The Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Kayode Pitan, has said that the emergence of Start-ups in business has come with creative solutions to some of everyday problems faced by Nigerians.
Speaking at the first edition of the community engagement development workshop organised by the Arthur Mbanefo Digital Research Centre (AMDRC) of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), he noted that Start-ups and many others are leading the charge in shifting the country’s economic narrative into a more positive trajectory and are therefore worth supporting.
Describing Start-ups as the new rockstars of the entrepreneurship world, he said it is imperative that any economy that wants to thrive in the 21st century must support and have a thriving start-up ecosystem.
He said, “Their success and impact, in spite of the challenges they face, has further bolstered arguments made about the importance and roles of entrepreneurship and innovation in the economic future of Nigeria.
“It is commonly acknowledged that innovation is a key trigger for any economy that hopes to be competitive and achieve sustainable progress. Economies that desire to become innovative must also foster a culture of entrepreneurship, as there cannot be innovation without entrepreneurship.
“Unlike traditional enterprises, these high-growth enterprises or Start-ups face enormous uncertainty as they seek to create their own business models that can be scalable, but by continuously experimenting, learning, and innovating, start-ups differentiate themselves from other traditional enterprises and became leaders in their respective markets.
“By continuously seeking to create scalable business models, start-ups are able to scale up faster, create more jobs, contribute more to economic output, and drive more competition than traditional enterprises.
In response to the need to support Start-ups, he said the Bank of Industry offers funding opportunities for them leverage capital through the Alitheia IDF in which the bank is a key investor.
He explained that the Alitheia IDF fund is managed by Alitheia Capital and targets supporting innovative start-ups that are founded and managed by women. There is also the BOI NTec Fund, targeted at innovative start-ups in Nigeria, which is currently being managed by Verod Capital.
He said, in addition to these funds, BOI has an ongoing programme to establish technology incubators across the country, 7 of which are currently in operation across various states with 2 of them operating at the University of Lagos. “These incubators provide promising start-ups with an environment that allows them to generate and test their ideas, have access to resources (such as training and mentorship), and grow without any pressure,” he said.
“Apart from our foray in supporting start-ups, we also offer other forms of support to various types of enterprises. We have the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) and Youth Enterprise Support (YES) Programmes that allow us to provide both business advisory and financial support to youth across the country.
“We also have an Agriculture-Value Chain Finance (AVCF) programme that targets farmer by providing them with access to finance, inputs, and markets. In addition to these, we also have our Distributor and Supplier Programme that allows us to support local manufacturers of consumable items that are stocked in supermarkets.
Through these programmes and other direct and indirect lending programmes, he said, the bank has over the last 5 years, provided support in excess of ₦1 trillion to over 327,000 micro, small, medium and large enterprises across the country.
The CEO of the oldest and the largest Development Finance Institution in the country, commended the Centre on its efforts “to forge a synergy in the area of knowledge sharing between the academic community and industry”
In her welcome remark, the director of the Centre, Taiwo Ipaye, said the programme was introduced to bring both the town and gown together to address the needs of the labour market and provide the required skills for the tertiary institutions’ products. Mrs Ipaye, a former registrar of the university, said the centre is committed to creating a middle ground between the town and the gown for the socio-economic prosperity of the country.