US/Nigeria Council Promises to Address Market Challenges

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By Jonathan Eze

The United States Nigeria Council (USNC) has unfolded plans to attract influential entrepreneurs to combat market challenges being experienced in the country by developing technology and innovation ecosystem.

 It also expressed readiness to connect investors with potential investees to mobilise capital for Nigerian start-ups and companies in a bid to further develop the country’s industrial expansions.

Speaking at the round-table breakfast meeting of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York City, USA, the Executive Director of USNC, Eliot Pence, stated that the Council’s mission was to promote bilateral business partnership and growth in Nigeria, especially focusing on entrepreneurial investment in the technology and innovation ecosystem.

He explained that the Council’s breakfast meeting served as a forum for connecting investors with potential investees to mobilise capital for Nigerian start-ups and companies.

According to him, the event brought together a range of ecosystem players to discussed innovation and entrepreneurial partnerships in technology, including over 45 leading Nigerian and American business executives and high-level public officials.

Pence further commented that the Council wants to bring influential entrepreneurs to combat market challenges in the ICT sector, stating that “Capital is one barrier, market access is another. USNC bridges that gap.”

In his remark at the event, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Okey Enelamah, told the US investors about the crucial need to leverage technology to address local challenges as well as efforts by the Federal Government to strengthen the enabling environment for businesses to operate in Nigeria.

Enelamah commended the Council for its work, stating “Nigeria stands to benefit from your effort.”

He also spoke on the power of partnership and the exceptional stature of the “serial entrepreneur” members of USNC, adding “if you are looking for courage in business, it’s found in this room.”

The breakfast meeting was hosted by Chairman, USNC, Ambassador Terence McCulley, Co-Chair John Coumantaros of Flour Mills of Nigeria, and Pence.

The USNC members were represented by the participation of Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank PlC; Wale Tinubu of Oando; Kola Aina of Ventures Platform; Tunde Folawiyo of Yinka Folawiyo Group; Ambassador John Negroponte of McLarty Associates; Christina Sass of Andela; Femi Akinware of Exchange Telecommunications Ltd; and Mamadou Beye of Chevron.

Other notable attendees included Kayode Pitan, CEO of Bank of Industry of Nigeria; Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission; Nigerian NBA star, Festus Ezeli and executives from Renaissance Capital, Lateral Capital, Bechtel International Inc., Zephyr Management, and Lori Systems.