The TONY ELUMELU ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM is an annual programme that identifies and funds over one thousand entrepreneurs in Africa whose ideas has the potential of creating jobs and prosperity.
This fund comes in two tranches, the first $5000 is a grant referred to as a seed capital which is non refundable while the second tranche of $5000 comes as equity investment to entrepreneurs whose ideas scaled the startup phase. This second tranche is refundable either as loan or as a convertible equity.
The program will start receiving application from the first of January, 2018 and as a benefactor of this scheme, I will be sharing some tips on how best you can answer the application questions.
Application Questions and Tips for Answering.
What is the name of your company?
Tip: here you are expected to write the name of your company whether registered or not registered. It is not fundamental you apply with a registered company but however, if you application sails through, you will be required to register your company before you get the grant.
Tip: write down the country of your business residence
Tip: Here you are expected to write down your selling factors. You can think of this as your personal elevator pitch. Don’t start telling them your name or age or even where you come from, all that is already captured in the contact session. Instead tell them what drives you and why you think you are the best person to receive the fund.
E.g. I am a graduate of computer science from Federal Polytechnic Oko. I have great passion for combating climate change in the world. This passion has led me into starting up a company that will recycle materials that contribute to global warming when not disposed well.
(It could be longer than this depending on your narrative but do not exceed the word limit provided on the application portal and be brief as much as possible)
Leadership Skill & Experience
Tip: Nobody wants to give money to irresponsible people, so in this section you are expected to highlight your leadership skills or previous work experience. It may not really be super-duper leadership skill or work experience, they just want to know if you have been responsible for any progress in the past. So instead of writing I worked as the CEO of x company or as an intern in x company you are expected to highlight also your achievement(s) in those roles
During my internship as an assistant to the customer care officer in x company, I developed a feedback form through which the company learnt of our customers experience and designed the system to better suit them.
Tip: here you are expected to talk of any personal achievements. Was there something you built or help facilitated that you are very much proud of, are you currently working on a project to change people’s life or create new jobs. Here is the section to narrate all that and it is advisable to stay around the scope of what you intend to use for your application.
E.g. I built an online drop shipping company where I buy from Amazon and resell to my customers and also deliver to their door steps. My last client gave me 30% extra of what I charged him due to the fact I met his satisfaction and even more. I am very proud of this achievement because I intend to open more delivery outlets across the nation.
Tip: the elevator pith is the life of your application, here is what determine to the most part the success of your application.
So what is an Elevator Pitch?
This is a 50 word summary that covers investor interested tenets of your current business or proposed business idea. Let’s say you meet Bill gate in an elevator and he has just 30 seconds before the elevator hits his departure floor, what are the very words you want to tell him to make him give you an appointment or want to invest in your idea.
Don’t start telling him how skillful you are or your leadership skill, this is not the time for all that. Go straight to your product, the problem it’s solving, the demand and your market share.
So here is a brief example of an elevator pitch:
Do you know that the recycling industry is currently worth 500Billion dollars and yet about eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean on a yearly basis causing water pollution which drives sea life into extinction? My company vents into seas and recycles these plastics into wearables.
Tip: in this section you are now expected to elaborate your elevator pitch above. Talk more about the product, how will you produce? How will you reach out to customers? The current market worth, your market share and long term goals.
Tip: here you are expected to say something very incredible or fascinating about your business idea, you shouldn’t sound generic or myopic.
You can share a wonderful opportunity or niche that exists in your business, a customer rating, quote figures of people that is already benefitting from your business or stream of revenue from first investment.
E.g. I have preregistered and accepted payments from one hundred persons who likes my payment application and they are eagerly waiting for the launching date to start making use of it.
Tip: in this section you talk about the problem your product/service is solving. Do magnify your impact and feel free to brag but stay truthful at all cost. It is also advisable to highlight numerical statistics to persons or things your product/service will impact.
E.g. my inventory app will completely eliminate the manual method of taking stocks in both small and big companies. Most companies usually take stock quarterly or yearly which usually takes up to a week to compile and collate stocks, my inventory app is eliminating the need for any manual form of stock checking as the app will give up to date information of stock flow on a daily basis
Tip: Here you will select from a list of option which stage your business is.
Please there is no need to exaggerate as the foundation encourages businesses from 0 -3 years of existence to apply.
Please select your company’s primary industry sector
Tip: here you select from a list which sector best defines your business. It could be manufacturing, Agriculture. Production, services, etc.
