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JICA pours $37,000 seed fund into three Nigerian start-ups igniting entrepreneurial ventures



At the Idea Hatch (iHatch) incubation programme’s Cohort II Demo Day and Cohort III opening ceremony, three Nigerian start-ups secured seed funding totaling $37,000 from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The initiative aims to foster innovative ideas, nurturing them into entrepreneurial ventures, aligning with Nigeria’s digital economy agenda.

Hosted in Abuja by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in partnership with JICA, the event saw the first, second, and third-placed start-ups receiving $15,000, $12,000, and $10,000, respectively.

Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General of NITDA, noted that the iHatch programme offers a five-month intensive incubation, refining business ideas through coaching, lectures, and boot camps to generate scalable models, focusing on youth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

The programme aims to identify and empower young individuals with business ideas, providing comprehensive training and mentorship to produce market-ready products. Last year’s winners, each receiving $15,000, have collectively raised $274,000 and created 179 jobs.

Abdullahi outlined plans to extend the training nationwide, covering the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), emphasising the impact of this initiative on job creation and Nigeria’s digital solutions.

He said:

“iHatch is a 5-month free intensive incubation programme designed to help Nigerian entrepreneurs refine their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures, and boot camps, to generate viable and scalable business models.

“The incubation programme focuses on the youths, innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.”

Kazuyoshi Matsunaga, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, acknowledged Nigeria’s burgeoning entrepreneurial activity, expressing admiration for the startups’ resilience in addressing critical social issues despite security challenges and infrastructure deficits. He highlighted Japan’s active support for Nigerian startups through iHatch, NINJA, and IICA schemes, emphasising collaboration between Japanese and Nigerian companies for innovation and economic growth.

Matsunaga stressed the importance of economic diversification through fostering innovation and entrepreneurial drive among Nigeria’s youth, envisioning a brighter future for the nation by investing in startups and nurturing a culture of innovation.

He said,

“Startups are seen as catalysts for this transformation, bringing fresh ideas, innovaave technologies and new employment opportunities to the country

“Japan, with its long history of technological innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, has a significant role to play in supporting Nigeria’s startup ecosystem.

“In recent years, Japan has been actively supporting Nigerian Start-ups through
iHatch and NINJA, IICA schemes.

“In addition, collaboration between Japanese and Nigerian companies is another crucial element in fostering innovation and economic growth in both countries J-Bridge, a IETRO scheme, facilitates open innovation between Japanese and Nigerian companies, encouraging technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and joint product development:

“I believe that through such partnerships, it is important for Nigerian start-ups to leam not only Japanese technology and expertise, but also business manners such as punctuality and the spirit of KAIZEN, which is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.

“As we look to the future, economic diversification is essential for Nigeria’s continued growth and prosperity.”


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