Nigerian Companies Should fund Startups – says Tobechukwu Okigbo, CCSO MTN Nigeria

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Tobechukwu Okigbo, Chief Corporate Services Officer (CCSO), MTN Nigeria, has stated that investment by major Nigerian companies in startups will enable the growth of the ecosystem.

Speaking on the current state of the tech ecosystem at the Technology Breakout Session Panel at the Ehingbeti Economic Summit, which was held at the Eko Hotels and Suites on October 12, 2022, Okigbo, said, “From a funding perspective, major Nigerian companies can enable the growth of the ecosystem by making major investments in these startups.

“This will send a signal to the external community and most certainly increase the amount of investment these startups will receive. Nigerian companies should partner with startups as a corporate social investment to create shared value.”

MTN Nigeria recently announced the MTN Pulse Blow My Hustle initiative, which aligns with the brand’s promise to support existing businesses and startups. The initiative, which launched on Friday, October 14th, 2022, is aimed at providing grants and capacity building to 100 young Nigerian business owners aged 16 to 30.

The 100 shortlisted participants will undergo a two-week training session after which 20 finalists will compete for a range of grants as high as N10 million, which will be awarded based on the quality of pitches presented during the grand finale.

According to Disrupt Africa’s The Nigerian Start-Up Ecosystem Report 2022, Nigeria, with at least 481 active start-ups across the country, constitutes one of Africa’s “big four” startup ecosystems, along with Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa. Between 2015 and 2022, 383 tech startups raised a total of $2,068,709,445, making Nigeria one of the continent’s most popular investment destinations.

Earlier this year, Nigerian fintech firm ‘Flutterwave’ received a US$250 million Series D round, the largest round on record. This reflects the growing maturity of the Nigerian ecosystem and its fintech prowess.

Despite this growth, Nigeria faces significant challenges, including a lack of financing options and inadequate broadband internet infrastructure. Nigeria’s success in the tech ecosystem necessitates ongoing infrastructure investment to ensure the country keeps up with global counterparts such as Silicon Valley, New York, London, Boston, and Beijing.

Recent developments, such as the Nigeria Startup Bill and MTN’s commercial 5G rollout, are expected to propel growth that will enable Nigeria to catch up with its global counterparts.