3 April 2014

Nigeria: Aganga - Start-Up Entrepreneurs Will Drive Nigeria's Economy

Impressed with the rate of development among start-up entrepreneurs, coupled with recent statistics on technology development in the country, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, has said start-up entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the country's economic growth.

The minister, who gave the information during his keynote address at the Angel Investors' Forum in Lagos recently, said: "The big businesses are still active in growing the nation's economy, but with the rate at which small technology companies that are evolving in software development, they are likely going to be the biggest drivers of the Nigerian economy going forward. Already, start-up entrepreneurs represent 50 per cent of Nigeria's Gross Domestic Products (GDP)."

According to him, "There are several pockets of small technology businesses that are doing very well in the country, and when these are aggregated, they represent 50 per cent of Nigeria's GDP."

Although he identified funding as a major drawback to start-up entrepreneurs, he explained that the Angel Investors' Forum, which is a group of core investors across West Africa, would create opportunity for start-ups to showcase their products before the investors, aimed at seeking reasonable funding and mentoring from the investors.

Over 70 investors were present at the forum, while over 20 small businesses that registered, were given the opportunity to make good sales pitch about their products and the usefulness to the society.

Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Angel Network of Investors, Mr. Tomi Davies explained that the essence of the event was to bring investors together to listen to start-up entrepreneurs and invest in their products that are of interest to the investors.

According to him, experience has shown that the banks only lend money to businessmen and businesswomen with heavy collateral, which the start-ups entrepreneurs do not have and as such, cannot get bank loan.

He explained that the forum would gave the entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet with core investors that could raise seed funding for them and at the same time nurture them and their products to maturity and to a level where they become commercially viable within and outside Nigeria.

He gave an example where he invested up to N2 million in the business of an entrepreneur some few years ago, and that just last year, the business generated N270 million profit. "Such is the beauty of investment," Davies said.

Explaining the reason for investors' interests in start-ups, Davies added that the investors had since realised that the Nigerian population comprises of more youths that are technology savvy and willing to develop solutions that will address the Nigerian and African challenges.

"If this set of youths are encouraged, they will in deed turn around the economy for the better in no distant time," he said.

Nigeria, he explained was gradually moving away from over-dependence on oil and gas, to software development, food processing, eCommerce among other businesses that are technologically driven.

Looking at the opportunity for Nigeria, Davies said the forum would give Nigeria the opportunity to showcase technology creativity that will attract global interests.

The Lagos Angel Network is an exclusive network of Angel Investors, providing early stage, seed funding and mentoring to start-up entrepreneurs, with a focus on growing the diversity of enterprises that make up Lagos. It is supported by African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA).

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