Access Bank Plc, in collaboration with Africa FinTech Foundry (AFF), has said that their target was to see 40 technology start up businesses spring up in the next four years.
The Head of AFF, Mr Daniel Awe, stated this in Lagos on Thursday, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on the side lines of the AFF Accelerator Start up Pitch.
Awe said that the new oil was innovation and technology, solving problems with technology, pointing out that the collaboration between Access Bank and AFF was, therefore, to ensure support for the start ups.
He said that since the establishment of AFF, three years ago, it had been organising accelerator programmes and providing support for technology start ups.
”If you look at the fintech ecosystem, the business is evolving from traditional banking to more of technology driven, so, we sit in that space to look at the FinTech ecosystem, look at innovators, look at start ups, look at entrepreneurs, technology, doing great things.
”It does not have to be banking, it could be energy, banking, financial space, could be financial inclusion, inclusive finance, it could be anything. It can be insurance, so far you are solving the problem with technology,” Awe said.
According to him, for the 2021 edition, over 3,000 applied, 357 applicants were shortlisted, before 10 start-ups were finally picked to pitch their innovations for possible support from investors.
”In the next four years, we want to have about 40 portfolios of start ups and probably in the next seven to 10 years, some of them could become billion dollar businesses. When you look at a nation that is developing, this is the development.
”So, when you give a start up money, spending the money wisely, running the business needs a lot of mentorship, needs a lot of guidance, needs a lot of advisories, needs a lot of discipline.
”And even when you run into things that can make somebody discouraged, you still need a partner that can keep you going. So, that is what we are doing with them,” he said.
Awe said that through the AFF accelerator programme, start ups were being prepared to be potentially investment ready for venture capitalists that would provide funding for their innovations (businesses) to grow.
”We want everybody to succeed. We also see this as our own way of supporting the economy, supporting the youth, supporting ideations, supporting innovation.
”So, some of them, of course; might make it faster; some might make it slower; but the truth is that we are going to be on a journey of success,” he said.
Earlier, in her remark, Mrs Chizoma Okoli, the Executive Director, Business Banking, Access Bank, said that over the year, the bank had been supporting the youth and had created a lot of entrepreneurs.
Okoli urged the 10 start ups pitching their innovations to be courageous, as they were going to confront challenges, as they venture into the business.
”The point is that businesses fail in the first five years or maybe three years of the businesses, it is a lot of struggle; some drop off. But, what makes you succeed is to pick up your failures, turn them and move on.
”It will not be easy to build a business, but the thing is that if you have the right support, you will definitely achieve your goals.
”So, we are very passionate about youth empowerment and we continue to do what we need to do to make sure that our youth don’t run away.
”Why do I say don’t run away, because data has it that youths in Nigeria are about three times the number of those of other African countries that are in the diaspora. They are seeking for jobs.
”We are not saying that you shouldn’t go overseas, we are saying that you guys are very innovative and when you are here and have banks like Access Bank to support you, bring that innovation, we will indeed support you,” she said.
The 10 start ups, who pitched their innovations include ‘OgaPos’ – an application that enables one to view the menu of restaurants, place order and pay for what has been ordered. It reduces time spent waiting for food ordered at restaurants.
Also, ‘SanwoPay’ – an app to receive and make payments, providing payment solutions for shop owners and bus drivers, instead of heavily relying on cash.
Others are Afrinovate, CapitalX, RegXta, Agro, UMscope, FarmDelite, Josla Electric and Insurance Hub.