The Presidency has begun a search for start-ups that will receive the support of President Muhammadu Buhari in a bid to grow indigenous giants in the technology industry.
At two pitch events in Lagos and Abuja, 112 new firms presented their ideas to a panel of judges to get a chance to be among the final list that would meet with the President, strategic investors and financiers on July 28.
At the pitch event in Abuja, the Special Assistant to the President, Media (ICT), Mr. Olaosebikan Mosope, said the government would build incubation centres across the country to ensure the nurturing of the start-ups.
He said, “This is a programme of the Presidency in partnership with the Ministry of Communication and the National Information Technology Development Agency and the private sector. This is a show of the seriousness of the government under President Muhammadu Buhari supporting innovative ideas on start-ups, especially in technology to general business.
“We are searching for the best ideas across the country – Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. They will be presented to the President on July 28 at an event called the Aso Rock Villa Demo Day. We had 52 start-ups that pitched in Lagos. In Abuja, we have 60 start-ups.
“The whole idea is to give everybody the opportunity to share their ideas to see which of them will be selected at the end of the day. “On July 28, we will have a mix of investors, people from the private sector, public sector leaders coming to pick these start-ups and see how they can support some of them.”
He added, “We had entry of about 2,600 that applied to pitch their ideas. There was a panel that was created for the shortlist made up of mostly people in the private sector in the technology space. We had people from the banks too that formed this panel.
“The panel of judges is looking at the business models. They are looking at the viability of the projects. They are looking at the market acceptability of the products and services.
“The support of the government is not just about money; government plans to build incubation centres across the country to support these start-ups. Sometimes when you give people money, they just go. It is about understanding the stage they are in and supporting them.”
Mosope said even the start-ups that were not selected to meet the President in July would be supported as the trust of the programme was to help them to build sustainable brands in the country.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by his Personal Assistant and Senior Special Adviser on Information and Communications Technology, Lanre Osibona, at the event in Lagos, said that the programme was a build-up to the Federal Government’s plan to create a technology hub.
The technology hub, he said, would stimulate industrial growth by unlocking huge potential in the Information Technology sector.
“The idea is to spur massive IT growth and innovation that will positively affect different sectors of the economy like agriculture, manufacturing, engineering and banking.
“The objective is that talents, ideas and creativity are nurtured, promoted and transformed into value-adding services and products,” Osinbajo stated.
Meanwhile, Diamond Bank Plc has thrown its weight behind the Federal Government’s initiative to unlock unprecedented opportunities for young entrepreneurs and Information Technology start-ups under the Presidency’s pet project tagged ‘The Pitch’.
The Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, said that the bank was leading the campaign by sponsoring the programme because it was in the business of promoting ideas.
He said, “The bank is more than just being a bank, but also helping its customers to fulfill their lifestyles,” adding that the best resources Nigeria had were its people and that their ideas needed an enabling environment to thrive.
About 2,000 aspiring entrepreneurs were invited to present their revolutionary business ideas (products or services) before a panel of judges made up of business experts, thought leaders and investors.
The best 50 will qualify for the unveiling in Abuja at a presentation and exhibition ceremony to be graced by President Buhari, ministers and other top government functionaries.