By Vera Anyagafu
As part of efforts to enhancing UK-Nigeria diplomatic relationship, the British High Commission, over the weekend, hosted the Nigerian leg of the 2019 Go Global Africa Programme, a UK international programme developed as part of the International Tech Hub Network which aims at building up both early stage startup individuals and companies with the tools needed to expand and improve their business skills and capability, build links with UK’s thriving tech sector and work with UK expertise to take their business to the next level.
At the event which took place at the UK Deputy High Commissioners residence in Lagos, 15 start-ups were selected from an unprecedented 340 entries who presented their pitches to a combined Nigerian and British panel of tech experts.
According to British Deputy High Commissioner, Laure Beaufils, the 15 pitches and the huge Nigerian interest in Go Global shows just how much huge entrepreneurial talent and potential already in existence in Nigeria’s digital economy.
“I am committed to bringing together the best of the UK’s tech sector with Nigeria’s tech entrepreneurs. This is a win-win for both our economies. The Go Global programme is the first of many support programmes, particularly in the areas of tech and financial inclusion that we will be working with Nigeria on, following the commitments made last August when the Prime Minister visited Nigeria”, Laure said, adding that, due to the volume and quality of applications received in Nigeria the number of Nigeria, two additional slots had been awarded, bringing the number of winners up to 7 from 5.
Also, Minister for Digital Margot James, said that, “This is a fantastic opportunity to support Nigerian start-ups and entrepreneurs to build their businesses and develop solutions to global challenges. I congratulate those firms chosen to participate in this exciting and intensive programme in the UK. It is an integral part of the deep UK-Nigeria tech partnership announced during Prime Minister May’s visit to Africa in August and will be a real boost to those using technology to improve people’s lives.”
Similarly, prominent UK tech sector leader Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK and a panel judge, said, “I have been deeply impressed by the quality of the Nigerian start-ups pitching today. The UK’s tech sector thrives on international collaboration and I look forward to seeing more Nigerian companies look to the UK for finance and business opportunities.”
Notably, the UK is ideally placed to be Nigeria’s go to tech partner, having produced 1 in 5 of the continent’s billion-dollar tech unicorns and is home to the big European tech investors, with 7 of Europe’s 10 leading unicorn venture capital hunter funds, with more than 2.1 million people working in the UK’s digital economy.
However, the scheme which aims to boost both countries’ economies and help the UK achieve its aim of being the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, will give the winning entries the opportunity to travel to the UK and be sponsored to join a delegation of ambitious African start-ups to the UK for a 2-week immersive programme in March 2019.
The winning Nigerian entrepreneurs are RemindMe, an app by Innovation corner that would use USSD and text to remind new mothers of vaccination dates, Piggybank; an automates savings and investment solution, Social Lender; a money lending solution that uses social media platforms, Thriveagric; a program that lowers the entry barrier for people willing to invest in agriculture by connecting farmers to crowdsourced finance, Helium Health; a hospital management software, Helpmum; an app that provides healthcare information to c