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Communications Press Releases Series V

NCDC, LASRIC, and MTN Support Successful Startups from Ventures Platforms’ #COVID19InnovationChallenge

Seven Start-ups Receive $3,000 funding from Ventures Platform and Partners

Abuja, Nigeria. April 23rd, 2020: Following the #COVID19InnovationChallenge virtual Demo Day, held by Ventures Platform, MTN has joined Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council (LASRIC) in supporting the seven start-ups who are currently rolling out solutions and platforms to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The seven start-ups each received $3,000 equity-free grant funding from Ventures Platform and its partners – Loftyinc Allied Partners Ltd, Silverchip Fox Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, AGS Tribe, ACIOE, Lakunle Runsewe, Manasseh Egedegbe, Venture Garden Group, NESG, Sterling Bank and the Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council (LASRIC), not $1,000 that was initially announced at the call for application.

The NCDC is working with the following startups:

GLOEPID will be powering the NCDC’s official bot tool for self-assessment and contact tracing. The official mobile application will soon be available on app stores.

Wellvis Health’s COVID Triage, to support NCDC in risk assessment. With their self-administered risk assessment tool, users will be able to assess their risk level for contacting COVID-19.

INFODEMICS, a risk communications platform that helps disseminate health information in times of pandemic, will support NCDC to monitor and debunk fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic. Infodemics, in collaboration with the NCDC, is launching a web page that enables users to report fake news and get reliable information. They will also aid in disseminating information about the pandemic to local remote communities in local languages.

MTN will also be working with three of the winning startups- Wellvis Health’s COVID Triage,

GLOEPID and My Service Agent, providing funding and mentorship.

On Friday, 24th April 2020, the winning startups will also pitch their ideas to MTN staff serving as volunteer mentors and receive invaluable feedback on the required technical, business and functional skills to enhance their solutions before they are deployed in the fight to flatten the curve.

In the words of MTN Nigeria’s Chief Transformation Officer (CTRO), Olubayo Adekanmbi, “We consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to lend our expertise and capabilities to the development of impactful innovations which can make a difference in curbing the spread of infection. We must all remain dedicated to bringing hope to our communities, especially in these times. Because there is only one way through this. Working together, with everyone doing what they can.”

Commenting on the collaboration, the NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu expressed gratitude to Ventures Platform, MTN, and Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council for supporting in mobilizing innovative tech solutions to strengthen the national response to COVID-19 while stating that a whole-of-society approach is required to flatten the curve and enable gradual re-opening of the economy. “These solutions would be integrated with existing technology deployed for surveillance, contact tracing, and risk communications activities”.

In addition, Kola Aina, Ventures Platform founder, says, “We would like to especially acknowledge all our partners, especially MTN who joined VP,  LASRIC, NCDC, and many others, in supporting these solutions to tackle COVID-19 in Africa. This is the time for more work and as we say in Africa, it takes a village – I am so grateful to our village for making this happen and we continue to call on more corporates to support these startups.” 

-ENDS-

For interview requests or additional information, contact Benedite Pambani | [email protected] or Joy Mabia | [email protected]

About Ventures Platform

Ventures Platform is a catalyst for innovation & entrepreneurship across Africa. It provides smart capital through its early-stage fund, Ventures Platform Fund, it provides infrastructure and nurtures communities of entrepreneurs and innovators through Ventures Park and it builds pipeline by providing capacity and ecosystem support through its not-for-profit – Ventures Platform Foundation. More information about Ventures Platform is available at www.venturesplatform.com.

About Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council

The Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council is Lagos State’s semi-autonomous Research and Innovation promotion and funding agency. Its primary mandate is to create and promote a culture of problem-solving through Research and Innovation. LASRIC manages a percentage of Lagos States capital budget for the purposes of resourcing cutting edge research and enabling the industries of tomorrow.

About MTN

MTN Nigeria is Africa’s largest provider of communications services, connecting over 64.3million people in communities across the country with each other and the world.  Guided by a vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world, MTN Nigeria’s leadership position in coverage, capacity, and innovation has remained constant, since its launch in 2001. MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group – a leading emerging market operator, connecting more than 200 million subscribers in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

About Nigeria Centre for Disease Control 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control [NCDC] is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. The mission for the NCDC is ‘To protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response activities, using a one health approach, guided by research and led by a skilled workforce’.

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Series V VP Blog

2020: The Year The World Went Remote

Working remotely? Here are some practical tips for managing your team.

“The option to work from home when needed, or to try a different lifestyle without having to change jobs, is a win for everyone.”

Scott Berkun, former remote team leader at WordPress, author of the “The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work” book

As the world and everything in it responds to the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon us, many companies have had to switch to working remotely. Unfortunately, while remote work isn’t a new concept, in Africa companies largely still prefer onsite presence, so switching to 100% remote brings about a culture shock and massive loss in productivity if not properly managed. In this writeup, we share our experience and how we are implementing 100% remote work at VP.

