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UK-Nigeria Tech: Five female-owned startups selected for 2020 Founders’ programme

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UK-Nigeria
The 2019-launched UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, a part of the International Tech Hub Network, on 11 December 2019, hosted a ‘pitch and judge’ event for female-owned digital businesses, and five of these businesses were picked to attend the Africa-UK: Female Tech Founders 2020 programme.
UK-Nigeria Partnership

The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub is armed with a primary objective of stimulating local digital economy, supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth and jobs, using digital skills and enterprise.

According to the British Deputy High Commissioner, Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, during the Keynote Speech, it was born out of the British Government’s recognition of the potential of Nigeria’s tech space.

She also shared that events such as this reveal where Nigeria is headed in the entrepreneur and tech space of the country and the Hub aims to ensure that Nigeria is at the front and centre of the mentorship and support which will be gotten at the Female Tech Founders 2020 Programme which will hold in January 2020.

Harriet’s speech also revealed that there is little doubt that the tech sector in Nigeria is booming.

This fact was seen considering that, in 2018, while the oil and gas sector contributed about 9% of the country’s GDP, the ICT sector of the country was responsible for up to 11%, raking in about $300 million.

The Hub, therefore, creates an opportunity for the UK to partner with Nigeria in the tech sector, as it looks for a way to support a new generation of that challenges the old way of doing business and links them with training and mentoring opportunities.

The Hub also encourages collaboration and partnerships that will deliver for Nigeria and the UK.

Pitching and Judging

The event saw an interesting mix of ten female-owned, digital businesses with promising futures and four industry experts as judges.

The judges were:

  • The CEO of the online consumer finance platform, OneFi and Carbon, Chijioke Dozie.
  • The Seasoned Serial Entrepreneur and CEO, FutureSoft, Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho
  • The Partner of the pre-seed investment firm, Microtraction, Chidinma Iwueke
  • The Country Director, UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, Honey Ogundeyi

The ten business pitched were:

  • AGORITE, the premier digital agricultural platform working to tackle food insecurity by creating share value for smallholder farmers and investors/businesses.
  • EASYSHOP EASYCOOK, the online fresh grocery delivery company that uses technology to provide domestic support services to the working professionals since 2005.
  • LIMESTART, which includes unbanked small businesses in Africa’s sector by digitizing their sales records and helping them with digital payments.
  • MOBIHEALTH, Africa’s Uber of medicine which is changing the way people in Africa access quality healthcare using tech.
  • MUMSPRING, the HealthTech startup that is leveraging technology to transform maternal and neonatal health in Africa, starting with Nigeria.
UK-Nigeria

Some female founders at the event

  • 9IJAKIDS, the EdTech company has developed a mobile app to help children improve academic performance.
  • ROVINGHEIGHTS, a social-minded book sales and distribution company with the focus of making books the new cool.
  • SCHOLARX, an EdFinTech company which operates at the intersection of education and finance by creating equitable access to quality education.
  • SHECLUDED, the credit inclusion company that provides women with access to credit, financial advisory, mentoring and community.
  • SHUTTLERS MOBILITY, which enables professionals and organisations to share rides in corporate buses to and from work.
Famous Five

The Africa-UK: Female Tech Founders 2020 Programme will bring 15 of Africa’s most ambitious development-focused women entrepreneurs to the UK in January. The 15 businesses will come from five countries in the continent, some of which South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

The five businesses chosen by the judges after the pitch would be the businesses to attend the programme.

The five businesses chosen from the pitched ten were:

  • Scholarx
  • Shecluded
  • Shuttlers Mobility
  • Mobihealth
  • Limestart
Gender Inclusion

The need for inclusion in the tech space is not hidden. However, the steps needed to achieve this feat differs, and these ten businesses attempt to play their part in different ways and measures.

Talking to Ifeoma Uddoh of Shecluded, one of the five winners, she shared that running a business focused on making loans available for working women and women in business, they continuously find ways to reach more women.

UK-Nigeria

British Deputy High Commissioner, Nigeria, Harriet Thompson speaking at the event

She also revealed that most of the loans disbursed are above N1 million, and so to reach more women, they are venturing into making small loans available so as to empower more women and also reach and relate with them as not just people who provide loans but also as financial partners.

Such a move will help in financial and gender inclusion and, considering that 45% of the labour force in Nigeria are women, it will no doubt boost the economy of the nation.

The five winners will leave for London, where the Female Founders Tech Programme will hold, come January 2020.

[COVER PHOTO CAPTION]:

L-r: Seasoned Serial Entrepreneur and CEO of FutureSoft Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho; CEO of the online consumer finance platform, OneFi and Carbon; British Deputy High Commissioner, Nigeria, Harriet Thompson; Chijioke Dozie; Partner of the pre-seed investment firm, Microtraction, Chidinma Iwueke and Country Director, UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, Honey Ogundeyi.

