Data from Business Consultant and venture capitalist, Maxime Bayen’s business database Africa report, otherwise known as the Big Deal has shown that since the beginning of 2021, Africa-based tech startups have raised more than $2.9 billion.
This indicated that Nigerian startups, which are creating new products, services, and platforms, raised $1.7 billion of this total or about 60 per cent of it, as Africa boasts a total of seven tech “unicorns,” or companies valued at over $1 billion.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Berth Leonard in her remarks at the 2021 Nigeria Tech Summit organised by the US Embassy in Nigeria, Abuja, said the U.S. Mission will continue to do its part to support Nigeria’s burgeoning tech scene and encourage the creation of enabling environment necessary to foster a sector that will, in turn, launch more global businesses and contribute to a more prosperous future for all its citizens.
Leonard said it is very exciting to note that three of these of seven African tech companies – OPay, Flutterwave, and Interswitch – are born and bred of Nigerian talent as she firmly believes that Nigeria, with the proper support, has enormous potential to do more.
According to Leonard: “At the U S. Mission in Nigeria, we pride ourselves on building, celebrating, and accelerating entrepreneurship. Throughout the year, we amplify the work of innovation stakeholders by providing exposure, partnerships, training, and conferences like this Nigeria Tech Summit”.
Speaking further, Leonard said Science, technology, and innovation are cornerstones of the U.S. economy, and the United States has a long-established global expertise and leadership in the digital space.
“Strengthening these areas can foster open, transparent governance throughout the world. By implementing capacity-building programs in emerging markets that train young women and men to become science and technology entrepreneurs.
“Our efforts to strengthen innovation ecosystems around the world have real economic impacts and propel prosperity in Nigeria, the United States, and beyond.
“I am proud of the United States’ many contributions to this necessary transfer of Skills and mentoring here in Nigeria. For example, I began December by traveling to Ife to meet with graduates of the Academy of Women’s Entrepreneurs.
“This programme combines mentoring and networking opportunities with a curriculum developed by one of the top U.S. business schools: Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management.
“We have seen over 550 women entrepreneurs graduate from this programme since its inception in 2019. These women continue to engage each other and share business successes in a wide range of ventures, from book creation to food products, consultancy to artisanal production. We look forward to mentoring future cohorts.
“I also want you to know that our commitment and support to such key populations within Nigeria was not hindered by the pandemic. We continued to recruit and promote Mandela Washington Fellows.
“We were thrilled this October when Vice President Osinbajo took time to engage our most recent cohort of Nigerian fellows, encouraging Nigerian youth to get involved in political processes and effect change in their communities.
“More than 250,000 Nigerians engage with the United States through the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, Network. Do you know that YALI offers eight free online courses related to entrepreneurship? Just this week, we introduced a new course, “Digital Marketing for Entrepreneurs.
“Targeted to help online businesses, this course addresses personal branding, website design best practices, and development and execution of a digital marketing strategy. These digital skills have real-world impacts for entrepreneurs and small businesses across sectors.
“In addition to training and networking opportunities, I would be remiss if I did not mention important programmes that the United States supports to strengthen small businesses through competition and exchange”.
“In April 2021, USAID Nigeria together with the USAID Exploratory Programs and Innovation Competitions (EPIC) Team launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge. Thirty-two small and medium enterprises from 33 of Nigeria’s states won and received awards totaling $4 million in funding and technical assistance to implement their solutions that improve food security here.”