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Mitchell Elegbe Inducted into the Prestigious EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame

…holds singular honour of being the first and only entrepreneur to have won in both emerging and master categories in any region globally



From L-R : Founder/GMD Interswitch Group, Mitchell Elegbe; EY Global Chairman and CEO, Carmine Di Sibio and EY Senior Partner and Entrepreneur of the Year Leader for West Africa, Ashish Bakhshi at Elegbe’s Induction into the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame in Monaco on Thursday, June 8, 2023.

LAGOS, Nigeria, June 8, 2023: Mitchell Elegbe, the Founder and Group Managing Director of Interswitch Group has been inducted into the Ernst and Young (EY) World Entrepreneur of the Year (WEOY) Hall of Fame.

This proud moment took place at the WEOY award ceremony in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on Thursday June 8, 2023, before an audience which included a panel of esteemed and independent judges, luminary speakers, the ecosystem of EY Entrepreneur of The Year alumni and EY executive leadership, including EY Global Chairman and CEO, Carmine Di Sibio.
According to EY, the World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame is an elite corps of men and women who have been recognized for their exceptional entrepreneurial achievements. For more than 35 years, EY has been celebrating ingenuity through the Entrepreneur of the Year program. The programme has recognized more than 10,000 outstanding entrepreneurs for their vision, innovation, courage, and leadership in building and growing successful businesses — businesses that influence the way people live, the products and services we depend on, and the economic vibrancy of our local communities and global markets.

This year, 49 entrepreneurs from 45 countries across the world were inducted into the 2023 WEOY Hall of Fame. Elegbe had the unique distinction of being the only black and African global finalist and inductee into the coveted hall of fame, as well as the only entrepreneur in the 37-year history of the awards to have won in both the emerging and master categories at various times in their region.
Following his induction, Elegbe expressed his appreciation to the global EY team and the Nigeria team, particularly the Senior Partner and EY Entrepreneur of the Year Leader for West Africa, Ashish Bakhshi.
He said: “I am honoured to have been inducted into this prestigious body which is renowned for its rich and vibrant legacy. I express my gratitude to the Ernst and Young team for providing this platform that acknowledges and celebrates entrepreneurs across the world.” He added, “This recognition will further cement our commitment at Interswitch to never stop pushing the boundaries of innovation in a bid to foster an Africa where payments are a seamless part of everyday life.

Elegbe was inducted for his laudable contributions as an exceptional African entrepreneur, who has contributed in no small measure to the economic development of Nigeria and Africa as a whole, having distinguished himself in business leadership and technology development.

This induction follows his emergence as the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Emerging Entrepreneur category) 11 years ago, in 2012 and his emergence, in March 2023, as the West African Entrepreneur of the Year in the Master category.
Elegbe is a multiple award-winning professional and a renowned business leader in the Information Technology and Financial Services industry and is recognised for driving revolutionary payment innovation in Africa. He has won several awards, some of which include Harvard Business School Association (Nigeria) Leadership Award in the General Management Category; African Banker Awards 2019 as the African Banker Icon; CNBC/Forbes All African Business Leader (AABLA) Awards for West Africa as well as Financial Technology (Fintech) Africa Awards, Payments and Transfer category in 2016, among other deserving recognitions. He is also a Bishop Desmond Tutu Fellow of the African Leadership Institute.

Founder/GMD Interswitch Group, Mitchell Elegbe and wife, Mercy Elegbe at his Induction into the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame in Monaco on Thursday, June 8, 2023.

Elegbe founded Interswitch in 2002 to provide a solution to problems associated with payments in Nigeria. Since then, the company has grown to be a leading payment and digital commerce company that helps to build and manage payment infrastructure and provides robust technology-based solutions to individuals, financial institutions, and governments across Africa.


Nestlé supports rural women retailers in Nigeria to grow their businesses




Participants at the event

Since August 2021, Nestlé Nigeria has helped 332 women to scale up their businesses by 300% and to sustain the new level through the Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project. The beneficiaries are women within Nestlé Nigeria’s value chain, running small businesses in rural areas across Nigeria.

Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria by helping them build financial security to improve
their livelihoods is one of the ways through which Nestlé Nigeria is Creating Shared Value
along its value chain. The program was established to help beneficiaries scale up their businesses and sustain the new level of up to three times the size of their existing businesses.

This objective is achieved through business training covering merchandizing, bookkeeping and customer service, mentorship and coaching in addition to grants in form of Nestlé products valued at 300% of their monthly sales at the time of joining the program.
The beneficiaries are subsequently registered in a 3-month mentorship program and each woman is linked to a personal mentor for one-on-one coaching to ensure adoption of the
key learnings from the training received to achieve the desired success. Over 60% of the
beneficiaries achieve the 300% target growth within the 3-month coaching period!

Aminat Kolawole is one of the 332 women across the country, supported by Nestlé Nigeria to scale up their businesses through the Nestlé Rural Women empowerment
Program. Aminat, an indigene of Batoro community in Ogun state, has been running a small business for 8 years in Sagamu, where she sells food and beverages, toiletries,
drinks, house-hold consumables among others. She is excited that her business, Idera Oluwa stores, was selected for the project. “I believe that this opportunity will provide the necessary knowledge and resources to grow my business so I can earn more money to support my family and cater for my children’s education”.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 7th batch into the Project in Sagamu, Nestlé Nigeria’s Commercial Manager, Khaled Ramadan, said “Creating shared value within our
communities is core in the way we do business. At Nestlé, we strive to make positive impact on society while ensuring the sustainability of our business. The Rural Women
Empowerment Program is not a one-time event but an ongoing process of value creation.
The stories and testimonials from previous beneficiaries, particularly 100% to 200% business growth within three months of joining the program, encourages us to do more.
Onboarding women from Sagamu, one of our host communities, is a significant milestone in our commitment to empowerment and sustainable development and we are proud to have an opportunity to make a tangible difference in their lives”.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Phranklin Audu, Lead Facilitator & Head, Strategic Partnerships at FDConsults, implementation partner of Nestlé Empowering Rural Women
in Nigeria Project said, “We have amazing testimonials from previous beneficiaries.

Through this project, Nestlé continues to help solve the challenge of poverty by empowering rural women across Nigerian communities, lifting them off the poverty spectrum and improving their livelihoods. We are delighted to be project partners for the
training and mentoring on this credible initiative”.
According to Kabiesi Odofin Soyindo who represented the Akarigbo of Remoland, HRM Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, “I commend Nestlé for this sustainable venture and
empowerment of Sagamu women. This is a noble initiative, and we are glad that our community is benefitting from corporate programs like this from Nestlé. To the
beneficiaries, I urge you to establish your priorities and judiciously use the grants provided to you for the expansion of your businesses”.
Expressing her delight on behalf of other beneficiaries, Aminat said, “We are greatly pleased at the opportunity to be included in this program. We are looking forward to the learning and mentoring sessions which will equip us to run our businesses more effectively. A big thank you to Nestlé for investing in us.

Our promise to the company is
that we will maximize this opportunity for the benefit of our families and communities”.
For Folasade Ogunjimi of Save Way Stores Sagamu, another beneficiary of the program,
“This is the first time a company is bringing this amazing initiative to retailers in Sagamu in my 25 years of running this business. We sincerely appreciate this well planned and considerate gesture by Nestlé towards supporting and expanding our businesses”.

Community leaders, including the Vice Chairman of Sagamu Local Government Area and
Executive members of the Royal Initiative for the Development of Sagamu Community, RIDSCO, also attended the event.

Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project began in August 2021, with 50 female retailers from the suburbs of Abuja. Currently, 332 women from the South-East, North-East, South-South and South-West regions of the country are benefitting from the
program. Over 80% of the beneficiaries have seen their incomes grow and can support
their families better.

Through the program, Nestlé is helping rural women in Nigeria build financial security to
improve their standard of living.