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Konga’s monthly loss reduced from N400m to N100m in 2 years – CEO

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Konga
Konga (offline) retail store

Konga.com’s books indicated a N400m monthly loss, but with new systems, structure and energy put in place, the numbers have gradually been reducing, the CEO, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, has disclosed.

Prince Nnamdi who spoke while appearing on Kaleidoscope, an interview programme aired on Channels TV, he said that eCommerce is an expensive project but we are best positioned to deliver as a very innovative technology company,’’ he disclosed.

He also disclosed that Konga has invested well over $120m since it was acquired two years ago in Nigeria alone and now strategically structured to take on other African countries.

In his words; ‘‘Though we started with a monthly loss of N400m, but with new systems, structure and energy put in place, we have gradually been reducing losses and now about N100m loss per month. E-Commerce is an expensive project but we are best positioned to deliver as a very innovative technology company,’’ he disclosed.

Equally important, Prince Ekeh made the disclosure on Kaleidoscope, an interview programme aired on Channels TV on Sunday, August 2nd, 2020.

The young business leader, who described Konga as a technology company revealed that Konga employs directly and indirectly over 150,000 Nigerians. Most of them are merchants, logistics and other service providers.

‘‘We partner to create a trusted and sustainable digitally-driven ecosystem and working hard to scale this to about 250,000 before the end of 2020.

‘‘We see ourselves as more than just an e-Commerce company. Konga is a technology company and as a technology company, we are positioned to leverage that status in deploying new solutions and innovations. Indeed, no one should be surprised if tomorrow, Konga starts launching space ships into orbit. Although we have received several offers from interested investors, we are content with the group that is currently funding Konga. The group is highly ethical and want us to maintain the highest level of integrity. Our investors have assured us of enough capital to survive the next five years at least. This was why we did not accommodate a valuation of $300m from a consortium of global investors last year. 

‘‘However, we are also keen to expand into other African markets after taking charge of the Nigerian market. The e-Commerce market in African is still a largely untapped one. Therefore, any company that makes the right in-roads will reap huge benefits from it,’’ he said.

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LSETF relaunches Idea Hub for tech startups

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Idea Hub
Executive Secretary/CEO, LSETF, Mrs. Teju Abisoye

In line with its mandate to provide entrepreneurship solutions, training, and upskilling opportunities to innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Lagos tech ecosystem, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) has re-designed the Idea Hub Programme, under its Lagos Innovates Programme

 

The Lagos Innovates Idea Hub Programme is a 12-week incubation programme designed to support tech-enabled businesses with relevant skills, networking opportunities and mentorship from seasoned industry experts; geared towards building a competitive and sustainable brand.

 

It is expected that the programme would afford budding entrepreneurs with tech solution with the necessary leverage to grow their ideas.

 

The benefits include business incubation and coaching by Lagos Innovates experienced and seasoned Mentors; an opportunity to pitch for Lagos Innovates Workspace Vouchers for 6 or 12 months (valued between ₦120,000 – ₦1,800,000); and access to Lagos Innovates network including Government, corporates, start-ups, local and international investors, etc.

 

In her remarks on the initiative, the Executive Secretary/CEO, LSETF, Mrs. Teju Abisoye said; “The Lagos Innovates Idea Hub is a programme under one of our delivery mechanism tagged Tech Start-ups (Lagos Innovates), primarily responsible for cementing Lagos’ position as the leading destination for tech and innovation in Africa. With the recent global economic challenges due to the pandemic, we believe technology will be critical in proffering recovery and adaptive solutions as the world embraces the new normal.

 

“I am confident that with the Idea Hub initiative providing the institutional support, our young innovators in Lagos would be able to pivot toward this paradigm. We encourage growing entrepreneurs in the digital and tech space to take advantage of this programme to create compelling solutions that would accelerate the Lagos economic, business and lifestyle recovery trajectory”, she added.

 

Some of the seasoned mentors and industry experts of the programme are Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Founder,~We-Cyclers, and DG, Lagos State Records and Archives; Olu Akanmu, Executive Director Retail Banking, FCMB; Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, CEO, Future Software Resources Ltd; Ponmile Osibo, Partner, Platform Capital; Wale Ajiboye, Associate Director, Acumen; Oluwatoyin Oshinowo, Co-founder and VP Product, Field Insights; Dr Olanrewaju Phillips, Enterprise Account Manager, HP, Central Africa, and Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-Founder and COO, Piggyvest.

 

Other mentors are Olutosin Oni, Principal, Echo VC; Damilola Thompson, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Echo VC; Oluwatoyin Emmanuel-Olubake, Associate Director of Portfolio, Acumen; Dayo Kolewole, Partner Microtraction, and Simeon Ononobi, Co-founder/CEO, Thank U Cash.

