Starting a Business
Do you have a business idea you want to establish or an already established business which you are confident can bring about growth to the economy and help change narratives?
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Ezeh James
18th March, 2022
5 mins read
Opinions expressed by IABC contributors are their own.

Before we delve in properly, we would like to have an overview of what a grant is. Oftentimes, people misplace grants for loans. In this article, we have come to demystify some complicated terms.

Grants are money or funds given to entities, companies, businesses, individuals, etc. by public bodies or specialized grant-making institutions to support the activities, courses, or projects of the organization or individual for further progression which will in turn help bring about public benefits. It is very important to note that grants are non-refundable fees.

In the course of this article, we would be seeing the grants available to SMEs in Nigeria that help bring to the limelight, the ideas and businesses that either needs capital to start or to progress.

One might still ask, what is the difference between grants and loans, and why should he or she even go for a grant than a loan? Well, this question amidst others we have answered in this post. If you’re in this category, we advised you to stay glued to the last sentence as it will be of massive help to you.

Differences Between Grants And Loans

  1. Refund: A grant awarded to a business is like a gift that requires no refunding of any kind, but in a loan, the borrower is expected to pay back the money with an agreed interest rate.
  2. Collateral: A collateral is needed to be able to secure a loan, while in Grant, all you need is a viable business idea or an already established business that needs funds to progress further.
  3. Risk: There is a high rate of risk when one opts in for a loan as the tendency of things always going as planned cannot be assured, thereby making the person both restless and uncomfortable, while in grants, the money has been given to you to maximize it without any refunds in view.
  4. Availability: loans are always available to be given by banks, financial institutions, etc., while grants might just come twice a year. In the same vein, loans are everywhere as almost all the banks offer them while institutions that offer grants are limited.

Criteria For Grant Application

  • Adequate Preparation: Grants, being non-refundable money does not mean one will not draft out the plans on what to do with the money. One has to state why the money is needed, or how the money will be spent. If it is a business idea, one has to check the viability.
  • Eligibility: Some grants have specific requirements for applying. Some of these requirements are; having been in business for a particular number of years, being registered with the corporate affairs Corporation (CAC), etc. Ensure you go through the requirements before applying to avoid dissipating energy in what you are not qualified for.

Grants For SMEs In Nigeria

  • African Young Entrepreneur Empowerment Nigeria (AYEEN)
  • Shell Livewire
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme
  • GroFin fund
  • YouWin Connect Nigeria
  • Innovation Price For Africa


  1. African Young Entrepreneur Empowerment Nigeria (AYEEN)

This is an annual grant awarded to young entrepreneurs with mind-blowing and viable business ideas to flame the idea into a business that will bring about public benefits and help change narratives.

The African Young Entrepreneur Empowerment Nigeria also offers mentorship programs that equip individuals with skills and practical knowledge needed for business scales and growth. Upon completion of such a program, one may be awarded a grant to bring his or her idea to reality.

To apply, log in to the website

  1. Shell Livewire

Shell Livewire is a grant scheme initiated to help Niger Delta youths within the ages of 18 to 30 years to kick up their businesses. It was on the 27th of March, 2003, and since then, has supported about 3000+ businesses and 6000+ youths being trained by the program.

To apply, log in to the website

  1. Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme

This is also one of the grants for SMEs in Nigeria that help to actualize smart and viable business ideas. It was introduced in 2015 by Tony Elumelu, the chief executive officer of Heirs Holding, and since its launch, about 7500+ businesses have benefited from the grant scheme.

To apply, log in to the website

  1. GroFin Fund

GroFin fund is also one of the grants for SMEs in Nigeria. It was established to help bring business ideas to the limelight and bring about public benefits that accelerate the progress of the community.

GroFin fund has helped about 700+ businesses to start up or to scale up their activities and services.

To apply, log in to the website

  1. YouWin Connect Nigeria

This is also one of the grants for SMEs in Nigeria established to help beautiful and viable business ideas by organizing competition programs which upon completion, grants are awarded to qualified individuals or companies.

To apply, log in to the website

  1. Innovation Price For Africa

Innovation price for Africa is one of the leading grant platforms for individuals with business ideas across Africa. The requirements for applying for the grant include being an African, residing fully in an African country, and possessing an analytic mind.

To apply, log in to the website


At this juncture, we are confident that we have guided you through all that pertains to grants for SMEs in Nigeria, and further provided the list of some of these grants with their application links.

We wish you luck as you apply!

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