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Press Releases Series V VP Blog

Investor Consortium to Provide Grants To Nigerian Impact Startups During COVID-19 Pandemic – Calls for more Donors to Contribute to the Facility

Abuja, Nigeria, *24th August 2020* Ventures Platform (VP), and Acumen, with support from LoftyInc, have launched the Nigeria Impact Startup Relief Facility (NISRF) – designed to support impact-oriented startups so they remain viable and resilient through the COVID-19 crisis. 

In order to meet the demands of the crisis, and the financial gaps faced by promising startups, the Nigeria Impact Startup Relief Facility (NISRF) will support impact-oriented startups that are at the post-MVP stage, are high-growth, and can demonstrate the scale of impact, amongst other criteria as outlined on the website

The NISRF program kicks off activities with calls for applications on the 24th of August, 2020, to 7th September 2020, and will support applicants whose businesses are either being adversely affected or modified in response to COVID-19 with grants between $5,000 – $20,000. Entrepreneurs have consistently cited bridge financing as their most urgent need during the pandemic. 

According to the “Impact Investors’ Foundation: Nigeria and Ghana Impact Investing and Policy Landscape”, prior to COVID-19, impact investors cited a lack of investable opportunities as a challenge to deploying capital in Nigeria. Now, the ecosystem is faced with a challenge of unprecedented dimensions emphasizing the need for financial investment. 

While the pandemic has had a negative economic effect on startups: a lot of businesses are struggling while some are on the verge of folding up,  the crisis has also scaled the process of digital transformation across sectors and created more opportunities for growth and investment. 

It is in our collective interest to ensure that the most promising startups among us – especially those tackling urgent social problems – are able to sustain and scale. With this aspiration to protect today’s startups and tomorrow’s pipeline, the collaborating investors invite other investors, ecosystem players, development partners, and government institutions to join the Nigeria Impact Startup Relief Facility (NISRF).

Speaking on the partnership with Ventures Platform and the implementation of the NISRF, Meghan Curran, West Africa Director, Acumen said, “COVID-19 has reminded us of our interconnected fate, and has reinforced the importance of building more just and equitable societies. Acumen has long been focused on investing in businesses that share this aspiration and use the power of markets as a tool for tackling urgent social problems.

Acumen is a global nonprofit changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing patient capital in social enterprises and building a community of leaders committed to building a more just and sustainable world. Through the NISRF, we’re excited to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t impede the progress of these companies in building new models for our post-COVID reality.” 

“At Ventures Platform, we are always seeking to forge strategic partnerships like this as we continue to provide support to entrepreneurs who are the bedrock of the economy,” said Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform. “Through this partnership, our expected outcome is that funded startups remain resilient through the COVID-19 crisis and are better able to take advantage of the increased opportunity for digital adoption, while we  inspire a culture of triple-bottom-line and active philanthropy in our ecosystem.”

Ventures Platform (VP) is an organization building inclusive and sustainable economic prosperity in Africa by catalyzing entrepreneurship and innovation.

In his remarks, the Managing Partner at LoftyInc, Wole Odetayo, said “The challenges we’re living with in Nigeria can be daunting but surmountable. The future of the solutions to these resilient challenges lie with innovators. What the NISRF is poised to do in Nigeria’s innovation ecosystem is crucially fundamental to our collective success as a nation; the creation of sustainable, innovative SMEs as the pathway to accelerated and sustainable economic growth.” 

LoftyInc is an Innovation development company with vast experience in Business and Project development. They have developed startup teams, managed innovation programs, and facilitated impact projects across sub-Saharan Africa.

Through the NISRF program, Founding Partners – Ventures Platform and Acumen, will work to ensure the selected startups receive the required funding to grow and also create social impact in terms of the number of opportunities created. The primary aim of this program is to support high growth, impact-oriented startups to thrive in the midst of an uncertain economy. To do this effectively, there is a need for more donors to invest in the Facility. 

To learn more about the program, please visit nisrf.venturesplatform.com and follow Ventures Platform on Twitter, Instagram – @vplatformhub, and Facebook, LinkedIn – Ventures Platform Hub to keep up with the program and learn any new information as soon as it comes up.

