The United Kingdom (UK) government, in January through the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub launched it's iNOVO Accelerator Programme for 10 early stage startups building innovative solutions to tackle the challenges caused by COVID-19 across the Education, Agriculture and Health sector in Nigeria.
In partnership with StartupBootcamp Afritech and Ventures Platform as implementing partners, the three months virtual programme afforded the top 10 selected startups an opportunity to receive capacity building and learn startup training, mentorship, and support to scale their products and business models rapidly.
The top 10 startups across EdTech, AgriTech and HealthTech also received an opportunity to validate their solutions with pilots and proof of concept engagements and use their newfound insights to rapidly pivot and scale. This was done with the help of dedicated entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and industry experts. To wrap up the programme, these startups also got the opportunity to pitch in front of an audience comprised investors, corporate and government partners at the virtual demo day event.
The second pronged strategy of the programme was to also provide a great learning experience for selected startups that couldn't make a cut into the programme. Of a total of 750 applications received, the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub also sponsored 100 startups from the pool of applications received to gain life-time access to the Accelerator Squared platform where they are provided with the necessary insights and modules to help them build products and companies to scale impact.
Founders were very impressed by the Accelerator Squared platform-the interactive playbook that provides startup founders with more than a dozen graduated modules to progress through every stage of the startup journey was a valuable asset that assisted in helping them fine-tune their business models.
The Interim Country Director of the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, Lamide Johnson said: "Seeing the incredible impact this programme has been for the participating startups is a testament to the fact that if we want to give room for innovation to solve some of the arduous problems faced in Nigeria, more interventions such as this are needed to provide the needed information, network and support for early-stage startups building innovative solutions.
"Through this programme, we readily saw the need to support and provide more spring-boards for early-stage startups seeking to scale their impact."
Speaking on the programme experience, some of the top 10 startups gave remarkable feedback on how the iNOVO Accelerator programme had an impact on their startups.
The Chief Executive Officer of Schoola Abdul Bature, stated: "It has been an incredible three months of hard work. With the help of StartupBootcamp AfriTech and Ventures Platform, our gamified learning solutions for secondary and primary schools has managed to get the attention of corporate partners and key stakeholders, which has led to a partnership with the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges and an onboarding of 25 other partners."
CEO of Foodbank.ng, a food loan service startup, Damilola Olaopa, said through the programme, his team managed to leverage the partnerships made to get the required support. "The partnerships we have made will help us to scale our operations rapidly. Our partnership with First Bank reduces our exposure to risk as the bank takes on the responsibility of providing the funds, creditworthiness assessment, recollection and reconciliation of loans. This will not only help us scale our operations rapidly but will also lead to more revenue for the bank and for us too," Olaopa said.