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Startups face tough times, but covid-19 has created opportunities for evaluation and optimisation – Yabani

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Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) has created opportunities for evaluation and optimisation in the Nigerian startup ecosystem.

The World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) High Commissioner for Nigeria, Hauwa Yabani, made this observation while presenting her perspective to the key findings of a global survey conducted by the Forum that included business owners from more than 81 countries and across multiple industries led by the WBAF Chairman, Baybars Altuntas.

WBAF on startups

WBAF on startups

She said that “as with all other affected countries, Nigeria is facing enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on all sectors of the economy; that, with an economy that is highly dependent on global crude oil demand for foreign exchange and government revenue, the crash in crude oil prices has devastated public finances, further exacerbating the situation.”

“The resort to state-wide lockdowns to control the spread of the virus has led to a major slowdown of economic activities. While the public isolation centres for COVID-19 positive patients are yet to be overwhelmed with a relatively low level of fatalities recorded thus far relative to the population, the same cannot be said on the situation of the economy.

“In response to these challenges, His Excellency, the President of Nigeria, constituted an Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) to develop a concrete plan of actions to address the impending economic crisis. The Committee has put forward several recommendations including fiscal and monetary measures such as tax reliefs for start-ups and, loans for micro, small and medium sized businesses (from the Central Bank of Nigeria). Many private sector organisations have also made significant contributions in response to the crises.”

Yabani added that “startups that are resilient, repositioning technology as a major enabler, and participating in various capacity building programs are increasing their chances not only of survival but also of attaining sustainable growth.

“Start-ups in some sectors such as health, logistics and other essential services have seen spikes in the demand for their products or services, but have struggled to meet the demand due to the corresponding funding requirements which are not readily accessible.

“It is not surprising that some start-ups have had to fold up while others are grappling with appreciating the importance of digital literacy, establishing online presence to retain or gain new customers, and utilising the various emerging transaction channels.”

“The general expectation in Nigeria is that the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually wither, as the Ebola, Zika, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses have in recent years. However, the socio-economic impact on the economy, especially on the start-up ecosystem, will remain for long after especially for those that fail to adapt to the new normal. It is a time for optimistic pragmatism”.

An affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), the WBAF is an international organisation contributing immensely towards easing access to finance for businesses from startup to scaleup, with the ultimate goal of generating more jobs and more social justice worldwide.

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It is committed to collaborating globally to empower world economic development by creating innovative financial instruments for innovators, startups, and Small & Medium Enterprises.

The Forum interacts with global leaders in all areas of society, first and foremost in business and political spheres, to help assess needs and establish goals, bearing in mind that the public interest is of importance.

It engages a wide range of institutions, both public and private, local and international, commercial and academic to help shape the global agenda.’ WBAF’s operating structure presently comprises a Board, 30 High Commissioners, 119 Senators, 57 International Partners and 47 Faculty Members from 96 countries.