ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Innovative entrepreneurs need more opportunities to thrive [ICT Clinic]

A few weeks ago, Bloomberg published a scathing editorial on Nigeria titled, ‘Only Growth Can Defuse Nigeria’s Poverty Time Bomb’ and as a Nigerian, reading that piece made me wonder, what truly is the way forward? Here is the poser in that piece, that got me thinking; “Nigeria’s success or failure in confronting extreme poverty will be pivotal for the rest of Africa, too — partly because of its huge population, but also because of its outsize influence over its neighbours.”

What this simply tells me, is that our success, or, otherwise, as a nation, will have a greater impact on Africa, as a continent and the world at large. I know some people have argued that Bloomberg oped is biased and simply designed to drive a narrative. I am not oblivious of that but one thing I can tell for sure is that as a Nigerian living in Nigeria, there is great discontent among young people as we are simply not creating enough jobs neither are we empowering them enough.

Ardent followers of this column know that I make it a point of duty to positively mention any corporate organisations that have made a decision to invest and support the innovation ecosystem, a space I am working hard alongside many others to continuously build. Penultimate week, I spent the evening with a set of six young entrepreneurs at the Deji Alli ARM Young Talent Award, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by ARM group, supported by TechnoVision. The initiative is designed to educate and empower the younger generation to make a meaningful socio-economic impact in their immediate environment and the nation. What was the reward for the winning idea? Well, the sum of N12m that will be disbursed over a period of one year to develop the winner’s business plan, complete a five-month entrepreneurial education. The winner also received a five-month support for the development of his venture through an accelerator programme.

All five contestants had ideas and solutions that I believe would solve certain national problems. Coming in fifth position was, Oluwayomi Oyatoye of MechoMedics, whose initiative aims to address the problem of poor adoption of the new Secondary School curriculum in Nigerian schools, specifically, in the area of implementing trade courses and entrepreneurship development. Daniel Odediran of PrestPro came in fourth with his idea, which aims to produce energy-saving cooling system, using clay for the preservation of freshly plucked tomatoes in order to extend their shelf life. Yusuf Shittu of ‘Jojolo’ Neo Childcare bagged the third position.

He described Neo Childcare as a mobile child health service provider that sought to provide top-quality and affordable healthcare for children, especially, in low-income communities in Nigeria. Dare Odumade of Chekkit clinched the second position with his innovation, which is an anti-counterfeiting, asset-tracking and consumer feedback analytics platform and tool aimed at addressing the problem of counterfeiting, pilferage and inefficient supply of products.

The winning idea of DAAYTA 2019 was WeSabi, a start-up, founded by Murtala Sani, with the aim of helping users to find reliable and pre-screened artisans in their neighbourhood, through a website, mobile app and a USSD platform. The platform is emerging as the premier marketplace for the blue-collar sector in Africa.

Personally, I was impressed with what I witnessed because the youngest of all five that pitched is 23 years old Daniel Odediran. My words of encouragement to him was simply this, ‘Daniel, at 23, I was desperately looking at getting a job but in your case, at 23, you are thinking of — Finish Reading on the Punch