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Funding Your Passion: The Top 7 Business Grants for Ambitious Nigerian Students

As an ambitious Nigerian student, you likely have big dreams and ideas that you’re passionate about bringing to life one day. However, lack of funding can be a major roadblock to getting your business or social enterprise off the ground while still in school.

That’s why tapping into grants tailored specifically for enterprising students can provide that much-needed capital injection to turn your vision into reality during your studies and beyond.

This comprehensive guide spotlights the top 7 business grants for Nigerian university and polytechnic students, outlining details on eligibility, funding amounts, application tips, and more so you can kickstart your passion project.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme

Arguably Nigeria’s most prestigious entrepreneurship grant, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, is open to startup and idea stage applicants aged 18–35 years old.

What it offers:

  • Up to $5,000 in seed capital
  • Mentoring
  • Elumelu Network access
  • An all-expense-paid trip to Africa’s leading entrepreneurship conference

Eligibility criteria:

  • Nigerian student or graduate with a business idea or startup under 3 years old
  • completed online application form
  • 2-minute video pitch showcasing the idea

Since 2015, this highly competitive programme has funded over 15,000 young African entrepreneurs with training, mentorship, and funding to catalyse the growth of impactful businesses across the continent.

Innovate NG Business Grant

If you have an innovative business idea or solution that addresses socioeconomic issues, the Innovate NG Business Grant could be an excellent funding opportunity to explore while still at university.

What it offers

  • Up to a 5 million Naira grant
  • Six-month acceleration
  • Business mentorship/training

Eligibility criteria

  • Nigerian student or graduate not older than 35 years
  • Innovative business model or solution
  • completed online application

This Federal Government of Nigeria grant is focused on supporting youth-led startups tackling SDG-related problems through enterprise. Since 2018, 30 young founders have benefited.

SIWI/WfWP Pitching for Ocean Grants

For student entrepreneurs focused on ocean preservation and sustainability, the Stockholm International Water Institute and World Fund for Wildlife are partners for the Pitching for Oceans grant.

What it offers:

  • €10,000 grant
  • Six-month incubation support
  • Global network access

Eligibility criteria:

  • Nigerian student green business idea or startup
  • aligns with ocean sustainability
  • Video pitch submission

This unique impact investment opportunity is open to environmentally conscious student businesses with innovative solutions promoting healthy oceans, lakes, and rivers.

Shell Niger Delta Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme

If you already hold an undergraduate degree, the Shell Niger Delta Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme offers full funding for exceptional Nigerian student entrepreneurs from oil-producing regions studying internationally.

What it offers:

  • Full tuition, accommodation, and stipend coverage
  • Option of 1-3 year masters/PhD level study
  • Must study abroad

Eligibility criteria

  • under 30 years old
  • from the Niger Delta region
  • Minimum 2:1 BSc grade
  • accepted into the desired course of study

Advancing students from less privileged Niger Delta areas, this Shell initiative aims to help scholars gain expertise to become agents of sustainable development and progress.

Ford Foundation International Fellowships Programme

For Nigerian graduates admitted into social impact-focused postgraduate programmes abroad, the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Programme offers full scholarship funding.

What it offers:

  • Full tuition and living stipend coverage
  • Three years of maximum funding
  • must study social justice and human rights discipline

Eligibility criteria

  • Nigerian graduates under 30 years old
  • Admitted into an eligible master’s or PhD programme abroad
  • committed to social change in Nigeria

As one of the most generous scholarships globally, 160 Nigerian changemakers have benefited since 2000 from Ford Foundation funding.

Future Africa Fellowship

The Future Africa Fellowship, powered by the Anzisha Prize, offers under-20 entrepreneurs funding, mentorship, and global networking.

What it offers:

  • $5000 equity-free funding
  • Three years of multi-disciplinary support
  • Exposure to investor networks

Eligibility criteria

  • Nigerian student founder under 22 years
  • Scalable business model
  • High-potential ventures offering new solutions

As Africa’s premier award and fellowship for the youngest entrepreneurs, Anzisha has helped over 30 Nigerians turn bold business ideas into promising startups.

AU/AIMS-NEI Industrial Mathematics Innovative Student Grants

Students innovating at the intersection of industrial math, computer science, and business could qualify for the AU/AIMS-NEI Industrial Mathematics Innovative Student Grants.

What it offers:

  • $10,000 in CAD grants
  • Supercomputing access
  • Prototype creation support

Eligibility criteria

  • Nigerian university student teams: 3-5
  • Early-stage concept applying industrial mathematics
  • Selected innovations exhibit commercial viability.

Advancing startups leveraging Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, this pan-African grant initiative has already supported over 15 Nigerian student projects.


Application Tips and Tricks

With numerous Nigerian student grants available, following some best practices can help your startup stand out and secure funding to turn bold ideas into reality during your studies and beyond.

Research Broadly

Firstly, extensively research all available grants and track application windows to find the best funding fit for your venture’s vision and impact objectives.

Perfect your pitch.

Whether required through written essays or video, mastering your startup’s pitch is pivotal to persuading funders that your model and team present a worthwhile investment.

Demonstrate Traction

Evidence of initial customer traction, revenue streams, or target community impact will build investor confidence and highlight real-world viability.

Leverage campus resources.

Utilise the free campus entrepreneurship hub advisory, mentor office hours, and seminars to refine your strategy and competitive positioning.

Highlight Additionality

Articulate how grant capital and programme offerings are vital to significantly accelerating your startup’s operations and social benefits.

By following these tips and thoroughly profiling the most relevant funding opportunities for your passion project, Nigerian student founders can secure catalytic capital injections to turn bold business ideas into real-world impact.



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