NIGERIAN VENTURE CAPITAL “FUTURE AFRICA”

By Paul Ndiho

A Nigerian entrepreneur is contributing to a drastic change in Africa’s technology landscape.  His ability to start multi million-dollar tech companies, create jobs, and solve the continent’s pressing challenges is going very well.  

Nigerian technology entrepreneur, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, is arguably one of the most recognized names in Africa’s tech space.  The 29 year-old, has already invested in more than 20 technology companies across Nigeria and East Africa.

Here are two examples, Andela, is a talent accelerator that recruits and trains software developers and connects them with employers in Silicon Valley.  And Flutter wave is a global payments platform that empowers African merchants to operate on a worldwide scale.

Now Aboyeji is on a new mission to fund promising startups through his venture capital firm “Future Africa.”  The company is a people-powered innovation fund that provides capital, coaching, and community to mission-driven innovators that turn Africa’s most significant challenges into business opportunities.

 “I’ve spent the last few years at building startups, some of which are most people know like Andela and Flutter wave, and now I’m an Angel investor in businesses. And I intend to build a small portfolio of startups geared to solving tough problems across Africa”.

Aboyeji says his goal is to “create new and more sustainable funding sources for Nigeria’s tech Eco-system.  Future Africa comprises diaspora-based Nigerians looking to tap into tech opportunities back home, as well as younger, upwardly mobile Nigerians interested in aggressive investment strategies.

“We usually focus on companies that are solving challenging problems, and it comes from our own experiences as founders when we started Andela. We knew there was a vast unemployment gap; the education that young people are receiving at that time wasn’t going to give them the ability to engage in global jobs, like in development and design.  What we did was to devote programs that addressed the challenges that we face, and this created a flooded space of remote engineers, designers, and writers from Nigeria.”

 Investment in Nigerian startups has soared over the last five years, making Lagos the most valuable technology hub in Africa.  But the financial support is being dominated by funds from Silicon Valley, London, China, or elsewhere, rather than from local investors or high net worth individuals.  They tend to focus on more traditional sectors like energy and agriculture.

“Nigeria is an interesting country. In terms of Africa, Nigeria is a critical factor. It’s the largest economy, and it has the largest population and a very diverse market. So, understanding this place and conquering it means not just to getting richer but really to providing people with the playbook for scaling across the continent.”

Aboyeji has hosted several tech giants in Nigeria, including Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, co-founder, and CEO of Twitter. Both men are invested heavily in the Nigerian market.

Much of the collective’s credibility likely stems from Aboyeji’s track record as a startup founder and investor, having co-founded Andela and Flutterwave.  The companies have received a combined $235 million in funding.

54gene, a genomics research firm that Aboyeji has invested in has raised $15 million dollars.  For a man whose dream is to change Africa’s technology scene, the sky is the limit.

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