The Startup Capital of Nigeria

The global enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is well represented in Akwa Ibom. Benefiting from several intrinsic advantages, the land of fulfillment is now home to a booming ecosystem supporting and revolving around startups and entrepreneurs in the tech sector as well as in several other industries.

The growth of Akwa Ibom’s startup scene is a relatively recent phenomenon. The state has largely existed as a civil service driven market and didn’t have much to show for it compared to other startup bastions in the Country. But after 2012, a series of seeds planted by Individuals, Groups, and the State government started yielding forth fruits. There is now a veritable explosion, both in the number of startups founded and the general perception of Entrepreneurship by the people.

Though the startup ecosystem of Lagos state has clearly taken the lead in the country, many other States are gearing up to attract entrepreneurs and funding. Akwa Ibom is also strategically positioned in this competition for talent. The state has several advantages that make it particularly attractive to entrepreneurs and talents, notably a rather cheap cost of living and office space, a rich, unique and welcoming culture, great food and vibrant youthful population, who make up a large number of savvy digital users that are especially active on social media.

The startups of Akwa Ibom enjoy all these benefits and are garnering support by a rapidly growing ecosystem. With a plethora of Hubs, co-working spaces, networking events, Seminars/workshops and incubators/accelerators periodically popping up and new companies setting up shop next to established ones, the State is well on its way to becoming ‘The Startup Capital of Nigeria’. Here are a few points to highlight this focus point.

STRENGTHS (ADVANTAGES)

- Ease of setting up and doing a business

- Suitable political climate

- Growing talent pool

- Low cost of living

- Peaceful cosmopolitan culture

WEAKNESSES (NEEDS)

- Small local market

- Shortage of investment opportunities on a large scale

- Redundant financial and technical infrastructure

- Low online penetration and tech literacy rate

TOP AREAS OF ACTIVITY

- Health-Tech

- Edutech

- Hyperlocal e-commerce

- Consumer services

- Analytics

- Logistics and transportation

- Market places and platforms

- Real estates

ADVICE FOR LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS

- Startup in Akwa Ibom, there are lots of unfilled opportunities waiting to be tackled, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Just get in and focus on execution.

- Try to get into an incubator/accelerator or community groups to avoid making lots of mistakes. It also provides easier access to finding mentors and funding in the future.

- Identify other entrepreneurs/startups around you (if you must startup in Lagos or other states) reach out to them for help and they’ll likely give you a hand.

ADVICE FOR INVESTORS

- Have realistic expectations for your investment. IPO’s are rare in this clime but small acquisitions abound.

- Ensure you conduct due diligence and you understand the risks involved in each sector you are investing in.

- Yes, it is safe to invest in Akwa Ibom.

  • Be patient, Business growth is slower than usual because of slower pace of life, general lack of market access and motivation, and non-existent Business support systems. This is unavoidable, as there is a lot of potential.

My opinion sourced from over eleven (11) years of startup experience of Tony Onuk, co-founder of The Roothub Accelerator Systems.

Entrepreneurship summit for Akwa Ibom youths @theroothub