Middlesex student wins award and master class with Branson

29th Aug 2014

[Creative Technologies Masters student Nasir Abdulqadir Yammama with Sir Richard Branson]

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Middlesex University student has had a business master class with Sir Richard Branson after winning a competition to find young outstanding Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Creative Technologies Masters student, Nasir Abdulqadir Yammama, beat thousands of competitors to win the Enterprise Challenge – an online competition run by the British Council and Virgin Atlantic, in partnership with Zenith Bank.

Targeted at Nigerians aged 18-35, the apprentice-style competition took place over three rounds, during which candidates wrote essays about their entrepreneurial journeys, created video pitches for their businesses or business plans, and had their ideas scrutinised by a panel of experts in Nigeria and the UK.

Nasir, 24, won with a business plan for a mobile phone app called Verdant, designed to help crop farmers.

In a statement to The Muslim News Nasir explained: “I come from a farming family in Nigeria and wanted to use my interests, skills and career to help farmers. The app is like a companion for farmers and brings together intelligence they wouldn’t normally have had access to. Hopefully it will help them farm more effectively and increase their business.”

The app will allow farmers access to a wealth of intelligence including the type of soil their farm is on, what fertilisers would be best suited, market intelligence, weather forecasts, and annual rainfall and its effect on particular crops. It would also offer a marketplace, where farmers could easily purchase farming products using their smartphone.

The plan impressed the judges and secured Nasir a mentoring session in London with Sir Richard Branson and the second winner of the competition, Eseoghene Ise Odieteruns. Eseoghene runs Hesey Designs – an online store selling African-inspired accessories.

The session was designed so that the winners could ask about and learn from the magnate’s life and business experiences.

Talking about the mentoring opportunity, Nasir said: “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.”

Sir Branson commented: “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.”

Each winner also received a £5,000 grant, 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.

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