Let’s Make The Tech Ecosystem In Nigeria Great .
“if each one could reach one,
Then each one can teach one.
What a much more beautiful nation nigeria would be”
– Charles Charles Bruce Chukuma (aka Chaz B)
The quote above was used as parting remarks by one of Nigeria’s most beloved radio presenters of all time. Known as ChazB, he anchored “sharing life issues”, a family talk show, and was known for his soothing baritone voice which reached thousands of households and helped a lot of families. His words aptly captures what I believe is the biggest growth hack for the Nigeria startup ecosystem.
What’s the biggest growth hack for Nigeria tech startup ecosystem?
Last year, I wrote a post about the possibility of any Nigerian startup achieving $100 billion valuation (It is a good read, especially for all the solutions I recommended to make it happen).
However, there is a missing piece that needs to be in place before one “lucky” startup gets the billion dollar valuation. It is so significant, yet it does not really have a monetary tag. In fact, Silicon Valley is not even an exception to this school of thought.
- I learnt the “secret” of this school of thought from Andrew Chen, (currently head of growth at Uber). In his inspiring blog post about his first 10 years in Silicon Valley, he noted that the secret sauce of the most successful companies is that people are helping each other to grow. In essence, he was saying that we all need the strength that comes from supporting one another to succeed. Magic happens when we help each other.
- Victor Asemota puts this better in his Guardian article when he explains the role that friend and family play for the success of business owners. The post is a brilliant piece on the impact that networks like Harambe network have on the most successful companies out of Africa.
Why We Really Need A More Helpful Tech Startup Ecosystem In Nigeria?
The biggest driver of growth for the ecosystem will happen when we collaborate with each other. I am a big believer in the “gospel” of investing in initiatives that enable us to share knowledge, build community, network with each other and form a common bond.
The good thing is that I see a couple of these helpful support system happening in Nigeria tech space already. I have been privileged to know some phenomenal people who are not just building their own businesses, but investing in the growth of the ecosystem.
A few of them are worth mentioning.
Meet 7 Tech ecosystem builders in Nigeria.
Fred Chukwuemeka — Producer, TechTrends show
Better known as CFA has used TechTrends (Africa’s biggest tech show on TV) to share the narrative of many entrepreneurs with the global market. I also know of 2 events he hosts including NITEC (where I spoke last year) and his monthly, free-to-attend startup hangout with industry leaders in the ecosystem. He also uses his column in Punch newspaper and his membership of Nigeria internet Registration Agency (NiRA) to actively crusade for growth of tech ecosystem.
Bolaji Finnih — CEO, Techprenuer Africa
Bolaji is an MIT alumnus trying to get the corporates, government and VCs to “understand” tech. While his roles might not be obvious to many, he is one of the few people who have access to “eavesdrop” on the policies of government that will affect startups and also bring all stakeholders to the table for the benefit of the ecosystem. When we met, we talked about his passions for making tech in Nigeria go mainstream.
According to him, the biggest pain points is getting government, institutions and corporates on the same page with startups in order to accelerate growth. To solve these pain points, he founded TechPrenuer Africa, with support from MIT Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship and the MasterCard Foundation.
Bankole Oluwafemi — cofounder, Big Cabal Media
Many people know him as a superstar when it comes to connecting people in the ecosystem. He has used his blog TechCabal.com to facilitate conversations around tech in Nigeria. Creating Radar — an online community for founders and tech people — has been one of his most significant contributions to the ecosystem as it has over 2,000 members that are passionate about tech ecosystem in Nigeria. Bankole, along with Seyi Taylor, his cofounder has hosted Techcabal battlefield, Radar offline event and series of “Ask Me Anything” with industry experts which have brought a lot of useful engagements in the ecosystem.
Adewale Yusuf — TechPoint.NG
Few might know Adewale but many more know that TechPoint.NG — his media platform — has been on the forefront of tech consumer journalism in Nigeria. His dedication, along with Muyiwa Matuluko for creating Africa tech’s success story has helped many of them get funded. At our last chat, Adewale and I talked about several issues, including growing TechPoint to nearly 1 million visits per month, but he was more excited about something else — helping startups to get their voices heard.
