By Emeka Aginam
THE N300 billion innovation fund released by the Federal Government of Nigeria as seed fund to grow local technology start-ups, is expected to create up to 35,000 jobs in the country. The seed fund will work in concert with the $50 million target seed fund which an investment company, EchoVC, has promised to inject for the growth of African tech startups. EchoVC is the sole manager of the Federal Government’s fund.
The company, a seed and early stage technology-focused Lagos-based venture capital also promised to fill the seed fund and early stage financing gap. The Managing Partner of the company, Mr. Eghosa Omoigui who disclosed this during a press conference on Monday in Lagos said that his company plans to make investment of $1.5 million per startup with a goal of making forty to fifty investments throughout the life of the fund.
Existing investors, he said included a mix of domestic and foreign institutional investors and asset managers. “We made four investments in Nigeria in 2015 and anticipate making up to 10 seed-stage investments in 2016”, he said. He said that companies backed up by venture capital have been a major driver of technology innovation, economic growth and job creation over the last forty years.
The company’s investment in disruptive and innovative technology startups in Nigeria that grow to become category leaders, he said would transform opportunities currently available to the ever growing population.
Institutional angel funding
Part of the plan of the company to support tech startups, according to him was to fill the seed and early stage gap by providing mentorship and institutional angel funding to promising entrepreneurs and co-developing and stimulating the existing local angel community. Working with portfolio companies to enhance value and exit value, deliver value added with formal knowledge transfer frameworks that cross-polinate US, Asia, Africa based entrepreneur insight, co-invest in first institutional financings of emerging market technology companies with traction, he added are part of their plans.
“Our strategy underpins a disruptive approach: to invest at the intersection of consumer, media, commerce, data technology & mobile devices layered by networked knowledge. We target equity and equity-related seed and early stage technology investments in Nigeria (and the broader Pan-African region). “Nigeria, as one of the main growth drivers for Africa, is also one of the primary growth drivers for the firm. We seek to capitalize on Nigeria’s burgeoning period of growth in technology innovation and identify and invest in next generation companies that will lead this technology renaissance across the continent.
“The fund will also opportunistically evaluate investment opportunities in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia”, he explained. According to him, EchoVC makes investments of $1.5M per startup with a goal of making forty to fifty investments throughout the life of the fund. Specific technology sectors of interest according to him included consumer Internet and Services, Data, Mobile, Social, Digital Media, Content and Advertising, e-commerce, Software, linguistics, Gaming, Business intelligent, last-mile services, among others
“Our focus is on technologies that support the “99% bulge” of underserved populations. Investments target high-growth services and scalable products in select markets, with distinct and sustainable competitive advantages, all of which affect daily life and provide essential services in large growing markets.
“Our strategy underpins a disruptive approach: to invest at the intersection of consumer, media, commerce, data technology & mobile devices layered by networked knowledge. We target equity and equity-related seed and early stage technology investments in Nigeria (and the broader Pan-African region). The ICT Innovation Fund (with a $10m commitment from NITDA), to be managed by EchoVC, he said was officially announced in September 2014 by the then Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson.
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