-ENDS-

For interview requests or additional information, contact Joy Mabia | [email protected] | 08097973797

About Ventures Platform Hub

Ventures Platform Hub 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 Acumen in West Africa

Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses that impact low-income and vulnerable populations either by providing access to affordable goods and services or by creating meaningful livelihood opportunities. Active in West Africa since 2012, Acumen has invested more than $10 million across Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills, and determination to create a more inclusive world through the West Africa Fellows program. www.acumen.org.

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Press Releases Series V VP Blog

Iterate, Don’t Break

Hello there. Happy New Month! This month on Series V, we write about changes and speed in the growth stages in a startup. Please forward it to a friend and share it on your social media by clicking any of the buttons below. We love to get feedback and suggestions, you can send them here.


Precision beats power, timing beats speed.

Anonymous

Move fast and break things” is a famous Mark Zuckerberg quote that has been adopted into Silicon Valley lore. When we couple this with one of Amazon’s 14 leadership principles “speed matters”, along with a plethora of various principles that revolve around the same idea, it becomes pretty clear that the startup ecosystem puts emphasis that startups have to move at a breakneck speed.                                                                                                        

However, although it is incredibly important for your startup to move fast, you should try to avoid breaking things. 

Building a business is a race, occasionally a sprint, occasionally a marathon. If you find yourself in a marathon and you treat it as a sprint you’re going to run out of stamina very early on and not finish the race at all. 

So, we can see you need to move as fast as possible, but you also need to contextualize how far you need to go and how long you need to get there. So, how does a startup tell whether they’re competing in a 100-meter sprint a 10,000-meter marathon or even an Ironman triathlon?Naturally, the idea is to move as fast as possible, but if the childhood tale of the Tortoise and the Hare has taught us anything, it’s that just being faster may not necessarily get you to the finish line first. Because if you move too fast you’ll run into obstacles, sometimes these obstacles are of your own making.

Now, how do you decide what pace you need to move at, to make sure you avoid obstacles but still get to your targets as quickly as possible? The biggest thing you need to focus on, in this case, is your product and how sensitively it impacts your users. 
Take, for example, financial services. This is an industry that requires a keen sensitivity to privacy and confidentiality, as both are extremely important to building trust with users.
If you move too fast you can break that trust, and having to rebuild that trust with your users is a huge obstacle. We can see this reflected in other fields that may even have mortal impacts if they move too fast, from healthcare startups to car manufacturers, etc.
Whereas in the case of a social networking application – the likes of Twitter and the rest, making changes may not have such a substantial impact on their users as other services would; which gives them leeway to move at a much higher speed.
However, sometimes, it’s difficult to see the impact your company has so one cannot take an early industry rule and continue to apply it as the industry grows. As your company grows so will its impact, and you must recognize this and adjust your pace accordingly. 
Overall startups need to recognize the impact of their industry and their size. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in an industry that allows you to move at breakneck speeds, but as your company grows in that industry you’ll find that you’ll probably have to reduce your pace more so than smaller competitors may have to, as your actions have a greater impact. 
It’s also crucial to apply these same principles within the startup, how fast does each team need to move? What team’s decisions are going to have the greatest impact on the organization? Setting the correct pace for the organization and the teams within is extremely important. 
Ultimately, it is key to move fast as this is still a competitive landscape, but the speed you iterate at should be relative to the industry and your scale, so as to not break things and find yourself fighting various obstacles.


That’s all folks! Now, let’s dive into the other parts of Series V.


Portfolio Chatter

Great news for African creators as Paystack launches Product Links, a seller tool that allows brands to create simple, high-converting pages to sell products, display multiple images, collect delivery fees automatically, customize URL, & much more! Read the announcement here. Well done Paystack team!

Are you looking for more visibility for your business? Printivo is offering free promotional services for business. All you have to do is use the hashtag #FollowMyBiz and tag them and voila! For more information, visit here.

We’re happy to announce a new integration from Paystack. It is in collaboration with Craft SMS. To learn more about this new feature click here.

