Empowering Startups Beyond Lagos
After an impactful eight-year tenure as the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai is gearing up for a groundbreaking initiative — a $100 million venture capital fund. The primary aim? To catalyze and amplify startup investments in Nigeria, particularly outside the bustling metropolis of Lagos.
Abuja's Rise in the Startup Landscape
Bucking the trend, the fund will be headquartered in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. El-Rufai, with a personal contribution of $2 million, envisions the fund commencing operations in 2024. The former governor himself will step into the role of a part-time board chairman, flanked by seasoned individuals such as Jimi Lawal, Hafiz Bayero, Eyo Ekpo, and Kabir Yabo, all set to join as directors.
Global Outreach: Attracting International Investors
Business Day reports indicate that the fund is strategically positioned to attract international investors seeking exposure to the Nigerian startup ecosystem but lacking the time and local expertise for hands-on involvement. The fund's doors will be wide open to startups spanning various sectors, with a keen focus on founders capable of making meaningful contributions on the global stage.
Navigating Challenges: Political Network as a Catalyst
Leveraging his extensive political network cultivated over almost three decades, El-Rufai aims to be a guiding force for startups, helping them navigate regulatory challenges and securing essential capital. The former governor envisions providing not only financial support but also mentorship crucial for the journey of young and ambitious entrepreneurs.
"Young individuals require both mentoring and financial support to kickstart their ventures. They conceive their ideas and assess their viability, while we facilitate access because they may lack the necessary connections. They often lack contact with ministers, presidents, or regulatory bodies, whereas we have established connections and understand the challenges they must navigate."
A Regional Push for Development
This strategic announcement aligns with a broader regional push for development, especially in northern Nigeria. Just last month, Surrayah Ahmad and Sanusi Ismaila introduced a $20 million fund dedicated to investing in founders in the region. The goal? To bridge the investment gap, offering valuable mentorship and fundraising assistance to startups, with over half of its investments earmarked for the northern region.
Government Commitment: Kaduna State's Progressive Move
Notably, Kaduna State, under El-Rufai's leadership, has taken a significant stride by being the first Nigerian state to adopt the Nigerian Startup Act. This underscores the government's commitment to fostering the development of technology-driven enterprises, further propelling the region into the forefront of the African startup landscape.
A Positive Development for African Startups
In a landscape where funding for African startups is becoming scarcer, the introduction of region-specific funds is a positive and pivotal development. Particularly in a region often marked by unrest, these initiatives stand to benefit not only the local ecosystem but also contribute to the broader development of Nigeria and the entire African continent.