Question: I registered for Ishiba Grant last year. Since then nothing has happened. Can someone give me latest update from Ishiba?
Answer: You know this is a grant that will touch and help many of us in Nigeria. So, they (Ishiba) are working with all necessary organisations to make it come true.
Question: What about those of us that filled forms from two NGOs? We didn’t know they are from the same organisation. Moreover, we don’t know the one that would be true.
Answer: Ishiba cannot answer that question. Because, on a daily basis, apart from grants, Ishiba is looking for the best ways to assist as many people as possible. Ishiba is helping on health, employment, etc. Ishiba is busy thinking of how to help the less privileged. Rest assured that the grant will come.
Question: I registered earlier this year. I am through with my verification. We were supposed to attend our training last week Saturday in Nsukka, Enugu State. But the training did not hold. What is our fate?
Answer: A patient dog will surely eat the fattest bone. Stay calm. Your future is bright.
Question: When, exactly, is disbursement of the grant likely to commence? My hope is fading.
Answer: Let me use a word for you in the Bible. ‘‘I show a waiting attitude.’’ Micah 7:7. So, be more patient.
What’s going on here, a socratic dialogue? Not exactly. The questions are from Nigerians who have signed up for membership of Ishiba Development and Empowerment Centre, which claims to have grants of up to N10 million for Nigerians who want to start small and medium enterprises.
The accompanying answers, possibly apocryphal, are from a faceless pair of Ademuyiwa Olutayo and Olatunde Damilare, who seem to be speaking for, and on behalf of, Ishiba. To rate the answers as vague and evasive will be charitable and generous. Be that as it may, what is Ishiba Empowerment Programme about?
Ishiba Development and Empowerment Centre presents itself as a multi-purpose co-operative society founded by Dr. Evangelist Elizabeth N. Praise and registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission on August 25, 2016. Ishiba promises to combat poverty, hunger and social injustice.
Ishiba says it operates in the 36 states of the Federation, through state co-ordinators, with similar representation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It says it teaches people the way of God, organises agriculture-related seminars and workshops, and skills acquisition programmes. Ishiba also claims to be ready and able to disburse grants to its members who want to start, run and grow their businesses.
Ishiba says it will establish between 10 to 25 microfinance banks across Nigeria, including Abuja. It says each of these microfinance banks will get One billion Naira to empower millions of Ishiba members.
Ishiba says its funding is a grant, not a loan, meaning that grantees will not re-pay monies disbursed to them. Ishiba says its members who have applied for grants for projects costing between hundreds of thousands to 10 million Naira will receive their monies when it (Ishiba) receives the international grant it is waiting for.
While the waiting for the international grant continues, more questions arise. What is the Ishiba business model? Where does Ishiba get its money from, and how does it sustain its grant programme? Ishiba, which says it has converted its co-operative society to a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is signing up more Nigerians for its yet-to-be fulfilled grant programme.
The Ishiba call-up says: ‘‘Don’t be left out. Grab a Form. Fill it. Choose your desired business project and you will get the funding.’’
To become an Ishiba member, and qualify for Ishiba Grant, you have to register with it. Membership Form is N500. Certificate costs N1,000. Charge for general logistics: N500. Total cost to register for Ishiba Grant is N2,000.
What are the benefits of membership? Registration, and attendance of a seminar organised by Ishiba Development and Empowerment Centre, confers full membership, and automatic qualification to access Ishiba Grant.
A member is also qualified to attend seminars and workshops organised by Ishiba, which may be in Agriculture, Health Care, Skills acquisition or Mentorship in a trade; and to receive a certificate (costing N1,000) after each seminar or workshop.
Furthermore, a member may apply, or recommend communities, for projects, which can be sponsored by Ishiba or through its sponsors.
The Founder of Ishiba Development and Empowerment Centre, Dr. Evangelist Elizabeth N. Praise, (who adherents reverently call ‘‘the Queen Elizabeth of Nigeria’’ who has come to deliver Nigerian masses from poverty), is reportedly working tirelessly to make the Ishiba dream come true.
Ishiba strives to distance itself from the dubious MMM or similar ponzi schemes that promise stupendous returns, then turn out to be dupes. But, judging by the way Ishiba is working, Nigerians are wondering if this is not a scheme for parting them with their hard-earned N2000! In fact, the Nasrul-Lahi-l-Faith Society (NASFAT), warns its members to shun Ishiba Grant because it has ‘‘elements of doubt.”
NASFAT, in doubting Ishiba, says: ‘‘The name of the group is different from the name of the bank account being circulated for members to pay money into. The group does not have any traceable office or contact details. It is not registered as a microfinance bank or financial institution in Nigeria. In addition, no evidence of United Nations grants of any form similar to Ishiba.”
NASFAT cautions: ‘‘We strongly advise that our youth members should refrain from the group and be more vigilant as to carefully choose where to invest their money. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
Given these red flags, Nigerians must, again, ask Ishiba: Is Ishiba real? Where is the grant? Has any member received Ishiba Grant? If anyone has received it, Nigerians will want to hear from him or her. That will be a story to be told. For now, with the growing doubts, Nigerians, particularly those considering registering with, and applying for, Ishiba Grant, are advised to heed the age-old advice: Buyer beware!