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The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and Ashish J. Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, have jointly announced their partnership to launch Mara Mentor for the purpose of offering support to young entrepreneurs across Nigeria. The President was represented by his Special Adviser on Youth Empowerment, Ambassador Obinna Adim. As part of Nigeria’s Integrated Youth Economic Empowerment Program (IYEEP), Mara-IYEEP Nigeria is the first of its kind and will be a formidable base to empower youth throughout the country and ultimately provide a solution for youth leadership and development. Mara Mentor is an online and mobile platform targeting young people who want to start a business. The program is completely free of charge and available to all entrepreneurs regardless of their position within the business life cycle, from those only starting out with one brilliant idea to more established business owners. The platform allows these entrepreneurs to connect virtually with seasoned business leaders locally and mentors from across the world for advice and guidance. The mentorship program will serve as a provider of non-formal education aimed at bridging the gap between school and life after school, enhancing young people’s potential for success by making them approach life as entrepreneurs. Aside from mentoring the youth on the path to entrepreneurial empowerment, the program further aims to provide comprehensive support services for the youth through funding assistance for novel business ideas, incubation centres and workspace, as well as continual business training. Furthermore, the program exudes special consideration and focus on the empowerment of female youth in our society. These support services are expected to transform entrepreneurs’ business ideas into profitable and thriving business entities that will employ other Nigerians and contribute to local, state and national economies. “We are very excited about the project to bring Mara Mentor to Nigeria. Mara-IYEEP Nigeria will encourage young entrepreneurs to embrace innovative ideas, envision the impossible, and ultimately transform Nigeria. We believe mentorship is the key in addressing the gaps currently preventing these entrepreneurs from successfully starting, scaling and sustaining businesses,” says Ashish J. Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation. “The Integrated Youth Economic Empowerment Program (IYEEP) is the Youth Transformation Initiative of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The Mara mentorship platform will be an important part of the overall IYEEP initiative to economically empower the Nigerian youth through the Mentorship Program and Launch Pads, which provide incubation centers for SMEs and Solopreneurs who otherwise would not be able to afford professional office space. The Platform also matches young entrepreneurs with seasoned business owners and cooperate leaders one on one. Our vision is to provide the needed platform and mechanism to transform our youth into (IYEEP) CHANGE MAKERS who can make their communities a better place, not only for themselves but also for their fellow Nigerians by spurring wealth creation and raising household incomes across the country,” according to the Special Adviser to the President on Youth Empowerment, Ambassador Obinna Adim. The mentor ship platform is currently accessible online, but will shortly be launched as a mobile application for smartphones with the objective to create a truly active and connected entrepreneurial community for youth across Nigeria.

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This article was first published on 13th August 2013

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