Paystack has also announced one of Africa’s first direct payment integrations with@Wix. To find out how to utilize it, click here.

RelianceHMO is currently hiring a Product Designer. To find out more about the criteria, kindly click here.

Drum rolls! We’re excited to announce that MDaaS has won an award as the Best Digital Health Solution by Pulse Nigeria for developing Sentinel X.

New feature alert! You can now pay using your dollar card on Trove Finance. To learn more about this, click here.

How are you adjusting your workforce for post COVID? See how Seamless HR can help you put your operations in order. Click here for more.


Inside VP

Ventures Platform Foundation has released its 2019 Impact Report. Read the report to learn how they have created 40,000+direct and indirect jobs – bit.ly/VPF_2019_Impact_Report

Ventures Platform turned 4 on the 6th of June 2020. We continue to say thank you to our partners, donors, program alumni, co-workers, community members, investors, mission-driven founders in our portfolio, and friends of VP! Watch our anniversary video here.

We published a piece on our stand on Sexual Harassment and the workplace. Read here.

With the support of the folks at UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, Ventures Platform Foundation will be hosting a Policy Dialogue Series on Thursday, 2nd July 2020 at 11:00 AM WAT to discuss the impact of COVID-19 crisis on startups & investors in Nigeria. Register here.

On Saturday, 4th July 2020 at 1:00 PM (GMT+1), Ventures Platform Founding Partner, Kola Aina, alongside top business leaders, Angel investors, early-stage venture capital firms, and founders will gather at Velocity_Mini (by Stanbic IBTC Founders Institute Lagos) to discuss how businesses can thrive amidst the global crisis and celebrate founders who have completed the FI Cohort II program. Register here.


What are we reading?

Everything on the internet.


Are you building a market-creating innovation? We would like to know more. Apply here.


Stay safe and see you next month,

V.

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Press Releases Series V VP Blog

Investing in Tambua Health, Brass and FunnelJoy

We have spent the last 3+ years making early bets on companies building the future of Africa.

Today, despite the reality of the currently Covid-19 pandemic and its far-reaching 2nd and 3rd order social and economic effects, that hasn’t changed as we believe that this pandemic makes a stronger case for investing in innovative startups that are nimble and able to benefit from a boost in user adoption and lower customer education costs as people find new ways to live, work and communicate.

Moreover, the way we get out of rot is by building.
In furtherance of this mission, we are happy to back, Tambua, Brass, and FunnelJoy.

Tambua Health:

The first time we spoke to Lewis,  we were immediately blown away by the “why” behind Tambua, it was a compelling and deeply personal conviction around solving the problem he and his team were going after.

Lung related disease is an enormous and growing burden on society, resulting in one-in-six (16.7%) deaths globally, that’s about 2.5 million deaths annually across the world, More than $25 billion is spent each year on respiratory diagnostic procedures globally. While most respiratory diseases have a cure and are manageable, early diagnosis is the most essential for successful treatment. Unfortunately, medical imaging devices are invasive and expensive making them out of reach of some health care facilities and in facilities where they are available the associated cost is quite expensive making it increasingly difficult for everyday individuals to access quality healthcare service, which explains why the acoustic-based lung imaging and lung function test device built by Tambua is in itself revolutionary.

Tambua Health is using lung sound analysis to transform the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases globally. They have built a hardware device called the T-sense that generates images of the lungs by detecting the vibrations of sound as air moves in and out of the lungs using sensor arrays put on the back of the patient. The team has approached this in a fundamentally different way using first principles and has brought new ideas and advances in machine learning, acoustics, biomedical engineering, and electronics to lung diagnostic.

Brass:

Operating a business account for most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is expensive on average, opening an account requires several walk-ins to the bank, starting minimum balance, fees at every step of the way, a 10-page+ form and a lot of friction, not to mention limited access to credit or tools, basically no real value asides being able to receive and send money inefficiently.  Within our portfolio, we also observed how companies string together multiple tools just to run their finances semi-efficiently. 

