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Creating support for SMEs at The Funding Space 2019

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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.


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