By Ijeoma Olorunfemi
Abuja,Sept. 6, 2022 The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), had supported three Nigerian startups with the sum of $15,000 each to develop their innovative ideas towards becoming entrepreneurs and achieving the digital economy agenda.
The seed fund was given on Tuesday at the Demonstration Day of the first Cohort of the Idea Hatching (iHatch) Startup Incubation Programme.
It wasorganised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in collaboration with JICA in Abuja.
The iHatch programme was championed by Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI),a subsidiary of NITDA.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in March 2022, the first cohort, a five-month programme began with over 5,000 applications that were received, while eight were selected to pitch their ideas.
The winner of the demonstration was Betalife, a health tech startup company that offers 24/7 real-time blood donation tracking and blood requests.
The second position was won by Xolani Health Limited,an Artificial Intelligence-assisted tool that support clinical decision making for healthcare workers in low resource settings.
The third place winner was Every Farmer,a solution that focuses on accessing funds for agricultural value chain.
Ms Favour James, Founder, Betalife, who was happy said the seed fund would be channeled to marketing and creating awareness for solutions.
“We are going to utilise the money in engaging more professionals and in our marketing strategy, because blood donation is not a popular thing in Nigeria.
“We will also invest in building collaboration between hospitals and blood banks,”James said.
Mr Susumu Yuzurio,Chief Representative,JICA Nigeria, congratulated the startups, while acknowledging that all of them were winners in their respective manners.
Yuzurio encouraged them to sustain the knowledge they had acquired towards building a digital economy for the nation.
Mr Kashifu Inuwa,Director-General of NITDA,at the demonstration by the startups,said that the programme was targeted at refining business ideas of the innovators and developing the digital economy agenda.
“This partnership is in furtherance to the commitment of NITDA in sustaining the promotion and growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship, promotion of indigenous content derived from of the seven pillars of our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024.
“This is to increase the number of Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs) viz- a- viz sustaining the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.
“The partnership with JICA in the implementation of the iHatch programme is part of our initiatives to strengthen the tech and innovation ecosystem.
”This is for the creation of more IDEs that will invariably contribute to creation of jobs for our teeming youth and the prosperity of our country,” Inuwa said.
He added that programme took the startups through a series of coaching, lectures, and boot-camps to generate scalable and adaptable business models in the country.
Onuwa recalled the selection process assessed the startups’ ideas based on the criteria of profitability, scalability, social impact, idea technique, competitive advantage, experience, and a clearly defined future roadmap.
The DG said that the agency and JICA would be extending the third cohort across the six geo-political zones of the country by the end of the second Cohort that would also span to five months.
He said: “NITDA remains committed to working with relevant stakeholders and partners in implementing programmes and initiatives that will accelerate innovation.
”They will provide the much-needed jobs for our youths, while also nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit to catalyse the Nigerian digital economy to the next level.”
Mr Nao Fuwa, JICA expert, urged the startups to think of why they studied business and why they considered opening a business.
“Brushing up a business model is important, but brushing your passion will attract people to your business,” he said.
The other startups include eDokta, a Telehomecare solution for virtual consultation and home healthcare services,S-Med, a solution that enable patients access their medical records.
They also include Authentic Qrtech, a solution for authentication of fake products,adulteration and counterfeit goods.
Other startups that demonstrated their ideas were Tech and Identity Solution Lab,an automation identity for background check platform and Afrinet Powertech,a cleantech solution that enhances energy efficiency for affordable electricity access.
The Demo Day was the end of the first cohort that was launched in March and lasted for five months and it also held concurrently with the launch of the second cohort.