Ventures Platform Foundation (VPF), the social impact arm of Ventures Platform Hub, has launched a call for applications for its latest incubation programme, Gov Labs – a 12-week programme for tech solutions implementing accountability and transparency within the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 response. Created with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the new initiative will support Civil Society Organisations from across Nigeria as they build innovative solutions promoting good governance and wide scale access to public services.
From the pool of applicants, five organisations will be selected and will each receive a $2,500 grant as well as access to mentorship, technical support and networking opportunities. During the 12-week period, participants will also work alongside key experts in policy advocacy, citizen engagement and public sector reform as they build scalable and easily adoptable solutions which target the pain points of the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 response.
Speaking on the launch of Gov Labs, the Executive Director at Ventures Platform Foundation, Mimshach Obioha, said: “Since the pandemic began, there has been a major emphasis on the health and economic implications of COVID-19 however, we cannot deny that democracy and governance have also taken a huge hit during this period. With governments imposing restrictions on civil liberties, we need stronger support for basic human rights and something needs to change urgently.”
“In light of this, the Nigerian government has proven itself somewhat open to citizen input and that’s where Gov Labs comes in. We’ve always known Nigeria has a rich supply of entrepreneurs who are hungry for change but now, we’re giving them a platform to not only equip the government to make more informed decisions, but also drive access to vital public services at a time when people need them most,” Obioha said.
According to Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), there were over 100 incidents of human rights violations within the initial lockdown period alone. To curb the impact of the coronavirus, Nigeria has imposed stringent and severe measures on its citizens, most notably around the freedom of movement and assembly. However, this has often corresponded with a notable rise in unlawful arrests and detentions, extra-judicial killings and sexual & gender based violence (SGBV) amongst other issues.
This year, Ventures Platform Foundation has driven a number of initiatives to address pre-existing crises in Nigeria as well as the devastation caused by the pandemic. In October, the company awarded $6,000 to seven different start-ups developing tech solutions to assist the fight against the coronavirus as part of its COVID-19 Innovation Challenge and also recently launched its Start Up North East incubator to aid relief efforts for the crisis in Northern Nigeria