The Federal Government has pledged to provide an enabling environment for innovators and startups,in order to encourage Nigerians globally to come begin their businesses at home.
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami disclosed this during a meeting he had with the two startups – RiceAfrika Technologies and Wicrypt – who won the $150,000 each at the LEAP’s Rocket Fuel Pitch Competition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 2023.
Pantami hailed the scenario which saw Nigeria produce 2 of the 6 winners at the just concluded LEAP’s competition.
“I am very proud of all of you and Nigeria. It is, indeed, commendable that we have won as a country. We won 33.3 per cent of all the global [points] out of the 6 [winners] Nigeria got 2. It is, indeed, highly commendable and I am very proud.
“We are here to encourage you because your efforts promote the image of Nigeria globally.
“There were over 10,000 applicants, they shortlisted about 220.Of these 220, 8 startups from Nigeria were selected and the Digital Corporation Organisation (DCO) founded everything.
“[In the semi-final] 90 were selected to participate. All 8 startups from Nigeria were among the 90; 12 were confirmed to moved to the final stage and, of the 12, 3 were from Nigeria and 2 were confirmed as global winners out of the 6,” he stressed.
Speaking further, Abdullahi said that the winners had opportunities to network with investors and other startups from the global ecosystem.
While thanking the minister for selecting their company, the CEO of Wicrypt (one of the winners), Aroun Ugochukwu said: “It is an honour to represent our country and it is an opportunity to showcase our model on a global stage.
“The award is a validation of what we are doing. The business model and what we are doing is exportable globally”.
He emphasised that the digital economy has made younger people spend less on data, as well as giving people the opportunity to create revenue and, reluctantly, save cost.
In his word of encouragement to younger startups, he said: “Impossible does not exist and that is just a message to the rest of the world”.
In his speech, the CEO of RiceAfrika Technologies, Ibrahim Maigan said: “I want to congratulate everybody that participated. It will encourage other entrepreneurs to build and do things that are really remarkable, knowing that where they are now is not where they will be forever.
“The country is actually giving [you] the opportunity to present and show yourself on the global stage.”
Maigan disclosed that RiceAfrika was established 2 to 3 years ago and has been able to develop easy platform as an opportunity for smallholder farms.