Ventures Platform has always experimented with remote work, so this didn’t come as a complete shock to us, before now team members could take a day or two each week to work remotely. However, we have never done 100% remote for all team members, so this in itself is a new experience for us. We have never also had our Park – the Ventures Park shut (we are usually open 24 hours). 

In Africa, there are 4 major challenges to Remote Work

  1. Irregular Power Supply 
  2. Subpar Internet Connectivity 
  3. Distractions at Home
  4. Lack of face to face engagement and supervisión 

In this article, we will be sharing a few tips for managing your remote team – and this will hopefully help even if you are doing this for the first time.

Provide your team tools and resources they need to work efficiently during this period

Well, we are not quite sure of how long this remote working will last for, and so it is important to provide all the tools your team members will need while working efficiently from home. The basics include a power bank, a fuel allowance or a small solar system that can power their laptops, internet subscription and maybe a subscription to a project management software.

Find ways to relieve your team of the burden they are sure to experience (either anticipated or requested) by working remotely. 

Set a cadence of engagement 

Communication is, in fact, the most important component of a successful remote working plan. There has to be a routine around how you check-in with your team. It should be structured and in fact, calendared. While this can be for the entire team you lead, you should also establish one on one and predictable calls with your team members. Remote working is much more efficient and satisfying when you set the expectations for frequency, timing, and communication with your team. Our cadence at VP has three components;

  • Weekly scrum – This is done every Monday, on Google Hangout/Zoom. These check-in meetings are for the entire team and direct reports, to ensure that everyone is in sync.
  • Slack-up – We do this every day and on Slack. It is to establish what was done yesterday, identify and solve for blockers, and state what will be done today.
  • End of week review – These are typically done at the end of the week. This meeting is for a recap, and sometimes to set the expectation for the following week. 
  • Track Performance – We use Trello for this, we have structured our Trello boards to have –  Tasks, In-progress, Reviewed and Completed, so team members move each deliverable across the various categories. Have clear expectations for what needs to be achieved each week 

Design opportunities for some social interactions

Loneliness is one of the most common complaints we get during remote work. As a matter of fact, we realized that the extroverted team members suffer this the most (I am ambivert so I suffered too). If you do not provide opportunities for your team members to connect with one another in their remote work environment, then they will suffer from social isolation. In the long run, this can affect productivity.

To curtail this, you can design ways for your team members to interact socially. It is fine to have informal conversations around non-work topics –  we have this either way when we are at work physically, so this should not be a problem. You can leave some time for this during your check-in calls and just catch up on each other. To take this a little further, you can have dance parties online (video conferencing), work out sessions, rap sessions, knowledge sharing sessions, and a host of other activities. 

Lastly remember, that great companies are forged in hardship, so don’t give in to despair, offer encouragement and support to your team members and also spend some time off the news doing things that make you relaxed and happy.

That’s all folks! Now, let’s dive into the other parts of Series V.
Portfolio Chatter
Exciting news! Fast Company has listed two VP portfolio companies PiggyVest and Tizeti as part of the most innovative companies in Africa! For more information click here.

Congratulations to VP portfolio companies, CrowdForce and Send for graduating from Y Combinator 2020 winter program!

VP Founding Partner, Kola Aina, will be a guest on a tweet chat with the OIIE team to discuss the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge on the 6th of April 2020 at 11:00 am.

As the world is going through the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been doing their bits to provide aid to the general public, GeroCare has taken it upon themselves to provide face masks and hand sanitizers for the elderly. We all need to play our part to #StaySafe. If you know anyone in need of this, kindly click here. They have also built a self-screening tool for #COVID-19 from the good people at GeoCare. To get a self-test online, visit here.

The guys at Trove have written an article about Coronavirus stock market selloff. Read here.

Learn how you can leverage on #ThankUCash Data to keep your customers safe from COVID-19. Read here.

VP portfolio company, ThankUCash (Connected Analytics) has graduated 500 Startups as the only African startup in its 26th batch.

Founders of PiggyVest, Odun Eweniyi, Somto Ifezue, and Josh Chibeze have been included on this year’s Lord’s Achievers Honorees 2020 list!

Read how Kudi Agents can stay safe during this Coronavirus period here.
Inside VP
Ventures Platform is happy to announce the seven teams that emerged winners of the #COVID19InnovationChallenge! These products have since started building and will Demo tomorrow for possible off-takers. If you’d like to watch, please send a DM to @vplatformhub for possible selection. We have been able to do this with the backing of the partners at NCDC, Lagos State Government, Nigeria’s Governor’s Forum and all our mentors, coaches, volunteers, and the entire VP team.

The Executive Director of Ventures Platform Foundation, Mimshach Obioha, facilitated a virtual session at the AfriLab Hub’s Learning Week #2020AfHLW. To get more information, visit here.

Hey Folks! We are currently working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is still business as usual. You can always reach us via our social media handles or email address. We would love to know the impact of remote working on you as well as the challenges being faced.
What are we reading?
What you do is who you are by Ben Horowitz
Are you building a market-creating innovation? We would like to know more.
Apply Here
See you next month and stay safe,

V.