Start-ups in Nigeria have always been viewed as veritable vehicles for kick-starting and sustaining technological advancement in the country.
How has these start-ups fared in Nigeria in terms of being empowered to achieve this? I recently had a robust discussion with Mohammed Mega, the Founder of start-ups in Nigeria.
Mohammed is a foremost tech start-up motivator in Nigeria.
On why he it is so difficult to be a start-up in Nigeria, Mega is of the opinion that the government is not encouraging start-ups enough in Nigeria because so many of them struggle in the system.
This is due, for instance, to lack of government patronage of these start-ups for local content that can assist them to grow. He opined that many start-ups, such as Vougepay, decided to look for support outside the country when support is not coming from within, hence, this high level of struggle to survive by start-ups in Nigeria. Jega is, however, optimistic that, if the government creates the enabling environment, start-ups in Nigeria will thrive.
Responding to a question on what constitutes enabling environment for start-ups to survive, Mega stated that these includes encouraging solutions, ideas and innovations that are coming up.
In our Clime, however, he noted that our young start-ups bring forth solutions, ideas and innovations but they are not encouraged as they are always looking for capital to drive their start-ups.
Government, he said, needs to go out there and identify these talents that are scattered all over the country and support them, domesticate their solutions, link them with the ecosystem that can assist them and turn their start-ups to global solutions. For Mega, looking inwards is the at for the government to go in order to achieve local content input.
On where he is going with 'Start-up Arewa', Jega stated that his goal is to identify talents, build capacity and mentor them from the ideas stage through to start-up and incubation stages as well as assist them to become blue chips.
He stated that Start-Up Arewa is in partnership with sine Hubs in Abuja and across the Northern part of Nigeria to serve as breeding grounds for these identified start-ups. The outfit, Jega further said, is interested in seeing that these start-ups acquire the technological depths to become developers, programmers as well as come up with ideas.
This is because, if properly managed, these young start-ups can come up with solutions to solve our day to day problems.
To stem the challenges of not making profit by most start-ups, Jega said Start-Up Arewa is in collaboration with stakeholders that are already successful within the ecosystem that can support these start-ups and show them the way to go.
He stated further that hardcore developers were also brought in from Lagos to teach these start-ups on the right tools to use so they can be sustainable.
Regarding the current high rate of unemployment in the country today, Jega is of the view that technology can play a prominent role in stemming and reversing the scourge because, every young person is passionate about technology and people cannot do without technology today.
Government, he said, should use this knowledge to help the youths by teaching them how to develop apps, write programs, etc., so that they can deliver the ideas and solutions to solve our everyday problems.
On what support pillars he would like to see for the tech ecosystem to be sustainable and to help it grow beyond our wildest imagination, Jega posits that it still boils down to the government taking the initiative by looking inwards to help develop the tech ecosystem to grow, especially at the grassroots level.
The government, he also said, should look out for local stakeholders and plug in to their platforms and networks to solve our everyday problems. This way, he said, the government will be patronizing local content. On a final note, he is of the opinion that government should assist start-ups in raising capital through institutions such as the NIPC and the Bank of Industry, so that they can have funding for developing prototypes that can solve problems.
CFA is the Founder, www.CFAtech.ng & Co-producer/Presenter,Tech Trends on Channels Television