The Nigerian technological scene is one of the biggest in Africa, despite the challenges it faces daily. These challenges include poor funding and access to funds, poor infrastructure and education, amongst other factors. For an average young person starting up a business in Nigeria, these challenges could be discouraging as the hurdles to being a successful business owner are often overwhelming. Many young Nigerians have business ideas, but actualizing their ideas becomes difficult, especially when funding the business ideas.
To make the problem of funding a thing of the past for some startup businesses in Nigeria, the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA), in collaboration with National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), held a media briefing at Aiivon Innovation hub on Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, to inform the public about Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Startup Gateway in Abuja, Nigeria. NINJA is set up to empower five individuals or groups of young people with Innovative Startup business ideas in Nigeria with Eight thousand dollars each on software, hardware, and other technologies to help them to become self-reliant. The five young startup businesses would be chosen through a selection process.
The NINJA Startup Gateway is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and it aims to support young people with great business ideas in achieving their goals.
The representative of JICA Nigeria, Mr. Sato Shohei, explained that the project would help the beneficiaries set up their own businesses and promote entrepreneurship and technological innovation in Nigeria. Mr. Shohei further explained that NINJA Startup Gateway is targeted at young individuals or groups, mainly between 18-35 years old, who are not legally incorporated yet but have great business ideas. He said the programme aims to solve social problems through business by supporting Nigerian youths and accelerating their business.
He went on to say “ NINJA Startup Gateway does not just create a profitable and sustainable business, but it also allows for the creation of jobs and several opportunities for the youth”. Shohei also added “What’s important is that NINJA Startup Gateway creates an environment where the youth is focused on creating jobs, rather than finding them. Thus, it provides an alternative solution to the problem of unemployment that is currently facing a majority of the youth”.
Adeseye Oguntade, a senior Innovation officer at NITDA, who was NITDA’s representative, explained that NINJA Startup Gateway in Abuja is to encourage innovations solving the prominent problems of the society by emerging technologies.
The Senior Innovation Officer, NITDA, Mr. Adeseye Oguntade, said that the initiative was in line with the National ICT Policy Document of the Federal Government. He said NITDA would support and create enabling environment for the success of the project. According to him, “In 2020, NITDA opened the center for artificial intelligence and robotics to support innovation-driven entrepreneurs that have futuristic ideas by leveraging on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blotching Technology and Data Exploration Framework and Strategy for adoption into the digital economy”
Mr. Ama Ase, a partner in the project, explained that the project would assist youths address some community issues using applications.
Mr. Samson Attah Igoche, CEO of Aiivon Innovation hub said they had worked with several organizations in the past to encourage start-ups, but what sets the NINJA program apart is the fact that it plans to work with start-ups who have good ideas, who are at different levels, including those still at the pre-incubation stage, as against other organization who preferred to work with start-ups that are already on a certain level of establishment. He said he was optimistic that project NINJA would help Nigerian Youths in startup businesses create more employment opportunities and help improve the security situation in the country.
Story: Ene Ken-Yawe
Pictures: Ehizogie Ohiani & Ene Ken-Yawe