By Oluwatobi Opusunju
Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, is planning to strengthen technological innovation and entrepreneurship among Nigerian youths with the ‘Lagos Innovates’ program this month. The program is designed to beef up funding and mentors stream for the tech startup ecosystem mostly housed in Lagos.
The program according to its website is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa with the long-term goal of being the hub for technological innovation and the home for tech-driven entrepreneurship in Africa.
“Lagos has a growing startup ecosystem and is a foremost startup hub in Nigeria, thus, Lagos Innovates role is to enable the growth and success of the Lagos ecosystem by providing tech-focused entrepreneurship with the access and support needed to scale and thrive. Lagos Innovates symbolizes the collective goal of the startup community and seeks to position Lagos as a pivotal startup hub.
“Lagos Innovates offers a suite of tech startup-focused programs created for the highest potential entrepreneurs who want to build the next unicorn out of Lagos. Lagos Innovates is an audacious, determined move by the LSETF to support innovation, strengthen the tech startup funding pipeline and support a deepening of the ecosystem in Lagos State,” a statement on the website stated.
Applications for the first phase of the Lagos Innovates initiative are already on with three programmes opened, while others are to be opened subsequently in the coming months. Applications for the available programs will be closing on the 12th of this month.
The available programs are:
Workspace Vouchers: This program is dedicated to supporting founders and/or startups in Lagos State at the very early stages of their ventures (ideation to very early revenue) by facilitating access to well-equipped workspaces and learning. As part of the criteria for eligibility, the startup shouldn’t be generating more than a million Naira in the year and the team will not include any paid staff.
Hub Loan: With this, the initiative will be making meaningful capital available on very attractive terms to high-performing, outcome-focused workspace providers in Lagos State. While this is only available to hubs based in Lagos state, the Hub Loan program is available to operators who are looking to fund expansion or improvement of their existing facilities at current sites or to increase their number of locations.
Events Sponsorship: This offers co-sponsorship for events and activities that are aimed at supporting network-building, knowledge-sharing, collaboration and marketing for Lagos-based founders and startups. Organisers of high-quality, preferably smaller-format events and activities (e.g. pitch events, fireside chats, hackathons, etc.) will be eligible to access up to N5 million of co-sponsorship per event.
Although the Lagos Innovates initiative has dedicated a quarterly budget to co-sponsorship of events, it is looking to sponsor at least one event per quarter.
Lagos Innovates is an initiative of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).