Why you should be Building for NG

A week ago I helped organise the 6th edition of BTNG’s event, an event focused on building things for Nigeria. It was a bit ironic because on this 6th event I made a presentation, making the case for why diasporans should be building things for Nigeria. If you don’t already know BTNG then there couldn’t be a better time to get acquainted.

Get to know more about us

Left-to-Right - Standing: Ade Olabode, Abiola, ADT, Sitting: Ozo(me), Ms kanke, and Uche. This is the team behind BTNG and our vision is: To be the first point-of-call for people who desire to innovate for Nigeria, and although our vision covers innovation in Nigeria we still have a keen interest in accelerating innovation for the African Tech Space.

Typically our interests are:

  • Attracting innovators looking to do amazing things in the Nigerian space
  • Assisting creators looking for testers or first users of their products
  • Building communities for developers, designers, product managers, and the likes
  • Bringing African Tech enthusiasts together to share ideas
  • Helping people gain entry into the Nigerian innovative space for active participation
  • Helping to provide practical information and resources to African startups in the diaspora

With this background and an understanding of who we are, I will highlight excerpts from my presentation, explaining why you should be building things for Nigeria.

Slide from actual presentation highlight market size and interest from investors
  1. Nigeria’s Market: Nigeria’s population is over 180M+, depending on who you ask, and we have a massive number of Internet users (a decent analysis from Benjamin Dada), currently over 90 million; well above every country in Europe except Russia. These numbers are expected to grow even further, presenting a huge market potential for those looking to introduce innovative Internet products and services.
  2. Problems or Challenges: ‘There are too many problems in Nigeria’ is the kind of rhetoric one continues to hear, but is a problem an opportunity in itself? For those in the diaspora take a look around you, the power, transport, logistics, news, entertainment, agriculture, dating, betting, e-commerce sectors, amongst others arguably work! Innovation still occurs in these sectors but there are a number of tech businesses meeting the thirsty demands of Internet users. How many of these sectors are really conquered in Nigeria? Are these problems/challenges not real opportunities waiting to be harnessed?
  3. Technology Skill Gap & Demand: There is a growing interest in technology and a hunt for talented people. I dare say there are more tech jobs in Nigeria than the skilled talent necessary to fill them. I am not trying to reopen the uproar which happened recently at We Code as a result of this blog post; my main highlight is that when there is increased demand for technically skilled people, it only goes to show that there is increased interest to build solutions that take advantage of the opportunities.
  4. Business Knowledge Gap & Opportunities: It’s not only technical knowledge that is lacking, there is also a need for more people with business knowledge. To grow proper businesses and to guide startups in Nigeria, there is a real opportunity for business-inclined diasporans to get involved. For Business Analysts in diaspora who have spent time hopping from one business domain to the next, there is a real potential for their experiences to be used to support startups in Nigeria, and that can be an entry point for those keen to key into the opportunity.
  5. Investor Interest: Investor Interest is a big one. It changes the game, especially considering that banks in Nigeria are pretty much sitting ducks (Yes I said it). The interest by foreign VCs and individual investors is growing. Many people might not be aware but there are over 100 big enough VCs and Investors that are interested in the Nigerian space. In fact, the rate of investment in Nigeria and Africa as a whole has been on the rise. I have access to a pool of these investors, their areas of interest, their financial investment brackets, contact details, startups they have invested in, amongst others. If you are interested in such data I’m happy to share, just email me { hi @ ozo dot ng }. To get an even clearer picture of the direction of investment in startups in Africa please take a look at the chart below:
Nigeria taking the lead in Startup Funding in Africa in 2016 with hundreds of millions of dollars in investment

These numbers look decently attractive, especially considering that Nigeria is beginning to get more deserved attention. But how well do these numbers stack up with the rest of the world? Are we meeting our startup funding potentials, and is there the opportunity for further growth in investments? The chart below helps to showcase what the current situation is and what the potentials hold. It helps to give an idea of what we can look forward to given the opportunities that have been discussed.

Funding comparison between Nigeria, some African countries and the US and some European countries

There is no question that there is growing interest in Nigerian startups and individuals and companies in diaspora are becoming more keen to participate. The specific steps one can take to get involved are probably worthy of another post and I will be looking into that. However, here are some quick wins you can take away:

  1. Put on your thinking cap: Yes, you are in diaspora and are probably busy with something else, but that does not mean you cant spend time to think. Thinking also involves researching. Pay attention to the Nigerian and African space. What are the sectors that hold the potentials for disruption? What sectors do you have intrisinc knowledge in? What sectors do you have experience in? What sectors are you passionate about? Spend time to think, research and draft your ideas.
  2. Share: Ideas have no value if you keep them all to yourself? Develop them, share ideas with other people, essentially network for the greater good. You will need people to help you along the way. Network with people also focused on building things for Nigeria. A good way to do this is to attend events — the next BTNG event is around the corner — and build your network. You can also join Nigerian specific startup networks so you familiarise yourself with what is going on in the space. Don’t take this for granted as it is very key to the success of whatever you may be building.
  3. Invest: I don’t advice you invest blindly, but take a more active role in looking for opportunity areas. There are many startups in Nigeria that can make a mark but are limited by basic seed funds. Explore these opportunities as they could be really rewarding if gotten right. Don’t make hasty decisions, rather spend time discussing, researching and following up with startups in sectors you are interested in. You might not have the time to be directly involved, but you could gain early equity in startups that need the pounds, and that could be your entry point into the space.
Slide from presentation: What can you be doing right

There are many ways to understand the opportunities and there are many ways to get involved. The presentation at BTNG probably had more details and presented more research findings. To see the specific highlights of the presentation you can take a look at the slides here. Please feel to leave feedback and don’t forget to be on the watch out for the next BTNG event in October.