On this week’s Inside Africa, CNN International showcases Nigeria’s entrepreneurial spirit, meeting four start-up stars who are improving the world from Africa’s largest tech hub.
Firstly, the programme meets Olatunbosun “Bosun” Tijani, the brains behind one of Africa’s biggest networks of tech talent. Tijani founded the Co-Creation (CC) Hub in 2010 as a meeting place for innovators in the heart of Lagos. He speaks about his inspiration, “Science and technology can leapfrog development across Africa and there are so many smart people on this continent, we just need to build a platform that will enable them to create.”
Some of CC Hub’s successful partnerships include a healthcare logistics company that delivers lifesaving blood, a digital security platform promoting internet safety, and Google-sponsored ‘Pitch Drives’ that help introduce African start-ups to Asia.
Tijani discusses the Hub’s strategy, “I believe that Africa is going to be a lot stronger if we start to see the continent as one. How do we leverage the expertise and resources that you may find in a country like Kenya and lay eyes on the creativity and energy that you find in Nigeria?”
Tijani’s latest venture is the STEM café, an imaginative space dedicated solely to children. He tells CNN about the project, “I want to help build a generation of people in Africa with a strong belief in science, people that are comfortable in science, that can apply science to change things. So, it’s a maker space for kids. It’s a space where we don’t use curriculums. It’s a nonlinear way of teaching so we actually don’t teach but we encourage kids to build.”
Featured next is Odun Eweniyi one of the founders of PiggyVest, a financial technology company that is teaching young people the value of their money, by helping them to save it. Eweniyi explains the business, “PiggyVest is an automated savings and investment platform that helps young Nigerians put aside little amounts of money daily, weekly or monthly towards their targets or their responsibilities and eventually gives them access to micro-investments to get competency returns.”
According to Eweniyi, PiggyVest now has more than two million registered users. Despite the coronavirus shutdown and the disruptions it has caused, Eweniyi says she remains committed to her original mission of helping people save small in order to achieve big results, “Whether we’re in a crisis or out of a crisis the mission remains the same, to get them to a place where they are financially free with the power to continue to manage their finances.”
The third techpreneur is Chika Madubuko, the co-founder and CEO of Greymate Care. This healthcare start-up is a pioneer in providing on-demand care in Nigeria and Madubuko details the concept, “Before Greymate Care was launched, you would normally find someone who was a caregiver or an auxiliary nurse signing up with the hospital or an agency, but then they stayed for so long without jobs. With Greymate Care they got more jobs quickly, and they got the appropriate jobs that matched the kind of services they could provide.”
Madubuko’s company is one of many start-ups revolutionising the healthcare industry. She speaks about differentiating her product, “I knew we had to be very innovative, we have to make our processes different, we have to differentiate ourselves in the market. We added a training curriculum, which was the best in Africa, training our caregivers to make sure that they can provide adequate care to our service users. Running background checks on our caregivers to make sure that service users feel safe letting them through their door.”
Finally, Inside Africa meets documentary filmmaker Joel “Kachi” Benson. As the founder and CEO of VR 360 Stories, Benson works as a virtual reality storyteller. He speaks about his first time using the technology, “I think it was February 2018 that I wore a headset for the first time. And my experience was a Coldplay concert. It was like I was there. And I remembered what the guy was trying to tell me two years before about putting viewers in the midst of the action. All I could see was the IDP camps that I’ve been filming in northeast Nigeria, the places that I had been to, and that I felt I did not properly express with my 2D camera. You know, what a tool for storytelling.”
Benson’s 360-degree immersion into the lives of internally displaced people was a first for a Nigerian filmmaker and it influenced another project focusing on the families of the Chibok schoolgirls. He recalls the aims of the film, “With the Daughters of Chibok, what I wanted to do was to take people to Chibok and show them this reality that was almost unreal. It’s so far away, so distance, we’re so detached from the story. I wanted to put people in that space. But I also wanted to amplify the voices of these women that I saw.”
Nigeria’s techpreneurs are innovators across multiple fields of industry and are putting in the hard work to build businesses that both help and inspire.