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Young Business Leaders Award

The LiveWIRE Young Business Leaders Award is a significant progress award for young persons who have sustained a business for 2 to 3 years. The awards which will be run on annual basis is targeted at young men and women, who are already running their businesses but require encouragement and advice to improve their product, services and markets. The Overarching Goal of the award is to promote young people running their own businesses and to provide additional capital that would enable young persons already in business to strengthen their business through expansion or diversification.

The award process started with adverts in national and regional print media. 18 finalists (entrepreneurs) were selected from hundreds of applicants, based on field verifications of business existence, and the write-ups submitted for the awards, for the final interviews. Write-ups were graded based on legal status of business, age of business, background/history, business size (staff strength and assets as indicators of financial growth and employment generation), future plan for the business (vision), and plans for the award. The panel of judges for the 2003 awards was constituted by; Dr. Noel Ihebuzor (Zonal Co-ordinator, UNICEF), Mr. Steve Madojemu (Regional Manager South-South, Fortune Bank), Godwin Ehigiamusoe (Executive Director, Lift Above Poverty Organisation), Dr. Christy Atako (Deputy Director, Niger Delta Development), Mr. E. Akintola (Executive Director, Community Development Foundation) and Olukayode Soremekun (Corporate Community Development Advisor, SPDC).

Belema Ogbuigwe, from Rivers State, Nigeria, winner of the 2003 LiveWIRE Young Business Leaders Award, is an IT consultant. Her business, Optimal Computers and Information Systems is involved in IT training, computer and other IT hardware sales, and provision of IT based business support services. She started Optimal Computers shortly after her 1-year national service, following her graduation from University, with Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. Her interaction with people and businesses, knowledge and analysis of the product/service gap within her environment (locality) at that time, led to the set up of Optimal Computers in Agbor, Delta State, her husband’s home state, in February 1, 1999.

From humble beginnings, Optimal Computers has become a higher seven-figure business (local currency) in turnover, with 8 full time employees at the time of the awards. Within the last four years of existence, the business has trained over 400 persons in various IT skills. For Belema, the award was a motivation for greater achievements and diversification into other IT and IT related businesses. It was an extra push to bring some business plans she had been nursing into reality. The Port Harcourt branch of the business got on stream after the awards and is scheduled for launching, July 15, 2003.

There were 9 other awards for 2003, 2 in the runners-up category (Aniefiok Erasmus, 22, Generator Leasing and Repairs and Lambert Odudu, an ex-Shell Vocational Skills trainee involved in welding and fabrication, general supplies and contracting), and 7 consolation prizes.


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