Nigerian tech start-ups selected for $200,000 global exhibition
Two Nigerian technology start-ups, Paddy Cover and Pricepally.com, have been selected for the Dubai World Trade Centre’s $200,000 exhibition, while TruQ emerged the ‘EIC and Lagos State winner’ during a talent show at Eko Innovation Centre, Lagos.
The insuretech firm, Paddy Cover, co-founded by Mayowa Owolabi and Tobi Obasa, and the food sourcing and distribution tech firm, Pricepally, owned by Luther Lawoyin, as well as TruQ, owned by Williams Fatayo, beat 24 other contestants, who pitched their ideas before six judges at the Eko Innovation Centre, Lagos.
The two winners will go on an all-expense-paid trip to Dubai to pitch their idea to over 400 investors and thousands of technology ecosystem players at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) 2022 exhibition for a chance to win $200,000.
They all will converge on the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October for the five-day business show, mentorship and networking with world technology business leaders.
GITEX is an annual consumer computer and electronics trade show exhibition and conference that takes place in Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
GITEX is one of the world’s most influential meeting places for the technology industry, bringing together thought leaders, creators, innovators, and so on.
The Africa roadshow is organised by GITEX Global and sponsored by Dubai North Star, which represents the UAE Government, and partnered locally by the Lagos State Government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The judges at the event were Akeem Hassan, TA to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology; Segun Cole, Co-founder of Fund the Gap Alliance; Amos Udok, Representative of NITDA; Ireayo Oladunjoye, Head, Startups Lagos State Employment Trust fund; Oguntade Adeseye, Unit Head, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ONDI, and Olorunnisomo Olaoluwa, Co-Founder, Seed Builders Innovation and Foundation.
Addressing newsmen at the event, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Tunbosun Alake, said: “The initiative is to give opportunities to our ecosystem start-ups with better access to local and foreign markets.
“At the same time, Dubai and GITEX are keen to be part of the start-up ecosystem in Lagos. This initiative is for us to explore opportunities together, so the finalists will be participating in the North Star program in Dubai in October, and we hope they are able to get more international investors and access to the UAE market.
“The number one objective is to grow our ecosystem. In terms of accelerating the state as a tech hub, it gives us more recognition globally because of our partners in the UAE. If the UAE is here, it is a signal to other partners across the globe. It also helps our start-ups here to get access to their market internationally and with that, they can expand their revenue base.”
Explaining the Africa roadshow, the Director, Commercial Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, Zarko Ackovik, said the organisers “recognise that Nigeria obviously has the largest ecosystem in the whole of Africa.”
“However, we don’t see too many African and Nigerian start-ups coming up for expansion, so instead of just sitting there, we decided to come to the region to offer the opportunity for the start-ups.
“The show brings them the opportunity to network, to go into competition, the $200,000 cash prize money, and the opportunity to take their start-ups there.
“It is not only just to compete and meet investors but also the exposure comes with a lot of the big media as well, and they create partnerships and networks because the show brings 700 start-ups from over 60 countries, and investors coming from all over the world as well,” Ackovik added.
The country representative of Dubai World Trade Centre of the United States-based Pinnacle International Consulting, Akande Ojo, explained that they had decided on an African focus, and a Nigerian focus going forward.
“A winner gets accommodation, space as a start-up to showcase himself and engage with investors, because technically you are part of their programme,” he noted.
Earlier, Director-General (DG) of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, pledged to support young Nigerians with start-ups in various forms to catalyse the entire eco-system towards building a digital economy.
Abdullahi, who spoke through his Head of Corporate Planning and Strategy, Dr. Aristotle Onumo, said: “As regards this particular programme, the North Star is trying to take advantage of it to expose our start-ups, while NITDA is partnering with GITEX. What is happening now will happen in Dubai, but the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Dubai Government are represented here today.
“They have come to Nigeria to be able to harness the innovative skills already within Nigeria to start early marketing of the two to be selected and connect them with various investors across the globe so that even before they get to GITEX proper, they would have had a kind of visibility.
“This is the first time we are dealing with them to ensure that they can bring the event close to Sub-Saharan Africa; Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, among others.
“The idea is that many of our start-ups are talented but they don’t have that bridge to connect with, because they don’t have the resources.
“So, they bring it close to you. We try to see the real talent. So the only thing it costs you is your ‘car fare’ to come here, not flying to Dubai.
“Eventually they will pick the top two each from Lagos and Abuja to be fully sponsored, and the rest of the Lagos Government initiative – the Eko Innovation Centre and NITDA can also support.
“The idea is just to allow more tech-preneuers to create more jobs and in return increase the foreign direct investment.”