Douglas Imaralu

Douglas Imaralu is a communications and international development professional. He is presently a Partnerships and Communication Fellow with Restless Development, USA and a Fellow of the White House/Atlas Corps Emerging Global Leaders Initiative (EGLI) program from Nigeria. He writes from New York and tweets from @jefumare.

ANDE West Africa maps Lagos entrepreneurial ecosystem

Most humans are entrepreneurs because the will to create—and to survive and strive to prosper—is encoded in our DNA. But it doesn’t mean we should all start companies.

We embrace Reid Hoffman’s view on entrepreneurship and see it first-hand in Lagos. Nigeria’s economic nerve centre constantly attracts big numbers of people pursuing fortunes and dreams. For entrepreneurs here, starting and growing a business can be really tough. But the will to create new opportunities have driven many to start one of several online platforms that has emerged in recent years.

As young Nigerian entrepreneurs continue to create, the need to map and support these businesses becomes more pressing. Questions like— what support systems are needed to back entrepreneurs behind these businesses? Who are the intermediary organizations supporting entrepreneurs? How do we engage them and facilitate more support for entrepreneurs? The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), is an organization that works with intermediary organizations that provide this kind of support to local entrepreneurs.

The Network recently hosted an event in Lagos and presented the Lagos Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot. With support from Citi Foundation, the goal of this ecosystem is to provide better insight about the business environment, local support systems, and entrepreneurial intermediaries in and around Lagos and Abuja (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana). It will also map the organizations supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs), and identify those gaps, challenges, and opportunities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem in these locations.

This project will provide much needed intelligence for organizations to understand their role within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, identify potential partners, and serve as a reference for entrepreneurs to identify where to access certain types of support.

“To be able to tackle various challenges in the Lagos entrepreneurial ecosystem, actors need to find a way to collaborate and not just compete,” said ANDE West Africa Chapter Coordinator, Olatunji Ajani, highlighting key findings alongside ANDE West Africa Regional Chapter Consultant Joshua Adedeji. According to him, “poor access to finance, lack of collaboration and /coordination among actors supporting entrepreneurs, difficulty in finding competent and skilled talent, and high- cost of rent are amongst the most pressing challenges.”

Key stakeholders who presented at the discussion on the 10th of February included ANDE steering committee members: Peter Bamkole (Enterprise Development Centre), Nneka Eze (Dalberg Global Development Advisors), and Mobola Onibonoje (Alitheia Capital). Other organizations such as AMSCO, WEConnect International, Ashoka, Fate Foundation, Leap Africa, CSR-in-Action, Bolseth Group, MEST, and Idea-Nigeria were also in attendance.

Representatives from Youth for Technology Foundation, Mind+, Makers Academy, WAVE Academy, E-green, MITIMETH, Sceptagon International, Third Sector Development Solution, and Unlock Consulting, among others met in small groups to discuss the findings and recommend how to close the gaps.

According to Mr Adedeji, similar stakeholder meetings will be held in Abuja and Accra in March to get input from actors in the entrepreneurship community in those cities. The final entrepreneurial ecosystem snapshot will be released towards the end of second quarter of 2017.