Tip: Here you will select from a list the sustainable development goals your business addresses. See this link to learn about the SDGs http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html
Tip: here you identify whether your company is registered or not
Business Start Year
Tip: here you indicate the year you started your company
Type of Business Entity
Tip: you should indicate your business entity. Are you a sole proprietor or into partnership? Here is the place to indicate it.
Tip: How big is the addressable market for your product or service? How many people are or will be in demand of your product/services
e.g. At the startup phase, the company will focus on people residing in the Awka metropolis which is estimated to have about 301,657 inhabitants and about 76% of this population which is estimated to be about 232,000 is our target market.
Tip: the foundation is only interested in for profit businesses so if you are running a social profit, you should check the next door as a lot of other organization sponsors not for profit ventures also. In this section, applicants are expected to talk about how they will make money from the product/service they are offering and also indicate how profitable their business is.
E.g. we will raise money by charging an extra 10 percent of the cost of items from Amazon, we will also get a 20 percent share from the delivery channels we partner with to deliver item to our customers. We have projected a net income of about three million and twenty eight thousand Naira(3,028,000) in the first year, #4.6m in the second year and up to #13.7m in the fifth year of its operation.
Tip: in this section you are expected to explain how you intend discovering your customers. What channels will you use and how will you communicate your products to them. It can be from adverts placements, seminars, digital marketing, word of mouth marketing, etc.
List your top 3 competitors:
Tip: please do not make the common mistake of writing that you do not have a competitor, check around or even use the internet to find people doing either the same thing or similar thing as you. List the top three in this section.
What differentiates you?
Tip: here you can talk about your unique value proposition or unique selling points. What difference or value added service are you bringing to the table, why should customer x buy from you instead of your competitor.
Why should an investor invest in your business instead of your competitors?
This is known to you alone and you are expected to articulate it in this section.
E.g.: my products will be cost effective because I produce my own raw materials unlike my competitors who buys raw materials from vendors at a high price.
Tip: in this section you are expected to write what you have achieved since the conception of your business idea. It’s ok if you have not really done anything but most times this question is used to determine your passion for running the business. There has to be something you have done whether big or small. It could just be validating the business idea or gathering opinion from your potential customers.
Tip: this is a test question to understand your goals and vision for your business, what stage will your business be in the next few months, how many more staff will you be able to employ, how much more customers will you have adopted in the next few months, will you open more offices/ point of sales? You need to detail all that in this section.
What is the total amount of cash invested to date in this startup?
Tip: you are expected to note your cash expenses upto date, it could be money for transport, cost o printing a questionnaire or any forms of funds. if your business is already existing then you are expected to indicate your investment capital. If you have not spent anything on this business yet please leave this column empty.
What are your current monthly cash expenses?
Tip: this can also be seen as your monthly running cost. How much do you spend monthly to keep the business up and doing, it could be utility bills, fuel cost, office logistics, etc.
Tip: Lifetime Revenue is a simpler variant of the Customer Lifetime Value calculation. What is the anticipated revenue a given customer contributes to the business? It’s okay to make projections but be realistic.
What is the projected breakeven revenues for the business?
Tip: Break even simply denotes a point at which you become profitable. Let’s say your capital investment for a company plus operation cost is $2000 then you will break even once you make sales worth 2500$.
Tip: this denotes the quantity of commodity you will sell or service you will provide in order to break even. Like the illustration above, let’s say x company had to sell 5 sets of furniture to earn $2500 then the breakeven volume is 5 furniture.
Tip: Describe what impact your business will have within your community, country for job creation, revenue generation or social development?
Here you are advised to dwell more on the impact your business idea will make, highlight both tangible and intangible achievements. Use numerical values to highlight your impact and be sure to mention revenue values.
What are some of the challenges you face in operating or launching your business?
Tip: here you are expected to narrate challenges that may hinder your business progress but it is also advisable to point out how you intend to address it. These challenges may be Government policies, power instability, bad road networks, high cost of raw materials, etc.
Explain briefly what you hope to achieve from the 9 month entrepreneurship programme?
Tip: Winners from this application will be subjected to an intensive online entrepreneurship training so as a potential winner you are expected to highlight what you intend to achieve from the online program. This question in most cases will be used to further improve your experience on the online program and possibly used to understand your expectations from the program.
What business skills do you most need to learn about?
Tip: every entrepreneur is expected to be self-aware. You should be able to understand your strength and weaknesses so this question is tailored to help identify your weaknesses as you will be matched with a corresponding mentor during the online program to aid you in further developing yourself and your product.
For more information or questions kindly drop a comment in the comment section.
if you need mentorship for your business or career goals please do fill out the form in this address to get in touch: http://nzubeokonkwo.org/mentorship/
Goodluck to all Applicant !