In this week’s edition of ISN hubs featuring innovation centers across Nigeria, we visited Enugu State where we met Ekene Odum, Director of Operations at Genesys Tech Hub.
The Enugu-based innovation center is a people-centered community created to serve to serve as a hub of learning and innovation in the area of technology.
Also serving as the nucleus of a community of talented individuals whose innovations will fuel a tech revolution- changing the way business is done in West Africa, and opening up a whole new sector of the economy to the sort of growth that will have a far-reaching impact on the economy.
So also the hub provides opportunities for startups in the tech industry to widen their horizons gain access to markets and resources that would otherwise be out of their reach.
Basically, Genesys Tech Hub is serving as a nucleus of innovative activities in Southeast Nigeria and beyond.
Innovation and entrepreneurship
On how hubs foster innovation and entrepreneurship in their local communities, Ekene said that hubs create access to resources and a collaborative environment for different players to network.
While also describing the state of Innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria, Ekene said that young people in the country are actively playing in the field of innovation while trying to create products and services that disrupt the traditional methods.
However, there are still challenges in infrastructure, technology and talent space
Ekene however mentioned that to improve Nigeria’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, there has to be a conscious effort to foster greater collaboration between government, industry and research institutions.
“There is a great need for government to implement comprehensive regulatory frameworks that would create the enabling environment for a handshake between the industry and research institutions.”, Ekene said
Challenges and milestones
For Ekene, managing talents has been his biggest challenge, however, Genesys Tech Hub according to him, stands out among all the hubs in the southeast and South-South Nigeria.
“We have successfully used our position to graduate over 300 young software developers from our programs, trained more than 1800 tech enthusiasts, funded 8 startups and supported over 145 SME businesses.”, Ekene added.
Asides, Genesys Tech Hub operates Startup Boost, an acceleration program that is targeted at early-stage tech businesses that have built at least a minimum viable product, already testing the markets and are ready to scale their businesses.
Startup Boost aims to inspire and support early-stage startups by providing access to invaluable resources like industry-leading product/project managers, software engineers and business growth strategists.
The program also provides mentorship to the founding team in the areas of leadership, business, operations and technology; drive economic growth by helping these startups grow and amplify their stories.
Startup Boost is structured to last for 6 months from the point of onboarding. Starting from business overview and modelling in the first month, each month is dedicated to a specific theme, accompanied with practical tasks that would assist the startups to achieve specific mileage in their journey to scaling.
These tasks are performed by participating startups and presented to the faculty which is made up of industry experts and potential investors.
The faculty gives feedback to each startup and also provides guidance to assist them to complete the tasks. By the 6th month of the program, all participating startups are expected to be ready to scale.
‘We believe that the most valuable asset we have at Startup Boost is the crop of people that make up our faculty.
Our faculty consists of industry professionals from some of the leading technology firms in the world – Google, Facebook and others.
Also, the feedback and evident growth of startups who have participated in the program is a testament to the efficacy of our approach.”, Ekene noted
Startup Boost provides some of the best opportunities to early-stage startups in this part of the world.
Genesys Tech Hub is currently taking applications for the next cohort of our Startup Boost Program. Startups who have market-ready products (MVP) can apply through the link.
Women and girl’s participation in tech
“Most of our programs are targeted at youth and women. For instance, we have the Pink Summer of Code, a one-month free software training program for young ladies, aimed at encouraging them to dive into the technology space.
Another of our programs, the Young Innovators Challenge (YIC) is uniquely designed to foster an awareness of common concepts and emerging trends in technology, in the minds of secondary school students. We have many more of such initiative targeted at youth and women.”, Ekene commented
Government and ISN’s role
On how the government can assist hubs in Nigeria, Ekene said that there is a need for a strong partnership between the government and hubs to drive the growth of innovative activities.
Government should utilize hubs as implementing partners for innovation-related initiatives and also provide financial support where necessary.
On ISN’s role, he said that has been a strategic source of resources, network and information.