Zakat Foundation grows SMEs with N44.9m in four years

Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation has supported Muslim Entrepreneurs with N44.9 million grants through its Business Plan Competition aimed at growing the small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.

Prince Sulayman Olagunju, the Executive Director of the Foundation made this revelation at the “Accountability Forum & gathering of Friends of ZSF”, held at the weekend in Lagos.

“Through the Business Plan Competition (BPC), precisely from the last four editions, we have been able to support both technically and financially, young talents with fresh ideas and promote creativity and innovation among the growing businesses owned by Muslim entrepreneurs.

“No fewer than N44.9 million have been spent so far on this project in support of carefully selected new and growing SMEs in Nigeria and in promotion of Muslim entrepreneurs across the country.

“Besides, with the introduction of Entrepreneurship Development Training in 2018, we have been able to carefully select and train 100 business owners and willing Muslim entrepreneurs across the country.

“Overall, we are glad to say that no fewer than 180 people have benefited from this project from the first edition in 2015 to date,’’ Olagunju said.

He expressed the hope that the foundation would raise the bar this year by increasing the number of participants and eventual beneficiaries.

“We considered all these as our modest way to help reduce unemployment and raise hope of the creative and innovative minds among young Nigerians.’’

Delivering a keynote address at the forum, Dr Luqman AbdurRaheem, who is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurial Development from Nigeria-American University, Yola Adamawa State, spoke on the importance of “Collaboration” in growing a nation’s economy.

“Collaboration relies on openness, accountability and standard business ethics, thorough due diligence, knowledge sharing and clearly defined objectives set by collaborating entities.

“Collaboration is defined as a working practice whereby individuals, groups, organisations and countries work together for a common purpose thereby achieving short, medium and long-term benefits “It also refers to a situation where two or more people, groups, organisations and countries are working together to create something new in support of their strategic shared vision and agenda,’’

AbdurRaheem said. According to him, collaboration is inevitable in contemporary times because players are tired of engaging in unprofitable competition and unnecessary rivalries that are time-wasting and very expensive to sustain. “Business players in the industry have realised the futility in doing-it-alone programs; they have decided to collaborate around a shared vision, and consequently, something new is being created from a joint effort of collaborators.

“It is common to hear, Consortium of companies, Joint Ventures, Mergers of big companies, Buy-overs, Public Offers by private companies. At the international level, there are regional collaborations such as ECOWAS, NAFTA, EU, AU, OECD and several other notable examples.’’

One of the friends and collaborators of ZSF on the BPC, Alhaji Tajudeen Sekoni, who is the Managing Director of Al-Barakah Micro-Finance Limited, expressed delight at the progress being made by the foundation in the area of growing entrepreneurial initiatives in Nigeria.

“I’m happy and impressed with what have heard from the testimonies of the beneficiaries of the programme at the accountability forum.

“For us at Al-Barakah, Insha Allah, we are going to double our contribution (to the competition) this year, because we can see the positive impact of the programme in our society,’’ Sekoni said.

The Renaissance reports that five beneficiary entrepreneurs, who have either won star or consolation prizes in the previous editions of BPC gave testimony of how their participation in the competition had greatly assisted in growing their businesses.

The beneficiaries who shared their experiences are Mr Sofola Azeez, CEO of Peace Vision Global Enterprise; Tajudeen Olabanji, CEO of Finegas Limited; Muhammed Mutin Orunsolu, CEO of Enarrate Limited (Internet Radio); Mrs Alimat Olaide Tijani, CEO of Pacesetter Eduservices (PES) and Yusuf Aminah Ajike, CEO of Lojo Modest Wear Limited.

By Oluwashina Iyanda (The Renaissance News)

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