CoLab is Kaduna’s first innovation hub and co-working space that seeks to provide a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs and innovators in Northern Nigeria.
Lagos has been touted as Nigeria’s tech hub for so long, and CoLab seeks to broaden the perspective beyond Lagos. It’s a place where young Nigerians from the north- Kaduna, especially -can access tools that would enable them compete favourably with their counterparts all over the world.
CoLab, located in Barnawa, Kaduna, was founded by Sanusi Ismaila, who is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TechSuplex. He wrote a heartfelt piece about his motivation for the idea. As a champion of northern Nigeria, a witness to the promise that it once held, and a believer in its future, Sanusi Ismaila and others like him are building something out of the ruins.
The piece describes Sanusi’s commitment to his region of origin, and his belief in the current technology ecosystem. He points out how Kaduna is an ideal choice due to already existing infrastructure and low cost of living. There is also the fact that the city is situated near potential markets like Abuja and Kano and is also accessible to Lagos via train or air.
In Sanusi’s words, “The long-term goal is to make Kaduna as a whole an IT hub; the go-to place in Nigeria, when there’s any IT related need. With time, who knows? Maybe it’ll be the next India. There’s no telling how far it can go, my goal is just to push as far as I can.”
CoLab has affordable offerings ranging from N5,250 per month (or N525 per day) to N10,500 (or N2,100 per day) with added access to advanced training classes and private meeting rooms. CoLab will also offer mentorship programmes, ICT skill training and the opportunity to link with potential employers.
The space launched on October 4, 2016 and they are offering free access until October 18 (two weeks) to commemorate the launch. According to their website, all the female participants of the Kaduna Startup’s Hack Series that happened in September, 2016 will also be getting free access for a year.
Core Northern Nigeria holds a place in my heart as a I was born in Kano, and spent most of my early childhood there. This part of the country has suffered quite a few setbacks in recent years, and the economic ecosystem has still not recovered. While CoLab is not the first of it’s kind in Northern Nigeria, as it claims, one can never have too much of a good thing.
CoLab has lofty goals, and we’re rooting for them, while their detractors may argue about the originality of the idea, they should be reminded that most of the best business ideas were copied, improved upon and adjusted to fit the intended market.
Apparently talent discovery, development and nurture is well underway.