Grant Support for Internet-Friendly Entrepreneurs

Internet Group Seeks Beneficiaries for I4J
By Efem Nkanga
(From ThisDay Newspapers, 04.23.2008)

In a bid to empower youths and engender self reliant jobs, the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) has announced that it will sponsor the internet 14J initiative and will seek beneficiaries for the initiative to aid youths in the country to be self reliant and to boost employment.

President NIG, Engr. Lanre Ajayi disclosed at the end of a session with committee chairmen of the group, which held in Lagos, recently , saying that every notable strategy have been put in place to ensure that those to be selected as beneficiaries would meet the laid down requirement.
Engr. Ajayi who is also the chief executive PiNet Informatics, said that NIG has been reviewing processes since the launch of the initiative on July 12, last year by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Professor Cleopas Angaye, at a colourful ceremony also held in Lagos, on how best to ensure transparency and best practices in the exercise.

He pointed out that interested Nigerians, especially the youths and upcoming entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate in the initiative by merely submitting their project details through form at http://i4j.nig.org.ng.

‘Simply fill a form on I4J website and submit your project, then the relevant committee would evaluate and get back to the owners,’ he declared. ‘I4J is a brainchild of NIG designed to critically examine and discover the potentials inherent in the Internet to generate jobs for the populace and transform the nation eventually’, Ajayi said.

According to him, currently NIG has been able to attract some Promoters for the I4J Initiative, which include Zenith Bank Plc, representing the private sector, NITDA and NCC both representing the government of Nigeria in a multi-sectoral partnership formed soon after the initiative was launched.

He reiterated that the NIG vision for I4J, is to use the platform to transform Nigeria into an Information Society where business and government services are available online and the citizens positively engaged in knowledge-driven economic activities.

‘I4J is intended to address some challenges facing the nation, especially in the areas of high rate of unemployment in the country and improve upon the current low adoption of Information Technology in Nigerian businesses and governments sectors,’ he said.

Engr. Ajayi emphasized that the Initiative is intended to close the widening digital divide between Nigeria and the developed world by way of engaging some Nigerians in the fight against Internet scam.

In addition, he said, I4J strategy is to boost the current low skill and expertise in the area of Information Technology and the inability of good IT business dreams to see the light of the day by attracting start up funding locally. He expressed the optimism that opportunities abound in the country that could enhance the velocity of changing the nation into an Information Society, mostly if properly harnessed.

‘We must not loose sight that Nigerians are highly intelligent and can easily be trained to adopt new technologies. Nigerians are also enterprising and if appropriately motivated can do extremely well in business including online businesses’, he said.

The beneficiaries, he said, would be supported by grants to be managed independently and provided by the sponsors of an I4J initiative project of choice.

‘The grant shall not be given in cash to the beneficiary but used to pay for services supported by the I4J initiative. These services include web portal development, training – Information Technology and Entrepreneurship and marketing’, he explained.

He also underscored the need for the grant, saying that it would enable beneficiaries to set up online services, which are in demand or may be in demand by their target communities or market.

‘The amount of the grant to be given to each beneficiary shall be determined by the sponsor that selects the beneficiary’s project,’ he informed. He, therefore, appealed to individuals, corporate organizations, government; local, state and federal as well as their agencies, to take part in the initiative either as a potential recipient or promoter.Admission of beneficiaries, he said, would be based on some criterion, which the opportunity for sustainability, contribute significantly to the social and economic development of Nigeria.

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