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[NITEC & Technology Start-Up Financing Without Tears]

27
May 2016

NITEC & Technology Start-Up Financing Without Tears

An inspired Facebook post by Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr. (CFA) recently got me thinking. He said, “We will keep playing our role for a better Nigeria…. Entertainment, Music, Fashion and Sports alone cannot develop our Nation. There is an over emphasis on them and corporate Nigeria is most guilty”.

As a tech-activist CFA is, I dare to say he felt like being in a wilderness owing to the insignificant support technologies companies, mostly, startups get from multinationals as well as Government. The conspiracy might have been induced by fear of the unknown: if we support or invest in them, they might grow big and send us packing. But, whether we like it or not, technology is winning.

Essentially, we must not hide under the undeniable fact that the success of an entrepreneur`s search for capital depends partly on the nature and mix of the operational and capital needs of the firm relative to the investment preferences of venture capitalist or fund providers, then, we can’t continue to dole out millions of dollars, sponsoring ‘anyhow’ ‘emotional inducing’ events while our supposed blue-chip companies in making are sulking!

Suffice to say, we are quick to recognise the critical roles entrepreneurs play in the development of economy, but few are committed to the task to understanding what constrains them from taking effective entrepreneurship and investment decisions.

Virtually every government/ dispensation in Nigeria takes the forefront efforts to modernise and improve the ailing economy through a “focus on macroeconomic stabilisation, and the pursuance of a massive trade and investment liberalisation programme to encourage foreign direct investment in the country”.  (Un)interestingly, the country usually pursue this agenda by relaxing most restrictions on current and capital transfers, introduced tax relief for those multi-nationals willing to invest in the country, and improved access to foreign exchange at near market rates, while the start-ups are left with like children in the street with bowls to beg for arms. Yes, billions of naira, at one time or the others, were ‘stacked’ in CBN for SMEs in Nigeria (generally to referred to firms with less than 250 employees) to access and grow their fortunes, but with strictest conditions.

Even, a recent study by the Federal Office of Statistics shows that 97% of businesses in Nigeria employ less than 100 employees.

By implication, 97% of all businesses in Nigeria are, to use the umbrella term, “small businesses”, which no government can afford to ignore such a high contributor to the economy.

Thus, the Entertainment, Music, Fashion and Sports ‘gems’ CFA was referring, seemingly, fall under the SMEs. Nevertheless, the penchant for technology SMEs cannot be over emphasized. They are the builders of disruptive technologies that spark creativity in other industries. The longevity of an innovation relies on the superiority of technology behind it.

Both the International Data Corporation (IDC), Gartner, Microsoft and other research consultancies, are projecting that worldwide spending on public cloud services (alone) will grow at a 19.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from nearly $70B in 2015 to more than $141B in 2019. Today, the global video gaming revenue is worth $101.62. While the world are still at awe over the driverless cars, ‘gas-free’ cars are on the verge. What is Nigeria and Africa in general doing to be part of the Internet of Things (IoTs)? Shall we continue to applaud and savoury the juicy, infiltrations of Silicon Valley applications, that capitals flights abound…technology startups must say, God forbid! A stitch in time can only save nine when you recognize that global village appreciates only continents and countries alike with fondness for productivity. Less stress less of download and start uploading.

What is needed? A platform for both parties: startups and investors to bare, share ideas and arrive at workable indices.

Permit me to say, we have several fora meshed with inspiring discussions.  However, it’s high time we embraced a paradigm shift from tiger-paper & conference communiques to hands-on template, which Nigeria International Technology Exhibition & Conference (www.nitec.com.ng) entails. NITEC wants to teach people the flexible, easy-going and ‘economic-friendly’ ways to finance technology startup. You may wish to call it, Start-Up Financing With Tears.

It is actually going to be a win-win for intending technology investors and start-ups, especially with the later sharing in the blames aforementioned. How? Our start-ups need to sharpen their marketing and presentation skills. There are many talents, chasing few ‘dollars’, in the pocket of the investor.

Therefore, NITEC 2016 and forward, will serve as a catalyst to achieve this goal. This is why the slogan for what will become an annual conference and exhibition is “Trending Technologies”, a slogan that will ensure each year’s edition captures all the trending issues in technology around the world.

To this end, NITEC 2016 is positioned to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors and the international technology community in re-engineering the African technological ecosystem for greater impact on the continent’s GDP.

Top reasons to exhibit at NITEC 2016 include exposure of products & services to thousands of attendees; exhibition booth (2 days); placement of brand logo on event brochure and website; complimentary wifi, place web banners and share branded gifts at booths. See you there!