Since the announcement of an eighth edition in August, the 25under25 awards has been one of the most anticipated entrepreneurial events by young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. After what seemed like a long wait, the award was celebrated in a grand style, meeting and exceeding several expectations.
In case you missed the award ceremony, here are 9 things from the 25 under 25 Awards 2023 event that you should know:
1. HELLO Ibadan
The 25 under 25 awards was held in Ibadan for the first time at Jogor Centre, New GRA, Ibadan. During the late hours of the bright and chirpy October morning, guests began to flood the venue, walking onto the red carpet with stunning shoes on their feets and enthusiasm in their eyes. Nominees, Parents of Nominees, and general well-wishers expressed how excited they were for the day. With the positive reception and sentiments received, who knows, the 25 under 25 team may be looking at taking the event round the different cities of Nigeria and Africa in the future.
The Oyo State Government proudly supported this year’s ceremony, showing Gov. Seyi Makinde’s commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship, fostering innovation, driving economic growth in Nigeria, and empowering the next generation of business leaders.
3. Nominees Briefing
As soon as the nominees settled, they were all taken to a separate, intimate hall to be welcomed and admonished. They were quickly welcomed by the 25 under 25 team and addressed by the CEO of Truthware Solutions, Mr. Deji Macaulay. He had a clandestine tête à tête with them and encouraged them, using his life story and work as a focal point. Certificates of recognition were also presented to every nominee by the Head of Operations of SME100 Africa, Oluwarotimi Peter.
3. ARISE, Oh Compatriots
Held a day after the official date for celebrating Nigeria’s independence, the event opened with an orchestra interlude and the singing of the National anthem to commemorate our great country’s feat so far, and mark her 63rd year.
4. All Protocols Duly Observed
The event was hosted by two of the finest in the industry, Victory Wilson (host) and LUMEE (co-host). They set the mood and made the introduction of guests. Present in the event was the representative of the Governor of Oyo State; a representative of His Imperial Majesty, the Olubadan of Ibadan; a representative of the Honourable Speaker of Oyo State; a representative of the Director General of SMEDAN, Dir. Olawale Fasanya; a representative of the founder of SME100 Africa; the Commissioner of Youth and Sports, Hon. Adegoke Wasilat; our Executive Director, Remi Ademiju; CEO of Truthware Solutions, Deji Macaulay; Auntie Debbie; and other dignitaries.
5. An 8-Week Incubator Program
As soon as the introduction of guests was concluded, a welcome address was given by the new Executive Director of SME100 Africa, Remi Ademiju. Remi welcomed all the invited guests once again, admonished the nominees, and shared his vision for this edition. He explained that the theme of this edition, Empowering Dreams, was selected to reflect our effort in broadening our reach, intensifying our impact, and giving every entrepreneur an opportunity to be integrated into an 8-week incubation program meticulously curated for their growth. “We also recognize the pivotal role of capital in business expansion, so we will also be providing avenues for business owners to access much-needed funds,” he emphasized.
6. New Class, Who dis?
Also present at the event were some of the past winners. We witnessed the esteemed alumni, from as far back as ‘Class of 2012,’ come from different locations to support the young entrepreneurs. Daniel Samuel, The Ope, Esther, and Michael Panda took to the stage to encourage the young entrepreneurs, congratulate the incoming Class of 2023 in advance, as well as appreciate the 25under25 awards for the initiative and support during their time.
7. The 25
The hour everyone had waited for finally came. The moment was filled with excitement and suspense. Presentation of the award kicked off with the representative of the Honourable Speaker of Oyo State presenting the awards for the finance and fintech, food & drinks, and health & skincare categories. It was then followed by the representative of the Director General of SMEDAN; CEO of Truthware Solutions, Deji Macaulay; the representative of the founder of SME100 Africa; the Commissioner of Youth and Sports, Hon. Adegoke Wasilat; Auntie Debbie; Precious Eniayekan (an Alumnus) and our Executive Director, Remi Ademiju, presenting different sets of the award categories.
8. Entertainment Meets Enterprise
The energy in the event was beautifully raised at intervals during breaks by some music performers and other performances. As this show went on, there was an ongoing exhibition outside the event hall by different small and medium-scale businesses in the SME100 Africa and SMEDAN network. This showcase was met by its own dance and music entertainment provided by the event to spice up the exhibition.
9. SME100 Africa x Class Of 2023
The event drew to a successful close after the presentation of all the awards and announcements of the winners and the new Class of 2023. A vote of thanks was given by Oluwarotimi Peters and Auntie Debbie, who appreciated the Oyo State Government as well as other special guests for their immense support. The event wrapped up with an on-stage photo session for the SME100 Africa team and the new Class of 2023.
The SME100 Africa 25under25 Awards 2023 was a successful, delightful, and important event. Its role in inspiring and recognizing the innovative spirits of young Nigerian entrepreneurs, enhancing various facets of their businesses, and equipping them with valuable tools for sustainable growth cannot be overstated. It continues to stand as a testament to the incredible potential of our nation’s youth in shaping a brighter future.