 

Interested applicants must run an early-stage start-up with viable and solution-driven ideas; technology must be the core or the enabler of the enterprise, and the founder must reside in Lagos State.

How to APPLY

Applicants should visit Here to apply before the deadline date, Sunday 16th August 2020.

 

What you should know Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)

 

Established in 2016, LSETF‘s vision is to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to reduce unemployment in Lagos State.

LSETF focuses on promoting entrepreneurship by improving access to finance, strengthening the institutional capacity of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), formulating policies and actively intervening to improve the business environment. The Fund also trains and places unemployed Lagos residents in jobs, while driving innovation within the Lagos ecosystem. 

 

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Top 50 finalists announced for Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize 2020 competition

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Jack Ma Foundation
Source: Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH)

  • The 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications all over Africa, representing twenty-one African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT

Top 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African nations; The finalists represent 21 African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT; Finalists will advance to the next round of selection and will participate in an exclusive virtual boot camp on July 28.

The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition, a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), has shortlisted the top 50 finalists from stage one of the selection process.

The fifty entrepreneurs will continue their journey in the competition, for a chance to become one of the ten entrepreneurs that will compete in the grand finale later this year.

The top 50 finalists were selected from a pool of over 22,000 applications received from all 54 African nations.

The diversity of the finalist roster reflects the aim of Africa’s Business Heroes to be inclusive and grassroots, providing entrepreneurs from all over Africa with a platform to showcase their talent and business ideas, regardless of nationality, industry, age or gender.

The 2020 top fifty finalists come from twenty-one countries (Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and eighteen sectors, such as: agriculture, AI, Big Data, business services, construction, education, engineering, e-commerce, fashion, financial services, healthcare, ICT, logistics, manufacturing, management services, retail, renewable energy, and transportation.

The average age of the cohort is 37 with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64. 50% of the candidates are female – a 24% increase from the debut competition last year, and 32% are francophone, reflecting this year’s competition opening applications in French for the first time.

Over the past month, a panel of 140 highly skilled and experienced judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities. Judges, whose unrivalled knowledge and industry expertise has brought immense added value to the selection process, represented a variety of key sectors in Africa, such as agriculture, tech, retail and e-commerce, education, healthcare, finance, logistics, and tourism.

Before stepping into the second round of selection, which will determine the top 20 finalists, the fifty selected entrepreneurs will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa’s Business Heroes team on July 28th.

The boot camp represents a further opportunity for aspiring candidates to access unparalleled knowledge and insights from across the ABH network.

It also aims to build up finalists’ management and leadership capabilities and ultimately increase not only their chance of progressing to the next stages of the competition but to further develop as entrepreneurs.

During the boot camp, they will have the chance to receive feedback from round 1 judges such as Rafeh Saleh, Director of the Founder Institute and Omolara Awoyemi, Senior Program Manager at Facebook. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops with industry and business leaders, who have been partnering with ABH this year, including Abdelhameed Sharara, Founder & CEO of RiseUp; Patrick Awuah, Founder & President of Ashesi University, and Sebastien Nony, General Partner of Janngo Capital. It will also feature a few of the 2019 finalists who will provide advice and insights on their own journeys.

The selection process to spotlight the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists will continue throughout the summer. Following round 2 interviews and the semi-finale pitch, the top 20 and top 10 finalists will be announced in August and September respectively.

ABH will culminate in a grand finale show later this year, where the top 10 finalists will take the stage to pitch business legends – including Jack Ma – for a chance to win their share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

A number of round 1 judges commented on their experience with Africa’s Business Heroes, noting:

“I am thrilled to have served as a judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition. It’s been an honour to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries. In these challenging times, getting to discover how the ABH applicants manage to turn challenges into opportunities, with a real sense of purpose and dedication to improve the conditions of people in their communities strengthens my belief in the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa.” said the Team Lead at Agence Française de Développement, Isadora Bigourdan Bryden.

“Driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship, the tangible benefits of social good, and a strong sense of community pride, this startup competition is special – showcasing many promising ideas and a diverse group of African startups. It’s been inspirational to see these founders, deeply rooted and passionate, create change in their world.” commented a Silicon Valley Startup Advisor, Triane Chang.

“It is truly heartwarming to see that so many young entrepreneurs are working passionately to drive high-impact social projects across the African continent. The judging process was not an easy task as all participants submitted very high-quality applications with compelling business propositions. As the competition progresses, I look forward to following the finalists’ journey and how they will use their talent and skills to generate positive change in their communities and beyond.” added the Manager, Group Strategy at Philips, Firas Ezzeddine.

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