The need to increase its investment in the country and encourage entrepreneurship in Nigeria has driven global brand, Facebook, to launch a new nationwide initiative.
The initiative, ‘NG_HUB from Facebook’, which will further cement its commitment and investment in the country, and across the continent incorporates a series of high profile partnerships, training programmes and a physical space that will serve as a center for learning and skills development. This set of initiatives is aimed at helping to develop and nurture communities, including small businesses, the tech and start-up ecosystem, youths and innovators.
“In Nigeria, more than 22 million people use Facebook every month and 87 percent of SMEs say that when they hire, digital skills are more important than where an applicant possess college education. This demonstrates that the power of digital skills to aid economic growth and development has never been more important”, says Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa, Ebele Okobi while explaining the rationale behind the launch of the new initiative. “At Facebook, our mission is clear: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Our investments and commitments announced in Lagos further reflect our intent to partner with Nigeria’s policy makers and its vibrant tech and entrepreneurial eco-system to create economic opportunity and independence in Nigeria and across Africa.’’
According to Uge Ikemba, representative of the Minister of Trade, Investment and Industry, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, the federal government is willing and ready to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) grow.
He said the Ministry had a target to support 4000 young entrepreneurs in four years and over the past three years had done 2600 and targets the next 1400 entrepreneurs for the next one year.
In partnership with CC Hub, Facebook will be opening the doors to its first community Hub space in the heart of Lagos, scheduled to open early next year. The ‘NG_HUB from Facebook’ initiative will be a multi-faceted creative space, which will connect and bring together developers, start-ups and the wider community to collaborate, learn and exchange ideas. The NG_HUB will also host a start-up incubator programme, as well as tailored trainings, guest speakers and a dedicated event space, all aimed at attracting the best talent and driving innovation in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem.
Additionally, across Nigeria, Facebook will be supporting a number of existing tech Hubs to serve the communities outside Lagos. The hubs will function as learning centres for local communities, providing multiple opportunities for training and access.
Commenting on the announcement of NG_HUB in partnership with CC Hub, and Facebook’s further support of local hubs across Nigeria, Head of Platform Partnerships, Middle East & Africa, Emeka Afigbo said: “Nigeria is producing a new generation of exciting start-ups that have incredible potential. We understand the important role Facebook plays here in Nigeria with developers and start-ups and are invested in helping these communities build for the next billion. One of our key passions at Facebook is nurturing and helping to develop the tech and start-up community, and I’m excited to announce our partnership with the Nigerian tech hub ecosystem especially the NG_HUB space, here in Lagos.”
He noted that there are opportunities in Nigeria and that Facebook wants to invest in those opportunities. He further said that Facebook intends to train over 50, 000 people in Nigeria senior secondary schools.
Afigbo also stated Facebook’s target for incubators: “What we aim to do at the incubator is to provide support for high tech startups that do not ordinarily get investments, until they can develop a proof of concept, which will attract other investors.”
Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria and Kenya for the first time last year. While in Nigeria, he visited the Co-Creation (CCHub) and met with developers and entrepreneurs and spent time learning about the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.
During that visit, Zuckerberg announced an investment of $24 million through his Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in Andela, a tech startup that trains software developers in Africa and gives them full-time roles in international companies.
Zuckerberg’s visit gave Nigerian startups much-needed boost and spurred more entrepreneurs into the system.
According to Facebook, in Nigeria alone, there are 22 million monthly Facebook users; 10 million of them log in daily to the platform, all on mobile devices.
Afigbo had noted that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, was an important market for Facebook. “Everybody knows about the country’s entrepreneurial drive,” he affirmed. “Its creativity, large population, and that a lot of this population is young people, more important is that we think the investment in Nigeria will spread and have impact across the continent,” he added.
Also speaking at the announcement of the NG_HUB initiative, Co-Founder and Director of Open Living Lab, Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), Femi Longe observed that unlocking potentials from schools should address a lot of the challenges that border on adaptation to new technologies.
Executive Director, Fate Foundation, Adenike Adeyemi opined that cost-friendly, flexible, adaptable and easy-to-use tools are needed to ensure that start-ups in Nigeria are globally competitive.
In her contribution, Co-Founder, She Leads Africa (SLA), facilitators of Accelerator and entrepreneurship programmes for women, Efua Osei noted that demystifying technology tools for startups will go a long way in encouraging them to use these tools for creative purposes.
The Facebook team assured that the firm is committed to working with Nigerian small businesses, tech entrepreneurs and the next generation of leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools for economic growth.
According to Facebook’s Public Policy Director for Africa, Ebele Okobi, some of the training programmes that will run through the initiative include:
- Aspiring Entrepreneurs, a four-week digital intensive programme for entrepreneurs across Nigeria in partnership with the Fate Foundation. This will be offered throughout the year in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu
- Coding for Employment – a training programme to develop Nigeria’s next generation of coders, designed to upskill developers and prepare them for employment
- Boost your Business – designed for small, medium sized businesses owners, teaching the fundamentals of digital marketing for business growth, with the goal to help business owners better understand their brand, audience and how to best reach and service them online
- Creative Entrepreneurship Training, which is a specialised training designed specifically for creatives, including photographers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, bloggers and other creative content creators; and
- Online Safety + Digital Literacy Training in Schools and Universities, featuring a series of online safety and digital literacy courses for secondary school and university students.