And so when Sola shared his vision of 100% digital bank, tailored specifically for SMBs, designed to provide them with superior banking experience and tools to help them run more efficiently and increase revenue, we were sold.

Traditional banks have not applied anywhere near the same degree of innovation to  SMEs as they have done to consumer retail banking, even if the later still begs for improvement. While they are great at treasury management, they have massively underinvested in creating tools and services that enable SMBs to succeed, thus creating massive white space for a product like Brass.

Brass is a digital bank for SMB 100% online, no walk-ins, that provides them with a suite of product and tools designed to help them grow their business and significantly reduce the friction of doing business. Join the waitlist here to get notified when they go public.

FunnelJoy:

When we met Sam late last year, his thinking around solving a problem for digital entrepreneurs across the world and in the process building a globally relevant product deeply resonated with us, as we have always wondered why African founders weren’t building for global markets, More importantly, he had also spent the last 4 years selling multiple digital products across multiple continents and understood the challenges around doing this on a deep level. 

FunnelJoy is an all in one tool designed for digital entrepreneurs, marketers, and creators to help them capture, convert and engage leads and sell products online, FunnelJoy was built to simplify the process and offer an easy to use sales funnel tool to online entrepreneurs (something they can set up without the help of a web developer) that helps them convert visitors to actual leads or purchases. It’s a simple drag and drop tool to create landing pages and sales/membership funnels. The alternatives are expensive, non-intuitive, complex and require developers, designers, and “so-called ” experts to help build 

The Marketing automation software market is a $25B+ industry and expected to reach $32B in 2024,  Today, a lot of digital entrepreneurs rely on sales funnel tools to market and sell their products online and as more people explore digital commerce for the first time, FunnelJoy offers them just the right tool to do that. 

Interestingly >90% of the companies customers come from the US and European market and the product has a high retention rate. This speaks to how founders can build great products, loved by users all around the world irrespective of their geography.

So today, we are super excited to announce our investments in Lewis, Sola, Samuel, and their teams. They are some of the most talented founders building today and it is a privilege to partner with them.

Kayode Oyewole 

Partner, Ventures Platform Fund

About Ventures Platform Fund

Ventures Platform Fund invests early in mission-driven founders that are building capital-efficient platforms that democratize prosperity, plug infrastructural gaps, connect underrepresented communities, create efficiencies, solve for non-consumption, and improve livelihoods.

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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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Communications Press Releases Series V VP Blog

Ekiti State Government and Ventures Platform Partner to Strengthen Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Ekiti

Abuja, *20 January 2020* The Ekiti State Government and Ventures Platform (VP) have launched a partnership to design and implement Digital Ekiti- a program that will strengthen youth innovation and entrepreneurship in Ekiti State. 

Through the program, both parties will work to catalyze increased economic productivity, new employment, and wealth-creation in Ekiti State by developing youth capacity in innovation, digital technology, and entrepreneurship, as well as provide diverse forms of support for nascent enterprises across the state.

Ventures Platform (VP) is an organization that works to empower Africa’s youth by catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship- serving as a platform that connects and supports Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs, enabling them to achieve exponential growth. 

In the last three years, VP has provided funding and mentorship to over 170 African startups as well as supported over 40,000 entrepreneurs through capacity-building training. This new partnership is part of the organization’s strategy to increasingly target entrepreneurs and innovators in under-served places and sectors.

“At Ventures Platform, we are always seeking to work with diverse actors to develop programs that unlock the potential of sectors and create a vast number of jobs,” said Mimshach Obioha, Executive Director, Ventures Platform Foundation. “ This partnership with the Ekiti State Government serves as an avenue to create opportunities for youth and catalyse innovation in different sectors across Ekiti State”.

The Digital Ekiti program will work with various local stakeholders including hubs, tertiary education institutions, and relevant government agencies to strengthen the foundations of financial capital, skilled talent, networks, ICT Infrastructure and regulations which are the building blocks of innovation and enterprise ecosystems.

Follow @vplatformhub on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep up with the program and learn any new information as soon as it comes up.
You can email [email protected]  for partnership and enquiries.