable business in this current economic environment. He also shared some personal business experiences during the meeting.
After the session with Sir Richard, Keturah and Sophia joined a number of promising entrepreneurs from the Virgin StartUp and Virgin Media Business’ VOOM competition for Lunch and Networking. They also attended this year’s Sunday Times Fast Track 100 event and awards.
Sophia founder The5kshop said “The Enterprise Challenge has been an incredible journey; mentally tough in so many ways but also incredibly stimulating and enjoyable. Meeting Sir Richard Branson was so surreal! Moments before he walked into the room, I was a bit anxious but the minute he came in and we got chatting, it really felt like talking to an old friend. It was impressive how well he understood my business as he casually shared intelligent advice and tips. Richard is definitely that lecturer that can make the toughest subject seem so easy. He answered all our questions with details.
“It's so easy to understand why he's referred to as the Godfather of Entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom. Thank you Richard for being you, continue to inspire”
Keturah founder Qeturah Dot Com said: “Meeting Richard Branson was a once in a lifetime experience. He is probably best known as one of the first ‘positive disruptors’ in business and has always been a real inspiration to me. Talking to him made me believe that everything is possible – you just have to make it possible, and I look forward to seeing how I can apply his words of wisdom and encouragement to my life and business going forward.”
More than 10,800 young Nigerian entrepreneurs entered the competition, which was conceived and organised by British Council and Virgin Atlantic in partnership with Zenith Bank and Samsung, in order to help talented young Nigerians develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Adrian Bird, Head of Nigeria for Virgin Atlantic, said: “Virgin Atlantic is delighted to support the Enterprise Challenge once again. We are a company built on entrepreneurship and are proud to support this initiative which enables young business people to let their dreams fly. It has been exciting to see so many young Nigerians come up with new and innovative ideas that attempt to tackle the most pressing challenges facing the country. Keturah and Sophia have shown incredible skill, talent and dedication and we believe they have a very bright future ahead of them.
Lucy Pearson, Acting Country Director of British Council Nigeria comments: “The work of the British Council in education and the wider society helps transform not only national education systems, but builds more inclusive, open societies and increases young people’s opportunities for a better future. The Enterprise Challenge fits perfectly into this remit, effectively helping to develop the flourishing talent within Nigeria. After all, entrepreneurs make a difference not only to their immediate families and communities, but as the business leaders and employers of the future.”
Sola Oladipo Executive Director Zenith Bank Plc says: “One of the biggest hurdles in business – particularly for young entrepreneurs – is connecting with those who ‘know’, and have already succeeded, and finance. The Enterprise Challenge addresses both these and we’re proud to be a partner.”
Samsung Electronics West Africa, Head of Corporate Marketing, Mr. Koye Sowemimo, adds: “We at Samsung deeply understand the importance of encouraging the average Nigerian youth to innovate and create products, as well as become wealth generators for themselves. To this end, we strongly support this initiative by British Council and Virgin Atlantic and are throwing our complete weight behind this project. We challenge Nigerian youth to explore their capabilities and talents to create products and services that will grow into big and deeply rooted brands in the near future.”
The winners have since received a financial grant worth N2m each and will all benefit from continued support from the initiative’s partners. In addition, Enterprise Challenge winners will receive a fully-funded scholarship to attend a five-day entrepreneurship foundation course at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa.