Creating support for SMEs at The Funding Space 2019
The Funding Space held its 3rd Annual Convening on September 12 -13, 2019 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos. This year’s theme was Social Change Intersections in Africa and had in attendance 265 attendees and 40 representatives of donors and investors.
The two-day event kicked off with a welcome address by the Chairman, Mr. Bolaji Balogun, the CEO of Chapel Hill Denham and Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc. Ms. Thelma Ekiyor, the Founder and Convener of The Funding Space, gave an overview of the platform as an access to finance, impact investing, training and networking platform in Nigeria. The main objective of The Funding Space, according to her, is to inspire, challenge, support and share information on access to funding/finance with Nigerian actors and diverse donors and investors.
A goodwill address was delivered by Chief Osa Amadasun of the Central Bank of Nigeria, elaborating on the financing opportunities established by the CBN for SMEs. Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on the Ease of Doing Business, delivered a keynote address titled: “Creating A Condusive Environment for Investing in Nigerian SMEs”, by outlining the various initiatives of government to improve the business environment for SMEs.
The event featured panel discussions, which were conversation starters that engaged a vibrant, diverse audience. Sessions included: Business Innovations, Women Financing Women, Financing SDGs through SMEs, Impact Investing in Nigeria and Faith-Based Investing.
Notable panelists at the robust discussions include Dr. Ndidi Nnoli, Chief Sustainability Officer of Dangote Group; Ms. Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa for Facebook; Ms. Solape Hammond, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State; Ms. Patricia Obozuwa, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer for GE Africa; Ms. Yemi Keri, CEO Heckerbella; Mr. Phil Southwell, Partner at ChapelHill Denham; Ms. Ivana Osagie Director of Corporate Development at Notore; Ms. Inimfon Etuk, Founder She Forum Africa and Ms. Liz Grossman, CEO Baobab Consulting.
Others include Dr. Sade Adebanjo, Consultant on Health Policy to the Governor of Ogun State; Ms. Toyin Adegbite Moore, Executive Director West Africa, Africa Venture Philanthropy Alliance; Ms. Meghan Curran, West Africa Director for Acumen; Dr. Wiebe Boer, CEO of All On; Dr Bala Magaji of Inclusive Business Network; Mr. Sunkanmi Oladimeji, Vice President at Synergy Capital Partners.
On the long list of distinguished panelists were also Ms. Nike Jagun of Lagos Angel Network; Mr Boma Ekiyor Founder, Youth Converts, Canada; Mr. Funlola Otukoya, Africa Advisor at Concordia, New York USA; Ms. Lydia Idem, CIO FM Capital, California USA; Fr. Atta Barkindo of Kukah Centre; Pastor Godman Akinlabi, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church and Dr. Muhammad Kabir, Head of Strategy at Jaiz Bank.
Local and international actors from the private sector, investment and donor communities also participated at the event. The 2019 event highlighted the growth of women-led and women-focused funds in Nigeria in a panel discussion segment titled: “Women Financing Women.”
The uniqueness of The Funding Space is that it puts grassroots entrepreneurs who are typically sidelined, and high-level investors in the same room. Participants at the event enjoyed the “speed-dating,” which allowed them interact with investors and donors without protocol.
A major highlight of the 2019 event was the Youth Innovation Challenge, where five shortlisted young aspiring entrepreneurs presented their innovative business ideas to a panel of Judges chaired by Ms. Yvonne Moore, Founder and Principal Philanthropic Advisor of Moore Philanthropy, New York, USA. Other judges were experienced donors/investors and senior executives from United States African Development Foundation USADF), Mr. Andrew Echono, GroFin, Ms.Gwen Abiola-Oloke and Mr. Tobias Wolfgarten of the German Development Corporation (GIZ).
Winners of the competition, who received seed grants for their businesses, were Ugochukwu Mbaka (Mupocycle), Chuks Oteke (Film Anatomie) and Tobi Ricketts (The Kitchen Space) in the first, second and third positions respectively.
The event also served as the official launch SME.NG, an impact investment platform investing in women and youth-owned Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), providing business advisory support as well as capacity building.