THE Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said it disbursed over N50 million grants to techdriven startups in the country in 2015, according to its National Coordinator, Mr. Bunmi Okunowo, reports DigitalREALMS.

 

Speaking in Abuja at the weekend at the launch of the maiden edition of StartUP Friday at the OIIE office, Okunowo said that OIIE, in its first of many rounds of disbursements, gave the grants to incubators and accelerators that have proven records of nurturing and producing startups with growth potential.

OIIE is currently expecting the approval of its 2016 budget before it implements 2016 disbursement. “One of the major challenges facing startups is the seed funding. That early stage funding that helps the startups to get the idea off ground to prototype, to working product and commercialisation stage. Seed funding is very scarce in our society, despite the increased rates of ICT products and services springing up every now and then.

What we are doing is to assist thriving incubators and accelerators with grants in bankrolling the cost of incubating or accelerating promising tech-driven startups to successful businesses”, he said.  While speaking at a maiden edition of its special programme called StartUP Friday in Abuja, which hosted over hundred entrepreneurs from Abuja, Okunowo informed that the programme is a component of its StartUP Café designed to bridge the gap by enriching the development processes of new tech-driven businesses through “meet-up”.

The “meet up”, he said, would connect the tech-startup with investors, mentors, technology buyers and enthusiasts in major tech clusters in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Enugu as well as PortHarcourt, Ibadan and Ife. Explaining the idea behind the programme, he said StartUPFriday was a product of the feedback gotten from a study the OIIE conducted in 2015 when it launched an online application for grants. The results of the poll revealed that Lagos state has the highest number of startups that applied, while Abuja and Kaduna came second and third respectively.

“For us, it was surprising that Abuja was second. This brought out so many questions such as. Where are they? Where do they meet? Where do they go? Is there a forum where they connect and share resources, experiences and so on? We began to strategise on how to create a community of startups, an ecosystem where everyone belongs to just as we have in Lagos. A place where it doesn’t matter what hub or community you belong to, rather where all connect to share and grow.

That’s how StartUPFriday came into being”, he said.

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