This was the motivation for TechPoint tours and several verticals of the online publication (including startup nations, founders table, engine room and the recently launched Facebook video interview series with industry experts) The most exciting thing for him this year will be hosting an offline event that truly connects the startup world with corporates.
Asemota Victor — founder, Swifta.
If you have ever read any piece that Victor wrote (on his personal blog, Medium or Guardian tech), you won’t deny the depth of his experience about the tech ecosystem in Africa. He brings that depth to everyone he comes across. We spent time at Cashless Africa chatting about his proposed AltSeed fund and it is obvious he is not just about talks; he wants to leverage his network to fast forward growth while he builds Swifta and other interesting projects he is involved with.
Mark Essien — CEO, Hotels.ng
I like Mark’s passion for the developer ecosystem and some of his gestures to the ecosystem. Last year, he announced that his offices will be available for free to host tech events.
I took him on that offer last year to host a free masterclass event. Several events like forLoop have also held there saving the organisers up to N100k on cost of power, event space and projector. Thank you Mark. (I actually wrote a 1,500+ word post on what I like about Mark Essien’s business growth strategies)
Maya Horgan — Founder, Ingressive.
When Maya returned to Nigeria from Silicon Valley, she contributed to solving the biggest challenges local startups have, which include access to offshore funding and network. Through her company Ingressive, she has leveraged her Silicon Valley network to curate market access for VCs, Angels and Corporates while making introductions for local startups. Last year, she partnered with Dotun Olowoporoku — another guy I respect — to host high growth Africa summit, where she demonstrated to me her amazing network skills.
And so many more…
There is a long list of people like these like OO Nwoye (CallBase), Kola Aina (Ventures Platform), Tomi Davies and Collin Onuegbu (ABAN), Aniedi Udo-Ubong (Google), Stanley Ekeh (Zinox), Olaotan Coker (Cranium One), Oluyomi Ojo (Printivo), Jason Njoku (iRoko and Spark) and several others I may not be able to mention due to space. The common factor to all of them is that they are not just interested in their individual successes , but have demonstrated passion for the entire ecosystem.
Ready to join the ecosystem builders ……Where do you start?
When you look at what some of these guys are doing, you can ask yourself, “ how can I also contribute?” Firstly, to give you inspiration, let me share more examples of what others are doing:
- Build communities: You can build a community around a knowledge area you are passionate about like UsableNG for UX/UI guys and DevCenter community for software and developers.
- Help people to answer questions: Recently, my friends Osaze Osoba started a video Q & A series and Dotun Olowoporoku launched his #AskmeAnything email series to answer questions that users submit. You can start out answering questions on Quora, NairaLand or Radar (by Techcabal) as long as you are helpful and others know it (I got such a remark after leaving a comment to a post)
- Start a blog or a newsletter or a podcast: If you have anything to share, publish it on your Medium account or get a domain and share with the world. If you are good with curation, identify blogs that cover your niche and send out their links via email or twitter to your network.
- Host meetups: There are several tech inspired meetups and masterclass you can convene. You can take inspirations from events like Silicon DrinkUp by Starta, forLoop event as well as datalytics and Usable by ccHUb. Nowadays, there are several meetups you can host, and I advise that you take Mark Essien on his offer for a free space, as long as the event is free.
My personal experience…
I hosted a free masterclass event last year with support from some amazing friends (Osaze Osoba of LocalizedDigital.com and Ekundayo Temitope of Printivo.com). Over 60 people showed up for the event at Hotels.ng office space to learn from 2 keynote speakers and 6 panelists as well as network with each other.
It became the beginning for the #Hackgrowth movement which I am currently championing.
I recently got the mail below from Yemi Johnson (head of growth and partnership at HotelsNG) that reinforces the need for more of such events.
And then this request from a past attendee of the event. he even went ahead to schedule notable speakers for future editions of the eve
My Challenge To You.
You need to accept the challenge to be more open, more helpful and if possible, do things for other people, for free. While this is counter-intuitive, you will benefit a lot from helping others, like Zig Ziglar said, “if you do good enough, it will come around to pay you”.
In memory of ChazB, here is another of his parting quote I want you to remember: “whether you know it or not, you are your sister and your brother’s keeper, So, SHOW LOVE JUST BECAUSE!!!”
## Rest in peace, ChazB
Originally published at spokentwice.com.