By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Strength Africa, an indigenous company, says it is set to hold a ‘Start Up Summit’ that would seek to refocus the entrepreneurship drive of Nigerians and for policy makers to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive.
The summit, which brings together over 40 renowned entrepreneurs with demonstrable track record spanning 20 to 30 years as panelists, would seek to educate, expose, share experiences and proffer solutions to creating the right environment for entrepreneurship in the country.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, Taiwo Adepoju, Managing Partner and CEO of Strength Africa, organisers of the summit, said that Nigeria currently lacked the right environment for startups to flourish.
According to him, the environment does not encourage people to start up due to fear of failure, pointing out that in other climes, where the environment were more friendly, startups sprang up faster.
Adepoju said that the summit will be virtual and free, as attendees from Nigeria and across Africa seek to address all impediments to economic development via entrepreneurship.
“This is a free event as our own contribution from Strengths Africa towards kick starting or accelerating development of the entrepreneurial system in Nigeria.
“The theme of this maiden summit is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem. A system that is built to sustain any venture or any individual.
“Man is in an ecosystem and being in that system there is green vegetation, there is sunlight, there is the enabling environment and that is the kind of thing we want to create for the entrepreneurial space”, he said.
Adepoju added: “We realised that entrepreneurship is the key driver for any sustainable growth within any economy and in other climes, the startup per capita is densely populated.
“Over the last two months, we have had series of pre-launches to drive home the need for people to come to the realization that entrepreneurship is key.”
The Strength Africa CEO said that the summit will focus on providing education, exposure and experience, which he identified as key drivers to attaining success at any level.
He encouraged Nigerian entrepreneurs not to be discouraged from venturing for fear of failing, stressing that failure is actually a step forward, even though there was no comfortable environment in Nigeria to encourage such venturing, adding that those are some of the issues the summit hopes to address.
“Environment also dictates how organisations thrive and we believe that in Africa, particularly Nigeria, we do not have that enabling environment, we talk about infrastructure but there are other components that help a start up to succeed.
“The focus for us is primarily driven around three components: Small and Medium enterprises, which is the first cluster, Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) like Uber and Paystack, and also social enterprises,” he said.
The convener pointed out that finance was not the main solution to entrepreneurship problems, stressing that without the right information and data, startups will continue to fail.
On that note, he added, the academia has a crucial role to play in the area of research and practical-based training for young Nigerians.
“Money does not really solve problems but knowhow does. Beyond finance, it will surprise you that the academia plays a critical role in the economic development of our nation.
“Imagine we had schools that beyond theory, were getting them schooled in practical entrepreneurship and doing research and capturing success and failure rates.
“We do not have the data that supports you or have information as to what can work in Nigeria, so if somebody has an idea, and doesn’t have any additional information on people that have ventured, he is likely going to do the same thing”, he said.
He added: “I can tell you that many entrepreneurs start off without interfacing with the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), where there is an immense record of available data.
“If only they could tap into it, this would have improved their businesses and maybe averted failure.”
Adepoju also said that Strength Africa also planned to provide office solutions where people can actually incubate their businesses. (NAN)