The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has said the NITDA-MassChallenge Partnership Initiative is designed to identify and accelerate top startups based in Nigeria and grow their businesses to serve the Nigerian and global market.
In his speech at a virtual media stakeholder engagement on the ‘Bridge to MassChallenge Initiative,’ today (May 18, 2021) in Abuja, he explained that MassChallenge is well known as a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators.
“The partnership focuses on achieving three main objectives: Firstly, to promote Nigeria as an emerging entrepreneurial hub and leader of innovation in Africa in order to support job creation and economic development. And also to foster the growth and success of Nigeria’s startup enterprises by connecting our entrepreneurs with markets, networks, and capital in the global innovation ecosystem, while at the same time, facilitating key strategies to complement growing innovation initiatives within Nigeria,” he said.
Abdullahi underscored the importance of forming alliances and partnerships, pointing out that the nation could not exist in silos, hence the move to reach out to the media who have been identified among the six categories of stakeholders that would be fully involved in this initiative.
“Others include critical government agencies, academia, business entities, angel investors and venture capitals and entrepreneurs. Among all, you have the most critical role to play. Our startups are targeting the global market. Nigeria is a leader in the digital skills and startup ecosystem in Africa.
“The investments attracted by our startups confirm the position. Recently, Flutterwave announced new funding of $170m, and Stripe acquired Paystack for more than $200m. Other Nigerian technology companies like Interswitch have raised funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This shows that you are already doing your work in projecting Nigeria as a leader in Africa.
“I must admit that we are fortunate to have an excellent relationship with you. We are excited by the interest you have already shown in this initiative. We received confirmation from around 80 of you to join us today, this is unprecedented, and we are most appreciative,” he added.
In her remarks, the chief executive officer of MassChallenge, Siobhan Dullea, said the organisation had played a vital role in strengthening local and global innovation economies, adding it had helped entrepreneurs from more than 54 countries solve some of the world’s massive problems.
“MassChallenge is proud to partner NITDA to foster cross-sector innovation and cooperation across all industries in Nigeria. Bridge to MassChallenge Nigeria will help grow the highest-impact, highest-potential startups across Nigeria, while connecting them to MassChallenge’s global network.
“We have supported many high-quality Nigerian startups through our global programs and we’re extremely excited to start our work with NITDA to support even more,” she stated.
According to her, MassChallenge is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship through collaboration and development.
Dullea said the organization had more than a decade of experience accelerating startups, industry, and innovation ecosystems, and had been working across sectors to drive a stronger future through collaborative innovation.
“MassChallenge’s mission and model is designed to drive increased connectivity and density across all key innovation stakeholders: government (federal, state, and municipal), corporations, academia, media, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs. Connectivity and density attract and support startups who seek access to resources (talent, expertise, capital, customers) in order to learn and grow quickly. Connectivity and density also benefit industry who also need to be proximate to the teams and technologies that will drive future innovation,” she added.