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Nigeria govt, Ecobank target new start-ups

Nigeria govt, Ecobank target new start-ups

From Nigeria, the Office of the Vice President has launched StartupNigeria, a three-month incubation program designed to support local entrepreneurs to create viable products, go to market and gain traction.

The programme is aimed at any individual/ start-up with an idea or a solution in agriculture and governance (the North-Central region) and commerce/FinTech (the South-Eastern region)

The curriculum is designed to help idea and early-stage entrepreneurs find their footing and grow within Nigeria's ultra-competitive socio-economic terrain.

Final deadline for application for the programme, which covers training, mentorship and equity-free funding to selected start-ups in two geo-political zones of the country, is 5 May.

The zones cover 12 states targeting 20 start-ups across four sectors.

Start-ups that miss out on being selected for the incubation programme can still access support in business model generation, customer acquisition and other business engineering skills from StartupNigeria.

Those at the idea stage can also apply to participate in a hackathon that could secure them entry into the incubation programme, while those with MVP - Minimum Viable Product - in listed sectors can apply directly.

Relatedly, Ecobank has launched its annual FinTech challenge to support and partner start-ups and developers.

Its areas of interest include solutions for digital onboarding/account opening/KYC, remittances, digital sales/marketing, offline mobile to mobile payments (Dead Zones), multi-channel corporate payments/collections ecosystems and SME intra-Africa trade platform.

There are cash prizes of US$10,000, US$7000, and US$5000 for the top three winners coupled with a multinational product roll out across Ecobank's 33 markets in Africa.

The pan-African innovation competition ends on 23 May and to qualify, start-ups must submit a demo that reflects their actual product.

While the 2017 edition of the challenge reportedly produced over US$100,000 worth of business development support to finalists, none of them met the requirements for the equity investment opportunity due to a lack of strategic fit with Ecobank's current strategy, the bank notes on its website.

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