Naija Tech Brain, an independent organisation dedicated to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria, recently celebrated its maiden pitch competition and gala night.
The gathering brought together top investors, startup influencers, government officials, venture capital firms, and esteemed entrepreneurs.
Graced by notable figures, including Dr. Adetola Salau, the Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Kwara state on Policy Formulation; Sophie Elejue, CEO of Push Factor; Damilola Teidi, Head of Platforms and Networks at Ventures Platform Fund; Hakeem Onasanya, Senior Business Program Manager at Africa Development Center West Africa, Microsoft; and several other influential personalities in the Nigerian business landscape.
Sherry Pepple, the Founder of Naija Tech Brain, opened the event with a heartfelt welcome address, expressing gratitude to everyone in attendance. She emphasized the organisation’s commitment to bringing positive change by empowering promising and underrepresented Nigerians. Sherry Pepple, reflecting on her experiences abroad in the finance sector, highlighted the need for entrepreneurship in Nigeria, especially in the dynamic tech and innovation space.
“Lagos is far gone in technology and has set the pace in regard to being the hub for technology and innovation. Nigerians can think, it’s only through thinking that you can bring change, and that was how Naija Tech Brain was birthed,” she shared.
The organisation embarked on a six-month journey across all states in Nigeria, identifying and nurturing young talents. The top 10 finalists underwent a 10-week isolation program, fostering collaboration, networking, and exposure to diverse perspectives. Sherry Pepple emphasized the organisation’s paradigm shift in focus – empowering startups through partnerships and sponsorships to ensure sustainable growth.
The grand finale of the pitch competition featured a keynote speech by Dr. Femi Adeluyi, the National Coordinator for the National Talent Export Programme. Dr. Adeluyi highlighted Nigeria’s potential to become a global innovation hub, stressing the importance of fostering an environment that encourages creativity, risk-taking, and adaptability.
The speaker delved into the essence of an innovative society, distinguishing between invention and innovation. Dr. Adeluyi pointed to the significance of improvement and addressed critical areas like education, healthcare, and climate change as significant for innovation. The presentation covered funding options, advising against bank loans until viability is proven, and listing various sources such as personal savings, angel investors, venture capitalists, and crowdfunding.
Government support was a focal point, with recommendations for tax incentives, grants, and startup incubators. Intellectual property protection was emphasized, cautioning against taking loans without a proven revenue stream. The talk concluded with a quote from Steve Jobs, emphasizing the opportunity for innovation in times of change.
The event featured engaging panel sessions, with discussions on leveraging technology for enhanced business operations. Experts emphasized the need for technology to connect local entrepreneurs to the global market, particularly in the context of Nigeria’s growing export potential.
The discussions covered key areas such as logistics, payments, and data analytics. The speakers highlighted the importance of awareness, technology-driven platforms, and efficient logistics solutions to bridge gaps in international trade. The role of data analytics in decision-making, particularly in supply chain management, was noted as an important factor for efficiency and effectiveness.
The highlight of the evening was the pitch competition, where the top 10 tech founders showcased their startups. Onyinye Okoh, Founder of Norah, an online gift-giving platform, emerged as the winner, securing N3 million cash prize. Jennifer Esiaba, Founder of 8mg Health, and Olaniyi Samuel, Founder of Flourish, secured the second and third positions, receiving cash prizes of N2 million and N1 million, respectively.
Sherry Pepple, Chief Coordinator and Founder of Naija Tech Brain appealed for continued support for innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria. She expressed the organization’s commitment to creating a platform for Nigerians to showcase their talents on an international scale and highlighted ongoing efforts to provide investment opportunities for founders.
The Gala Night was not just about pitches; it featured various entertaining elements, including a fashion show, comedy, and music. Special awards were presented, including an Audience Award and recognition for individuals who significantly supported the project.
Naija Tech Brain continues its dedication to fostering innovation and supporting the growth of Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. Sherry Pepple urged attendees and partners to join hands in propelling the country towards becoming a global force in technology and entrepreneurship.
Naija Tech Brain’s maiden pitch competition and gala night set a new standard for celebrating and elevating innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria. The event showcased the potential of the country’s tech ecosystem and highlighted the importance of collaboration, support, and a forward-thinking approach to building a thriving innovation landscape.