For the city of Abeokuta, Ishola mentioned that an innovation centre like OnlineHubNG can foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the following ways:
Providing a collaborative workspace: A hub provides a physical space where entrepreneurs, innovators, and creatives can work together, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. This promotes teamwork and cross-fertilization of ideas, which can lead to the birth of innovative ideas and solutions.
Facilitating networking: A hub provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to network and connect with other like-minded individuals. This networking can lead to partnerships, joint ventures, and collaborations, which can help to scale up businesses and innovations.
Offering training and mentorship: Hubs can provide training and mentorship programs for entrepreneurs and innovators. These programs can help entrepreneurs to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to start and run successful businesses, while also providing guidance and support on their entrepreneurial journey.
Access to funding: Hubs can also provide access to funding opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators. This can include grants, seed funding, and venture capital, which can help to support the growth and development of new businesses and innovations.
“Overall, a hub can serve as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship in the local community by creating a supportive ecosystem that fosters creativity, collaboration, and growth.”, Ishola added
Describing the state of innovation and entrepreneurship in Ogun state, Ishola noted that the Gateway state has been recognized as one of the leading states in Nigeria in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship.
“The state is home to a number of thriving businesses, innovative startups, and technology hubs that are driving economic growth and development in the region.”
“The state government has also played a significant role in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship through policies and initiatives aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”
Giving an instance, Ishola said that the state government established the Ogun TechHub, which is a technology innovation center that provides a platform for startups, entrepreneurs, and innovators to connect, collaborate, and access resources needed to scale their businesses.
“Ogun State has a thriving ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship, and the state government continues to support and promote the growth of small businesses and startups in the region.”, he added
On improving Nigeria’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems, Ishola highlighted the following recommendation
Enhance access to finance: Access to finance is a major challenge for many entrepreneurs in Nigeria. The government and private sector can work together to create policies and initiatives aimed at increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs, such as setting up dedicated funds, creating loan guarantee schemes, and simplifying the process of accessing credit.
Promote collaboration and partnerships: Collaboration and partnerships among entrepreneurs, businesses, universities, and research institutions can help to spur innovation and drive growth in the technology and entrepreneurship sectors.
The government can create a conducive environment for collaboration by providing support for innovation hubs, incubators, and accelerators, and also by facilitating connections between entrepreneurs and potential partners.
Develop human capital: Developing human capital through education and skills training is critical for building a strong technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The government and private sector can work together to create educational programs and training opportunities aimed at equipping young people with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the technology and entrepreneurship sectors.
Foster a culture of innovation: Encouraging a culture of innovation is important for nurturing entrepreneurship and promoting creativity.
The government can create policies and initiatives that incentivize innovation and entrepreneurship, such as tax breaks and other incentives for startups, and also promote innovation through public awareness campaigns and events.
Improve infrastructure: Developing and improving infrastructure, such as electricity, transportation, and telecommunications, is critical for the growth and development of the technology and entrepreneurship sectors.
The government can invest in infrastructure development, create policies encouraging private sector investment, and improve regulatory frameworks to facilitate infrastructure development.
“Overall, improving Nigeria’s technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship ecosystems requires a multifaceted approach that involves collaboration among government, private sector, and other stakeholders.
By implementing these recommendations, Nigeria can create a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation, which will drive economic growth and development in the country.” Ishola stated
Challenges and milestones
For Ishola, one of his biggest challenges includes attracting and retaining talented and motivated members, managing finances and generating revenue, developing and implementing effective marketing strategies, and fostering a strong sense of community and collaboration among members.
Other challenges include managing the physical space and ensuring that it is functional, attractive, and well-maintained, as well as keeping up with the latest technology and trends in the industry.
In addition, navigating complex regulatory frameworks and legal issues is also a challenge, particularly in the early stages of establishing the hub.
However, it’s not all gloom for the Abeokuta-based hub as Ishola also shared some significant milestones including the successful launching and establishment of the hub as a thriving community of entrepreneurs and innovators.
“We have attracted a diverse group of members with different backgrounds, skills, and expertise, and created an environment that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation.”, he noted
Other milestones include securing partnerships with stakeholders to provide mentorship and other resources for members.
“Additionally, we have launched successful programs and events, such as training workshops, hackathons, and networking events, that have helped to support the growth and development of businesses and innovations in our local community.”
Ishola added that the hub’s flagship #OneStudentOneSkill project is targeted at empowering teenage (in-school and out-of-school) students (with special focus on the under-served communities) by organising physical alternative classes which introduce them to relevant Computer-themed skills/topics.
This helps them improve performance in their school curriculum, makes them skilled and self-reliant in the Nigerian eco-system as well as aids in making informed career decisions after being exposed extensively to learning and relearning the new technological trends of this evolving digital age.
As explained by Ishola, the initiative seeks to improve teenage students to become skilled and self-reliant by engaging them in identified skill areas to raise 21st-century professionals capable of building solutions.
The project identified and developed 5 basic Computer-themed Skills area:
Mobile App Dev.
Applied Digital Skills
Youth and Women participation in innovation and entrepreneurship
OnlinehubNg has supported the increase of youth and women’s participation in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship by creating programs and initiatives specifically targeted at these groups.
Examples stated by Ishola include offering training and mentorship programs, networking events, and other opportunities that are focused on supporting women and youth entrepreneurs.
Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that encourages diversity and inclusivity. “By doing so, our hub helps to break down barriers and create opportunities for underrepresented groups to thrive and contribute to the growth and development of the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem in our local community.”
Government and ISN role
Ishola explained that the government can assist hubs in various ways, including creating policies that promote innovation and entrepreneurship, providing financial support, creating an enabling regulatory environment, and building infrastructure to support the growth of the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“Specifically, the government can provide grants or subsidies to support the establishment and operations of hubs, facilitate partnerships with businesses and academic institutions, and provide tax incentives or exemptions for startups and entrepreneurs.”
“Additionally, the government can provide support for skills training and education programs, and create initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration, networking, and mentorship among members of the hub.
Overall, government support can be instrumental in creating a conducive environment for hubs to thrive and contribute to the growth and development of the local community.”
On the role of ISN Ishola commented that being part of the network, ISN Hubs provides access to resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities that can help hub owners and managers to grow and scale their businesses.
“Additionally, ISN Hubs organizes events, training workshops, and other initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration and knowledge-sharing among members of the network.
By being part of the ISN Hubs network, our hub has benefitted from the collective knowledge and expertise of other hub owners and managers and leverages this knowledge to support the growth and development of our own hubs.”
Online Hub Educational Services [aka @OnlineHubNG] is a digital education provider, and Nigeria’s foremost Digital Content Platform.
The hub empowers learners and educators by providing them with courses, workshops to educate and encourage professionals in the tech-based industry.
As a social enterprise, the hub is passionate about identifying talented minds and guiding them through innovative training, tech-talent deployment and sustainable solutions development in Ogun State, Nigeria.
Part of its mission is to help organizations, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), thrive online because we believe that every business in Nigeria should have an online hub.
The hub works with small, medium and large organizations or autonomous product groups within larger organizations. Its projects include Strategy Development and Execution, Digital Content Development, Digital Skills Consultation, Training, and Mentoring.
“At Online Hub Education Services, we look forward to helping you thrive online!”