Seven doctoral degree students and 132 others comprising 43 graduates and 89 undergraduates have befitted from this year’s Grooming Centre university scholarship awards.
The final year students, who are from across over 50 public and private universities and polytechnics in the country were given a total sum of N18.9 million, all together for their research works.
The money was given to them on Thursday, November 9, at the award ceremony held at the corporate headquarters of the organisation in Lagos.
While each of the postgraduate students received a sum of N200,000, their undergraduate counterparts received N100,000 each.
Speaking at the event, the Head of Project, Grooming Centre Nigeria, a microfinance institution, Mr Egulefu Chikezie, explained that the annual non-refundable grant is part of the social intervention initiatives of the bank on education to encourage and boost evidence-based research activities and knowledge among tertiary school students in critical economic areas that include social enterprise, microfinance, inclusive finance, rural development, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), women in development and other areas that aimed at lifting people out of poverty.
He said the bank, which has also given out scholarship grants to 2,700 senior secondary school students in the last seven years under Lady Kate Scholarship Scheme, believes that so many university students in the country would want to carry out research works on problems-solved issues that are impactful to the economy but have no money, hence the purpose of the research grants to support them.
Chikezie disclosed that the gesture is an annual event with the centre targeting an increasing number of beneficiaries and the value of the research grants but could not get enough suitable applicants to benefit each year.
Giving example, he said, the target was to reach out to a total of 150 students this year but only 139 out of about 340 applicants were successful.
“But the beauty of it is that what we started in 2019 with just 25 winners from only eight institutions has grown to 139 beneficiaries from 50 tertiary schools this year, and this is a great joy for us more so that we have some PhD students among them for the first time,” he declared.
Chikezie emphasised that the winning research projects with the grants being managed by the Centre for Research in Enterprise and Action in Management (CREM) are focused on issues relevant to the Nigerian context, practical, innovative and capable of promoting any of the critical economic areas of interest in the Nigerian space.
He said all the applications were evaluated by an independent panel of jurists, making the entire selection process open, fair and transparent.
He said what concerns the centre is for beneficiaries of the grants to create wealth with their projects and impact society and not about their schools, religion, or states of origin.
In his own address, the CEO\founder, Grooming Centre, Dr Godwin Nwabunka, said that Nigeria is a large market with many business opportunities, but only those with entrepreneurial and creative spirit could provide the products and services capable of satisfying the people’s needs to maximize profit and better the society.
Represented by Mr. Alex Enyinnah, the executive director of the centre, Mwabunka said the centre is interested in helping the youths who are innovative and thinkers to create wealth and attain financial freedom and even become employers of labour rather than job seekers upon graduation.
He said many youths are out there that need only a small push to come out of poverty and that is why Grooming Centre is ready to support such individual students through the research grants.
While promising that the centre would continue to render such support to deserving students, he urged all the beneficiaries to remain focused on their studies.
Delivering a keynote speech at the event, guest speaker and a professor of sociology at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Olabisi Yusuf said it was a good move that one of the key areas of interest of the scholarship program is to ensure women are economically empowered both in public and private sectors as men.
She said with gender diversity, Nigeria’s women must take their prime positions in every facet of life.
She commended both the Grooming Centre and the beneficiaries, saying the positive impacts of the grants would go beyond beneficiaries.
Sharing their experiences with Nigerian Tribune at the event, some of the beneficiaries revealed that the grants are a great relief to them and their parents.
One of them, Nkemjika Nwagu, a PhD student at the University of Ibadan, said she is excited she won the grant, adding that it would go a long way to lessen her financial burden.
According to her, her research project is on “Effects of knowledge management and innovation on sustainability of social enterprise.”
She said she is confident that the project would open opportunities for her in her chosen field.