Thursday 10 July 2014

Nigerian entrepreneurs get a lesson in business from Richard Branson

 Two of Nigeria’s brightest young entrepreneurs have had a business master class from Sir Richard Branson, after winning a competition by the British Council and Virgin Atlantic in Partnership with Zenith Bank.

Eseoghene Ise Odiete and Nasir Abdulqadir Yammama won the Enterprise Challenge – an online competition for Nigerians entrepreneurs aged 18-35 and living in Nigeria or studying in the UK. The Apprentice-style competition took place over three rounds, during which candidates wrote an essay on their entrepreneurial journeys, created a video pitch for their businesses or business plans, and had their ideas scrutinised by a panel of experts in Nigeria and the UK.

The mentoring session between the 2 winners of the enterprise challenge competition and Sir Richard Branson took place on the 1st of July in London. The session was designed so that the winners could ask about and learn from the magnate’s life and business experiences. At the end of the meeting it turned out to be more than a mentoring session, it was a master class which everyone benefitted from. 

Sir Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman Virgin Group, said: “Virgin Atlantic is delighted to have supported the Enterprise Challenge program dedicated to supporting young Nigerian entrepreneurs and fostering new ideas. Innovation has been an important part of Virgin's heritage and I was pleased to see so many young Nigerians keen to embrace new ideas through the competition. Many congratulations to Ese and Nasir who had fantastic business plans and I’m sure will have very bright futures.”

Eseoghene Ise Odiete runs Hesey Designs – an online store selling African-inspired accessories, which also helps to empower and mentor other young African women. She said: “It was an awesome experience meeting and learning from Richard Branson; one that will change my life and business and take it to a whole new level. I am super grateful for the opportunity.”

Nasir Abdulqadir Yammama, a Postgraduate student at Middlesex University in London, won with a business plan for a mobile phone app called Verdant to help crop farmers. He said: “The Enterprise Challenge has been a remarkable competition which I thoroughly enjoyed. I believe it has not only developed my skills but exposed me to a whole new way of looking things from writing to pitching and presentation. Also, the calibre of people I have been able to interact and network with is the absolute thing every aspiring entrepreneur and innovator wishes to associate with. And Meeting Sir Richard Branson was a priceless opportunity that I will continue to value immensely. I have been able to acquire so much wisdom and inspiration that I feel ready and bound to exceed all expectation.”

Over 1000 young Nigerian entrepreneurs entered the competition – which was organised by the British Council in partnership with Virgin Atlantic and with financial support from Zenith Bank in order to help talented young Nigerians develop their entrepreneurial skills.

In addition to their meeting with Richard Branson, the winners each received a £5000 grant, courtesy Zenith Bank to help them develop their businesses, a fully-funded scholarship to attend a 5-day entrepreneurship foundation course at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa, and two return tickets to the UK.

Notes to Editor

 Media contacts:

Desmond Omovie – Communications Manager, British Council Nigeria

+234-818 6548869 / 

Kudirat Scott-Igbene - PR & Marketing Executive, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd

+2348035250593 /

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year teaching English, sharing the Arts and in education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A publically-funded grant-in-aid provides less than a quarter of our turnover which last year was £781m.  The rest we earn from English teaching, UK exams and services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with other institutions, brands and companies.  All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and creates prosperity and security for the UK and the countries we work in all around the world.

For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and

About Virgin Atlantic:

Virgin Atlantic Airwayswas founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson almost 30 years ago after he decided the UK aviation industry needed shaking up. On 22nd June 1984, Virgin Atlantic's inaugural flight to Newark took place, on an aircraft filled with personal friends, celebrities and the media.

Today, Virgin Atlantic flies to 35 destinations worldwide, including locations across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Far EastSome of its most recent additions to its flying network include Cancun, Vancouver, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester.