Global Alliance Africa: Accelerating Youth-Led Innovations in Nigeria
Developing economies such as Nigeria are highly dependent on innovation, especially youth-led innovations as they present endless opportunities. These solutions and new digital technologies create resolutions to fight sickness, poverty and hunger in the poorest regions of the world. However, for these youth-led innovations to develop, they need conducive environments and ecosystems that enable growth and acceleration.
For this reason, and to commemorate International Youth Day, the Global Alliance Africa project delivered by Innovate UK KTN hosted an online dialogue under the theme “Accelerating youth-led innovations” on 19 August. This aligns with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Innovation activities of Innovate UK KTN. Led by a panel of experts, namely, Isioma Utomi (Moderator), Emmanuel Oyemade, the Founder of Modomise, Oluwatoyin Emmanuel-Olubake, Investment Direct at Novastar Ventures, Ugochi Obi, Head at X-Academy, Nigerian Exchange and Aghogho Akporido, Senior Programme manager and head StartUps and Youth Enterprise, Fate Foundation, the dialogue delved into challenges, opportunities and learning areas available for youth-led innovators in the country.
Speaking about the challenges that were highlighted in his previous research paper, looking at institutional voids in developing countries such as Nigeria, speaker Abiola Adebayo, lecturer at Sheffield Business School in the UK, said that institutional voids serve as a challenge, and can also be translated into opportunities for innovators.
It’s impossible for us to talk about developing countries without talking about institutional problems, simply because of the gaps that we have between developed economies and developing countries. Youth-led innovations have a greater advantage in contributing to real life solutions, however a collaborative approach is needed to reach this goal. There’s no economy that can grow without innovators, especially youth-led innovations as they contribute to job creation.
Further elaborating on the impact of collaboration, innovator and winner of the 2021 Young Innovators Award, a programme of the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, Emmanuel Oyemade, said that as a young entrepreneur, his biggest challenge was implementing a mindset transition.
As young innovators, it’s quite common to start your business as a side hustle, or a hobby. However, to grow, you will reach a point where you require funding, and have to transition from the ‘hobby’ mindset to a business mindset that you can present to funders. So, becoming part of the Young Innovators Awards opened my mind into the business world and influenced how I run my business, with the assistance of mentors and tailored business support.
Nigeria is a leading country for startups, however, just like any other developing country, local innovators are largely facing funding challenges that hinder their success rate. Data from Amazon which focuses on startup funding above $100,000 in Africa showed that of the big four in Africa — Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Kenya—only Nigeria witnessed a dip in the quarter.
As a solution for young innovators seeking funding, Investment Director at Novastar Ventures, Oluwatoyin Emmanuel-Olubake, said that entrepreneurs need to know that funders operate across a spectrum.
The different parts of the spectrum have an appetite for different types of risks. And with that, they also have a different appetite for the types of returns. So, what compliance means to lenders will not look at things such as if you’re registered, but how you manage your books on the governance side such as the handling of the administration of the business, he adds.
Global Alliance Africa Knowledge Transfer Manager for Nigeria, Joshua Adedeji, concluded that the youth-led innovation dialogue is meant to bring solutions for the youth and provide platforms that allow them to accelerate.
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About Global Alliance Africa
The Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
For more information about the project, please visit https://ktn-uk.org/programme/africa.
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