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Wennovation Hub: Empowering African Entrepreneurs by solving socio-economic challenges

  Wennovation Hub is the pioneer innovation accelerator in Nigeria since 2011, with offices in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and recently Kaduna. It was co-founded by the dynamic quartet of Wole Odetayo, Michael Oluwagbemi, Idris Ayo Bello and Dami Agboola; four young Nigerians who believe in the power of technology innovation and youth entrepreneurship for the economic emancipation of Africa. The vision of the hub is to achieve sustainable development in Africa by fostering innovation among the youth population. They also focus on social impact sectors including Agriculture, Healthcare, Education, Clean Energy and Social Infrastructure. Wennovation Hub emphasizes the need to inspire and empower entrepreneurs to solve socio-economic challenges in their communities by leveraging technology resources and networking. Up till date, they have supported over 300 startup teams and well over 6000 youths physically with as much as $2.5 m. The money was raised by startups within their network and over $66M raised as follow-on funding by startups within the founders’ network. As Nigeria’s first privately run incubator/accelerator, Wennovation Hub has incubated more than 60 teams. They have seeded over a dozen companies and directly impacted more than 300 high impact entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs . They collaborate with these entrepreneurs to build commercially viable businesses that have high impact solutions to some of the most resilient challenges in different communities across Africa. “Our efforts have been recognized by World Bank – Infodev by sponsoring Lagos Angel Network which we convened in 2013, McKinsey who mentioned Wennovation Hub severally in their “Lions Go Digital” 2013 report, Ashoka Global Institute and SAP by giving Wennovation Hub a “Changemaker – Power of Small” Award in 2012 amongst many others”. [bctt tweet=”@wennovation Hub emphasizes on social impact, job creation and the importance of youth capacity development in all programmes” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] “Today, our active portfolio companies account for tens of direct jobs and over $150k in sales annually. Wennovation Hub, as a leading accelerator, in achieving impact has forged strategic partnerships across the global entrepreneurship ecosystem with the likes of CTA Netherlands, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Spring University Canada, Village Capital Atlanta, Kick Incubator USA, Covenant University, Tony Elumelu Foundation, USAID, Obafemi Awolowo University, Total Nigeria Plc, PIND, FMARD, IITA, MIT, AfriLabs, MIIS, University of Ibadan – Centre for Entrepreneurship Institute, University of Lagos, and a host of others in our partnership portfolio”. The hub also supports startups operating in any sector with particular emphasis on those that leverage technology due to the huge potential for scale and growth. Their dedication to innovation and tech-enabled entrepreneurship is in line with our strategic goal of being positioned as Africa’s Topmost Technology Startup Accelerator promoting innovative ideas, building high-impact entrepreneurs and nurturing top businesses in the process. The Co-Working Spaces in Mokola Ibadan, Ikeja Lagos, and Jabi Abuja are open to all entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, start-up/business owners, innovators, inventors, freelancers, creative entrepreneurs and techies/tech-preneurs.   Registration at Wennovation Hub provides the following opportunities: A beautiful and serene workspace environment Access to internet facilities and uninterrupted power supply Access to our various training programs that improve technical skills for tech-preneurs, Business skills development programs for entrepreneurs and growth acceleration programs. Opportunities to access numerous funding opportunities and connect with potential business investors/consultants. Free invitations to our various social and networking events Opportunity to interact and network with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs for personal and professional growth. [bctt tweet=”Through collaboration, we can leverage technology innovation to solve major socio-economic challenges – @wennovation ” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] We are proud to be a pioneering force in the Ecosystem pushing the frontiers of Technology Innovation and supporting Entrepreneurship across the continent – inspiring, creating and promoting innovative and sustainable solutions to the socio-economic challenges of Africa. This is Wennovation! Our Focus Areas Ibadan Hub – Ecosystem Development Programs – Entrepreneurship Development Program Fully Serviced Co-Working Space Lagos Hub – Proto Lab and MakerSpace – Markers Ecosystem Engagement Market Acceleration and Rapid Prototyping Lab Abuja Hub – Public Sector Incubation Programmes – Public Sector Policy Advisory and Consulting Public Sector Engagement Programmes At Wennovation, OUR MISSION To inspire and empower African Entrepreneurs to solve their immediate socio-economic challenges by leveraging technology, resources, and network collaboratively. OUR VISION To achieve sustainable development in Africa by fostering innovation among the youth population.  Sponsored Post.

Seapei Mafoyane: Fill yourself up with hope, belief and pure audacity

Shanduka Black Umbrellas CEO, Seapei Mafoyane

Small business is seen by many in South Africa as the saving grace in the fight against unemployment and with the track record of small business success, measured interventions to bolster this sector receive a lot of attention. One such intervention is Shanduka Black Umbrellas (SBU), a business incubation programme in South Africa that is focused on supporting small black business on its path to achieve sustainability. SBU is arguably the top business incubator in South Africa, recognised for the solid interventions it is making to corporatize black businesses. 2015 was a watershed year for the incubator, as it celebrated six years in existence and won the Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year Award at the National Business Incubation Association in the United States. To top it all off, they appointed Ms. Seapei Mafoyane as the new Chief Executive Officer. Seapei is a bold woman who believes that South Africa needs sustained long-term impact interventions to make notable strides in small business development. She defines this as her mission in her role as CEO. SLA contributor Asanda spoke to her to understand how she sees the small business landscape in South Africa going forward and most importantly, the role SBU will play in the years ahead. Asanda: You have spent a significant amount of your professional career in strategy and financial services, how did you make your way to small business development in the not-for-profit space? I worked in strategy and the financial services in various capacities for my entire career and this was in line with my undergraduate degree in the sciences. I came into direct contact with the small business development area during my MBA studies at Wits Business School a few years ago. My research focused on an area that was not explored at the time, the challenges facing black female entrepreneurs in South Africa. It was during this time that I realised I had to be selfish and follow my heart. So you could say my dissertation led me to Shanduka Black Umbrellas. Everyone is talking about small business development and how it can be the saving grace for the current economic climate is South Africa, why do you think it is receiving so much attention? I think we have the buzz that we have now in South Africa because of the realisation of the dire needs in this country in terms of entrepreneurial activity and the economy as a whole. Sustained security of the black person is no longer in the employ of the white person. Black people can now dare to dream. The challenge is to ensure that it is not just a buzz but that we have a coordinated approach from the various stakeholders that will ensure that we start seeing the upside to it. What role has Shanduka Black Umbrellas played in the past to grow black business? Shanduka Group has played a key role in setting the stage for the face of black business in the country. They led the pack in the establishment of a black-owned investment holding company in S.A. and it was a natural progression to have a foundation that focuses on both small business development and education. What sets SBU apart is the clear focus that says, ‘we know we cannot be everything to everyone.’ So we chose to respond to the need of 100% black-owned businesses, which also happens to be the greatest area of need in terms of entrepreneurial activity in the country. The businesses that are incubated at SBU are what we call the ‘cream of the crop’ in terms of entrepreneurial potential. We incubate businesses that will be sustainable so that they can improve the economic conditions in the country. Our focus is not on survivalist businesses, but game changers and high impact entrepreneurs that can grow into large corporations and employers. Over the last five years, SBU’s statistics have shown that out of the 100 business owners that walk through our doors, only 5% of them get to be incubated. This is because we have a clear focus on long-term sustainability and choose to support businesses, which can meet our strategic objectives which are aligned to the country’s National Development Plan (NDP). What sets your business incubator apart from other incubators in the country? We conducted extensive research on the trends in small business development and we found that 84% of small businesses fail within the first 24 months of operation and out of that, 90% are black businesses. Reducing the failure rate especially of black business is extremely important and that is why we have our mandate to respond to this group in particular. When a business is accepted into our extensive 36-month program, they need to create a minimum of four jobs during that time. Other structures in South Africa on the other hand create on average 1.2 jobs and when you look at other developing nations, the figure sits at 3.3 jobs over the same period. Our other focus is to ensure that at least 50% of the businesses that graduate from our program are sustainable. The national average of success currently stands at about 20%. SBU have maintained a statistic of 70% graduation sustainability over the last few years. What has the business incubation industry and government not done well thus far? What has not been done well is the maximising of all the available resources in the system to help execute the mandate. The value chain for small business is still very disjointed and if we are to make the progress needed, this needs to change. What are your priorities as the Chief Executive of SBU? No doubt sustained long term impact. However there are a few things that need to happen for that to be realised. We want to not only see businesses doing well but as they graduate, they need to stay a part of the alumni of successful businesses which others starting up can look to for advice, mentorship and potentially market