By Benneth Oghifo
Nigeria’s growing number of startup tech entrepreneurs peaked this year, attracting funds from local and foreign investors, the Founder of Tech Circle, Oo Nwoye has said.
Nwoye stated this at a hangout he convened for tech entrepreneurs in Lagos to celebrate what he described as the commendable growth in the number of tech entrepreneurs in the country.
Nwoye and other stakeholders also stated that Nigeria’s startup culture and support network is helping a lot of youths to establish businesses that would give a further boost to Nigeria’s economy.
The hangout, which brought together organisations, individuals that support entrepreneurship and small businesses, was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the nation’s entrepreneurship eco system.
Nigeria’s entrepreneurial space has massive potential, and start-ups are recording their biggest successes, said Nwoye and that “the year has been quite phenomenal and supportive for tech entrepreneurs.”
He said “So much money came in this year for young tech companies, as valuations skyrocketed for some startups,” and that during the year, young startups attracted outside talent and investors. “Great entrepreneurs were about to raise more than $300,000 this year from foreign investors,” and “Paystack is a great example of success.”
According to him, “Nigeria’s technology entrepreneurs are striving to turn fresh ideas into commercially-viable businesses. While many start-ups still target consumers or businesses, others are working at the frontier between the private and public sectors, often seeking to do well by doing good.”
There are efforts to help promising companies with the attention and financial backing they need, he said and that international investors in Nigeria tech companies recognised that these are great entrepreneurs building great businesses.
He said tech collaborations are happening everywhere in Nigeria with government support, tech expertise and strong business networks, adding that in Lagos, which he said had created an investor-friendly ecosystem that presents the gateway to global success.
He said Lagos has witnessed the birth of new software startups and that buildings now house co-working spaces and incubators, adding that Lagos gets the edge when business bases are chosen, “in particular due to its good quality of life and the business opportunities that it offers.”
He said there are a lot of programmes that focused on translating innovations in technology into market-based entrepreneurial opportunities, and that the high concentration of tech startups and talent in Lagos had placed it as foremost destination for venture capital funding. He said global tech investors were drawn to Lagos for its strengths in developing the latest cutting-edge technologies, with funding going into fast-growing sectors such as agric tech and Fintech.
Nigerian payment startups, based in Lagos are facilitating online transactions in key African economies and getting validation with global payment giants, he said.
Nwoye said, “Other states in the country have taken a broader focus on developing the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem, which consists of a wide variety of stakeholders, activities and organisations that support the creation and growth of small business.”
A member of the Presidential Technology and Creativity Advisory Council, Mr. Kola Aina said Nigeria was gradually becoming a major tech hub in terms of start-ups generation and entrepreneurs’ preferred location for launching new projects.
Aina has lead investment in about 28 companies including payments company, Paystack; connectivity company, Tizeti; healthcare company; MDaaS and agric-tech company, Thrive Agric. According to him, entrepreneurial venture creation is an extremely powerful economic development engine.
He said promoting technology based entrepreneurship holds potential, and needs to be encouraged to ensure that Nigeria remains at the forefront of global tech-business leadership.
The Programme Manager, Developer Ecosystem, Google, Aniedi Udo-Obong said investments in Nigerian companies have grown steadily over the past one year, pointing to a relative improvement of the investment ecosystem and a huge amount of money available to invest in startups. He said Nigerian start-ups are not only well received in their respective states but also abroad is shown by the international funds that are investing in Nigerian startups.
Nigerian tech industry has already established a foothold in the world of e-commerce, for example, with the successes recorded in fintech, he said and that a lot of young Nigerians were joining global and local companies, starting their own ventures, building the next generation of tech leaders.
He said there were a number of coding boot camps dotting the country to provide a steady flow of fresh talent, and that Google was now promoting events to bring local developers together to solve real social problems.
Udo-Obong said Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State was becoming one of the strongest entrepreneurial cities through a renewed spirit of collaboration, community and leadership.
According to the Convener, Startup South, Uche Aniche, they have brought up hundreds of entrepreneurs, leaders and visionaries, which has resulted in new ideas, digital connectivity, tech advancements and innovative entrepreneurs. He said, “Startup South started in 2015 as an annual startup conference for startup founders, investors and the general public in the south-south and south-east of Nigeria. Over 5000 participants have been reached and engaged since inception.”
He said a number of the world’s leading technology companies have demonstrated their long-term commitment to investing in Nigeria. “With unbeatable blend of talent, creativity and access to finance, the nation’s eco system will continue to go from strength to strength and to generate jobs, investment and world-leading technology for years to come.
“High-tech talent is a key driver of the wealth and competitiveness. I am happy that a lot of startups founders are emerging from places outside Lagos.”