EnterpreneurCountry plans to fill funding gap in tech startup scene
by Ben Uzor Jr
July 17, 2014 | 12:00 am| | | Start Conversation
EnterpreneurCountry, an entrepreneurial ecosystem with a 133,000 strong community from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, is expanding into Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, by GDP, with strategic plans to fill the funding vacuum in the technology start-up scene.
The funding gap in the country remains a fundamental drawback to the growth and development of technology start-up, according to market observers.
The institution has also opened talks with PenCom to find suitable ways by which Nigeria’s pensions industry can leverage digital innovation to enhance its growth and global competitiveness.
Speaking with BusinessDay in an interview on Wednesday, Amit Pau, director, EnterpreneurCountry, said the organisation’s foray into Nigeria is in consonance with its unwavering position that the next wave of digital game-changers and economic boom will emanate from frontier markets such as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. In spite of the country’s mammoth socio-economic challenges, he says Nigeria remains very attractive to global investors due to the country’s “large and young demographic, huge mobile penetration and usage, strong economic growth indices and the lack of legacy issues that more mature markets face when trying to innovate.”
Seventy percent of Nigeria’s population (167 million) is under the age of 30, and all are digital natives. Nigeria is the fastest growing mobile market in the world, with more than 100 million active mobile subscribers.
According to him, the strength of infrastructure deployment is also enabling a platform for digital revolution, specifically in the area of mobile financial services, e-commerce, digital content services for the business market.
The EnterpreneurCountry’s director pointed out that Nigeria’s success in building digitally-enabled services lays the foundation for easily scalable advanced services such as e-commerce, marketplace and social media.
“This is well reflected by the rise of e-commerce places such as Jumia, Konga, DealDey, Gidimall, Jobberman, Paga, iROKO, Kaymu, to name a few.” In view of this, the organisation has lined up series of initiatives strategically geared towards addressing the funding vacuum in the country’s emerging technology start-up scene.
“We are planning a high-level dinner to which we will invite leading financiers, entrepreneur-friendly banks and other corporates as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) founders, to thrash out all the issues surrounding SME funding and come up with some salient, actionable solutions.”
EnterpreneurCountry’s expansion into another high-growth market like Nigeria, according to him, marks the creation of a platform for investors and digital enablers to interact on all things digital occurring within Nigeria’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Asked if EnterpreneurCountry has set aside funds to assist in the development of Nigerian technology entrepreneurs, Pau said, “We have our own fund but it is not Nigeria specific. However, we have a strong community on investors, private equity funds, corporates with their startup investment funds, family offices and high net worth individuals who are constantly looking to invest.
“Speaking in the same vein, Nkiru Asika, EC regional partner for Nigeria, applauded the Ministry of Communications Technology in its efforts to build technology entrepreneurs, further adding that the institution intends to work closely with the ministry to meet its strategic objectives.
“In fact, Victor Okigbo, centre manager of the Lagos IDEA HUB, an initiative of the Ministry of ICT, was present at our launch and is keen to discuss further how we can work together. “EntrepreneurCountry is not endorsed by any government agency per se, but we believe that our mission of entrepreneurs championing entrepreneurs and our intent to showcase Nigerian digital entrepreneurs to a global audience is one that will resonate with any of the agencies of government interested in entrepreneurship, investment inflow, job creation,” she stated.
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