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Fashion Icon, Seyi Vodi Set to Empower Youth Entrepreneurs




Oluwaseyi Adekunle, popularly known as Seyi Vodi

A prominent fashion designer and entrepreneur, Oluwaseyi Adekunle, popularly known as Seyi Vodi, has announced a fresh plan to empower scores of Nigerian youths and start ups with various resources in the fashion and lifestyle business.

The unprecedented move is the first in the annals of history of empowerment initiatives in the fashion and entertainment industry in the nation.

Beneficiaries across all the 36 states in Nigeria would be rewarded with various items including cash, work tools, equipment and other related resources that would help them jump start and leapfrog their businesses in the fashion and lifestyle industry.

Modalities and dates would be announced soon.

Regarded as one of the top designers in the country, Vodi, an alumnus of the prestigious University of Maiduguri, has been involved in various charity initiatives and empowerment programmes in a bid to assist youths towards self sufficiency and growth at his Abuja office.

In 2022, Vodi donated the whooping sum of #5million to the University of Maiduguri to support its fund raising move for the acquisition of solar panels in order to generate electricity for students especially during exams.

Adekunle, who is the founder of Vodi Group, was born in Lagos State but hails from Osun State. He had earlier stated that he went into fashion after failing the test for a bank job.

The graduate of Geology registered his company in 2001 as Testimony Fabrics, before changing the name to ‘Vodi’ in 2003.

Earlier in June, he was conferred with the honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger.

This also prompted him to continue giving back to the society.

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Sterling Bank, SMEDAN To Create Nigeria’s Largest SME Database




Sterling Bank’s logo

Lagos, Nigeria, 28 June 2023: One of Africa’s fastest-growing companies, Sterling Bank, has recently signed an agreement with the Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to establish a comprehensive database of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria. This will help in scaling intervention programs and providing tailored solutions that truly contribute to the growth of SMEs.

The signing ceremony took place in Lagos, where the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, expressed his optimism about the collaboration. He emphasised that genuine collaborations, driven by opportunity rather than regulation, often yield positive outcomes. He regarded this partnership as one of those promising ventures, highlighting that no external regulatory pressure compelled their cooperation.

Suleiman stressed the MoU’s significance while noting the critical role of data in economic development. He asserted that the agreement marks the beginning of a journey towards a formalised economy, enabling the government to intervene effectively when necessary. Suleiman also emphasised the importance of SMEs having access to capital based on their historical data. In order to do this, he stressed the importance of developing an atmosphere that motivates SMEs to self-report, even if it is just to be eligible for SMEDAN services. Furthermore, Suleiman emphasised that self-reporting is the initial step for small and medium businesses to become auditable institutions.

Sterling Bank is committed to dedicating its resources to the success of the MoU and will advocate for government support of SMEs. Suleiman noted that the outcomes of this collaboration would benefit the entire banking industry, not just Sterling Bank.

Mr Olawale Fasanya, Director General of SMEDAN, expressed his appreciation for the bank’s initiative and highlighted the MoU’s immense value to SMEDAN’s operations. Fasanya stressed the criticality of data to their activities, citing their recent online registration of SMEs. Despite registering approximately 3.8 million SMEs through this initiative, the data still requires cleaning. Fasanya emphasized that the availability of accurate data would enable SMEDAN to connect SMEs operating within the same market.

Mustapha Otaru, Chief Product Officer at Sterling Bank, described the bank’s approach to managing SMEs as an ecosystem and emphasised the federal government’s importance of collaboration with SMEDAN. He acknowledged that progress is impossible without such partnerships.

Otaru said that in addition to providing access to finance, Sterling Bank aims to nurture
SMEs and support their growth from micro to corporate levels. The bank achieves this through innovative solutions such as its common facility for fashion entrepreneurs and special bundled offerings. Sterling Bank’s products, according to Otaru, are strategically designed to align with its HEART (Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Transportation) strategy, which the bank adopted in 2018 to focus its investments on key sectors of the economy.

Bolanle Tyson, the Head of SME Products at Sterling Bank, underscored the integral role of SMEs in economic growth. She expressed her enthusiasm for the partnership with SMEDAN, envisioning a lasting collaboration that leverages combined resources to drive economic growth.

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