Year after year, thousands of bright-eyed, ambitious graduates walk out of the hallowed halls of institutions of higher learning and into the larger world. Among these graduates will be the next generation of innovators, founders, entrepreneurs and small business owners. These adventurers some armed with well-defined business plans and others with nothing but dreams and moxie, are determined to follow the road less traveled and carve out their own unique career paths.

But before turning down a steady job or packing away the interview suit, recent grads need to evaluate if they truly have what it takes to start a business. CACS is designed to help build these dreamers, through competitions, inventions and innovations.

In order to ensure that Nigerian youths are equipped to play pivotal roles in the national economic growth, SEF have devised a platform to imbue in the youths, basic entrepreneurial skills. College Academy Contest Series, CACS, is the platform designed to build, inspire and inculcate into our youths the entrepreneurial skills for the building of prosperous future. It is an avenue to harness, hone and channel their skills for the overall economic advancement of the nation.

CACS is a major requisite to benefit from SEF by an aspiring entrepreneurial student from any tertiary institution in Nigeria. CACS is designed to encourage education and entrepreneurial advancement in Nigeria, and indeed, Africa.

The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine-tune their business plans and elevator pitches to receive funding and maximize the commercialization of their products. Competition highlights include real-world opportunities to learn what it takes to successfully launch a new business and a chance to receive mentoring from investors and experienced entrepreneurs.

Roadmap To CACS

The goal of this competition is to increase student appreciation for the challenges of developing a business. All students are encouraged to apply, either as individual or as a team. In case of a team, each team must consist of at least two but no more than ten students, however, graduates can be among the team. Winning the competition depends on the team’s ability to produce a successful business plan, innovation or new invention. Whereby contestants are showcasing new innovation or new invention; we advice contestants to find resources like mentors and advisors at the early stage.

The competition will start with business plan contest. This business plan competition comprises six categories: information technology/software, social entrepreneurship/non profit, clean technology, advanced technology, products, and services. Teams for this competition must consist of graduate and undergraduate from all tertiary institutions in the country.

This competition allows entries as long as the plan demonstrates both economic and social value in the business venture. Teams also must include either a current student or a recent graduate from any level of higher education. Through this competition, entrepreneurs receive mentoring, exposure and the chance to win more than N500,000,000 in prizes.

CACS is the foundation upon which rewards for winners stand. Rewards are multi- dimensional. The greatest benefit of CACS is that it drives students to study, encourage reading habits, innovations, fire competitive minds and expand their frontier of knowledge. The secret is that there is something more important all the students will want to achieve in CACS: apart from the Certificates of Participation to students who participated in the contests, it provides research grants, fund exchange programmes for science students in particular. Above all, it provides “Mentoring and Project Monitoring” to winners through its ‘CollegeAssist Program.

SEF has set up a mentoring system for the Winners with volunteers to guide and mentor winners and all participants on the dynamics of the business world. Series of seminars and trainings are available for them online and through classroom system. Newsletters are released quarterly, stories and progresses are reported in the Newsletter. All efforts are being deployed to ensure their growth and that they remain focused.

Each winner and participants will be assigned a volunteer, to monitor both their academic and moral upbringing; these mentors serve as advisors to them. These will continue for at least two years after graduation and progress reviewed ten years post- graduation. CACS is not about Contests but about Values.

SEF is designed to allow students organize activities relating to their interests and values, SEF complements the students’ learning on new business, new products, developments and innovations; with practical insights into the methods, processes and values of how small businesses contribute to national economic development and individual standards of living, thus strengthening national unity and security of lives and properties through the creation of jobs.

SEF Career Centre (SEF-CC) Of course we know that not all students will go on to run their own businesses, but all of them will develop crucial business and employability skills fundamental to their future successes and continuous professional developments. Our SEF Career Centre (SEF-CC) offers series of career- related workshops for students and most especially those students aspiring for international careers. SEF-CC offer free services on:

  • Information
  • Skills and Career Choice
  • Online Jobs
  • Internships
  • Job applications
  • Counseling and Mentoring
  • Continuous Professional Development and Vocational Education.

SEF will encourage students to set the following objectives for their professional and extracurricular ventures:

  • Help develop and fund platforms for networking activities with fellow students interested in generating their own entrepreneurial futures.
  • Explore developmental opportunities for starting their own new enterprises through advice, guidance, mentoring, counselling, funding and continual business support and monitoring.
  • Provide a hub for the free exchange of ideas, materials and learning resources linked to individual researches, practice and studies.
  • Attract key figures in industries and public circles with whom to foster stake holding relationships, mentoring support, informal work-related placements, and opportunities for experiential learning.
  • Help contribute to the creation of an entrepreneurial learning community within the University/College in the wider region, the country as a whole, and in conjunction with international students’ partnerships and global community.
  • Students are encouraged and engaged to travel in order to develop knowledge of multi and cross cultural business opportunities and practices.
  • Overseas travels are organized to promote exchanges, partnerships and participation in international forum for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Various events initiated by the SEF will bring together students, practitioners and policy-makers to cover issues such as problems encountered by new and aspiring entrepreneurs and comparisons with developed countries, funding enterprise and the role of the state in promoting entrepreneurship. Few amongst such are:

  1. Come together regularly to hear from key speakers, share ideas, reinforce and develop relationships, encourage and recognise successes, identify opportunities and challenges with entrepreneurial funding as its uttermost priority.
  2. Host annual enterprise awards to showcase the entrepreneurial ideas and talents among students and match them with financiers and partners. This event will include business plan competitions, think tank forum, and investments forum with ‘live’ investors to consider projects and ideas for likely investments.
  3. Develop links with industries to support enterprises especially in the areas of vocations, skills and talents. This rich resource can only be exploited through real time interaction in real time business challenges and atmosphere to reflect wealth creation opportunities in a developing economy.

SEF Resource Center (SRC)

The need to set up a resource Center to cater for the needs of Nigerians who are interested in idea developments, financing, project monitoring and access to research works on various disciplines is overdue and necessary. Currently, IPCentre, in partnerships with reputable Consultants and Business Schools within and abroad are developing templates for entrepreneurship that will be available in all our Enterprise and Resource Centers across the geo-political zones of the country, – one-stop shops where information, supports and cooperation can be obtained by students and potential entrepreneurs, and even corporate and government entities. All students and graduates will have free access to these facilities at all times.