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Nigeria’s tech scene is on fire. The country has seen some amazing things happen in its tech space in the last few months, with its tech neighbourhood and state-backed innovation hubs.
Now it’s time for the country’s entrepreneurs to do their bit. Techpreneurs of iROKOtv and Nollywood fame, Jason Njoku and Bastian Gotter, have decided to launch a company to fund tech companies in Nigeria.
SPARK, is a one million dollar project created to support and develop aspiring Nigerian tech and internet entrepreneurs. The Lagos-based company calls itself a company that builds companies and it currently exists in the country’s angel investment (US$30-75 000 funding level) ecosystem.
“In Africa, we’re witnessing an exciting metamorphosis, from a tech ‘scene’ to a tech ‘revolution’, where Lagos is very much the gateway for the entire continent. The creativity, talent, the spirit of entrepreneurship is here but Nigeria’s business ecosystem isn’t set up to adequately support start-ups in their earliest days. Our intention with SPARK is to act as the catalyst to a period of aggressive and exciting growth in Africa’s Internet sector,” says Njoku.
For the team the decision to do this was quite simple, following some very significant disruptions in the Nigerian internet scene.
The country currently sees an economic growth of seven percent per annum and its internet sector is estimated to be worth US$250-million. By 2016 that number will be close to one billion dollars.
SPARK wants to tap into the Nigeria’s tech industry as it believes that it is “fast becoming one of the country’s most prolific and exciting sectors”.
“Many entrepreneurs struggle to make the transition from idea to business, due to prohibitive start-up costs, a lack of on-the-ground angel investment opportunities, a lack of access to trusted mentorship and business bureaucracy. The SPARK mission is to facilitate the transformation of good ideas into awesome, profitable and sustainable African internet businesses,” says SPARK.
The companies funded by SPARK will be managed by Jason Njoku, Bastian Gotter and Mary Remmy-Njoku. The trio state that SPARK will concentrate on well-defined and scalable revenue models. These companies include a hotel room booking site, a Christian dating site and a property-letting site. Companies in the SPARK network currently employ 80 people and by the close of 2013, SPARK expects to have created or funded 20 companies in total.
The company also argues that Nigeria’s incubation model isn’t what it should be mostly due to lack of infrastructure and that’s what it hopes to fix.
“We fund our companies, provide them with the back room assistance they need to get started and advise them on all aspects of their business. SPARK is the financial, intellectual and pragmatic engine that will propel Nigeria’s Internet entrepreneurs from start-ups to dynamic businesses that generate jobs and income for the region,” says Gotter
Currently SPARK has seed-funded 13 companies in Lagos including: Hotels.com.ng, Christians.com.ng, Bus.com.ng, Giddimint.com.ng, Borro.com.ng, Insured.com.ng, ToLet.com.ng and Foto.com.ng.