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NSIA rewards Nigerian innovators with $255,000 equity investments

The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has rewarded some Nigerian innovators with the sum of $255, 000 equity investments and other consolation prizes at the NSIA Prize for Innovation (NPI) programme.

The NPI is a multi-year initiative designed to identify innovative technological solutions developed by Nigerian tech entrepreneurs.

After a three-stage competition, the innovators were rewarded at the Prize for Innovation Programme demo day in Lagos on Saturday, where 10 finalists emerged and won varied prizes.

According to the organisers, over 2,000 entries were reviewed and after investing about six months of developing and refining their ideas, the 10 innovators emerged and pitched at the demo day.

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Seven innovators-TruQ, Capsa Technology, Apace Technology Solutions, Ya-lo Technologies, Credit-Chek, Vella Finance and Kobopay Technologies won the fourth place of $5,000 each and LegitCar Africa won the third place of $12,500.

Extension Africa won the second place of $17, 500 while Money Africa won the star prize of $25,000.

Other participants also won consolation prizes.

Although the programme with the theme: “Driving a Sustainable Future Through Innovation”, rewards winners with a sum of 255,000 US dollars, the real impact extends beyond the cash awards or event.

Its core strategy of attracting third-party capital will result in many of these innovators securing funding from financiers far and wide.

Mr Aminu Umar-Sadiq, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NSIA, said the objective of the programme is to identify, build, and finance early-stage innovative solutions that have the potential to catalyse economic growth, advance solutions to social issues, and create jobs.

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His words: ” I think the important thing is that this event actually catalyzes what we have seen as very great ideas emanating from Nigeria and entrepreneurs to solve Nigerian problems.

“I hope that this event allows us to mobilise domestic long-term capital toward Nigeria’s development,” Umar-Sadiq said.

NPI focuses on technology-enabled businesses in Financial Services, Agriculture, Health, Education, Manufacturing, Logistics and Mobility, E-commerce and Marketplaces as well as Climate.

As opposed to giving just cash prizes, the NSIA MD said that the organisation decided to split the prizes into two components, a cash component and also an equity component.

This, he said, would allow NSIA to take ownership in these businesses so that beyond just the prizes, it could actually engage with the entrepreneurs and add value to them beyond offering money.

Technology according to Umar-Sadiq represents a key sector for the growth and aspirations of NSIA given its capacity to solve real-life problems, unlock a significant amount of borderless opportunities, create jobs, and support the overall growth of an economy.

“At NSIA, our ambitions are multifaceted, and technology helps us support the growth of other key sectors and deliver healthy financial returns and the desired social outcomes,” he stated.

NSIA, the globally focused Nigerian investment institution had in December launched the $255,000 innovation prize that will benefit startups, technopreneurs, and innovators’ businesses in the form of cash and equity investments.

Speaking at the event, Mr Kashifu Abdullah, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said that the seed funding for startups would help position Nigeria for accelerated job creation in the digital economy.

“I am highly impressed with the kind of innovative ideas that I have seen today. And this shows that we have great potential and luck in Nigeria.

“And looking at what is happening with this kind of initiative to provide seed funding for startups, it will really help position Nigeria for accelerated jobs creation in the digital economy,” he said.

According to him, NITDA has started the implementation of the Nigeria startup act.

He said, “Under the act, we are to establish a startup investment seed fund.

“The act says we need a minimum of N10 billion per annum but we are targeting N100 billion so that we should be able to seed at least 1,000 early-stage startups and about 400 late-stage startups.

“This can help us to hit more than 80,000 jobs in Nigeria.”

Ms Oluwatosin Olaseinde, winner of the Star prize and Founder, Money Africa Financial Services, who was full of joy, said the challenge of managing her finances pushed her into finding solutions to financial literacy.

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“I feel really excited. It’s really nice to have put in all this work and then, here I am, the winner of this prize. I’m very grateful.

“I had a personal challenge with my money, I struggled to manage my finances, I called my friends and they had similar problems.

“Now I realised that having money is not the only thing, how do you keep that money and I noticed that it was a general problem.

“So, I embarked on that mission. Once I figured it out, I felt like an evangelist. All I did was just to teach and tell everybody about how to manage money and make the most use of what they have,” Olaseinde said.

She urged innovators to be flexible with their methods and continue to push and be focused on the goal.

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