The hub trains children and youths in STEM and Robotics with state-of-the-art amenities and good quality internet.
Vatebra Hub also organizes series of training on digital skills like Data Science, UI design, Software development and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Cloud Computing.
In a chat with Kolapo Ogungbile, Business and Starup Program Manager at Vatebra Hub, we learnt how the hub is supporting tech skills acquisition and development in Nigeria.
Entrepreneurship and innovation
On how hubs foster innovation and entrepreneurship in their local communities, Kolapo said that innovation hubs are meeting points for a community, consisting of people sharing an identity and having a sense of belonging and participation.
According to him, people are inspired and motivated around the common cause of the hub. The hub creates an area for small businesses in different sectors to have a common meeting ground where they can exchange and share ideas and also partner in different ways thereby fostering innovation.
“Also, hubs tend to run incubation/accelerator programs where people are encouraged to submit scalable business ideas that advisors and mentors already in such fields can help improve on and grow.”
Kolapo further stated that funding is a critical component for startups to iterate and build great products.
“Last year, 2021 was phenomenal for startups in Nigeria raising over 1.5 billion USD in investment with most of these businesses headquartered in Lagos.
Compared to global investment raised, Nigeria startups raised 0.24% of global VC investment so the opportunity for growth is enormous.”
“Lagos is the major home of innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria. A lot of business and innovative ideas are steadily being born here.
There is also a lot of focus on growing ideas and programs aimed at making it easier to build a successful startup in Lagos. Also the growing presence of hubs in Lagos also helps promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the state”. Kolapo added.
On improving Nigeria’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, Kolapo said this can be achieved by implementing the right policies to promote an enabling environment for startups to grow. The Startup Bill in the process looks like the ecosystem is moving in the right direction.
According to him, collaboration can also be deepened amongst local hubs to design and implement startup programs.
Challenges and milestones
As explained by Kola, power issues has been a major challenge as there isn’t stable power and the cost of using diesel to continually run a hub is a lot and this puts a strain on finances.
Access to funds for Startups is also another challenge, if there were more investors willing to invest in different incubated startups, Vatebra would be able to run more incubator programs to grow scalable business ideas and sustain their growth.
In the face of challenges, Vatebra Tech Hub hosted a program called Idea lab. The Idea Lab program which was for a duration of 9 weeks was designed to give insights on how start-ups work, and for participants to learn what determines start-up success and to get the chance to start working on world-changing ideas.
“We had over a thousand signups but selected a little over 400. The program worked with over 100 early-stage founders across the country and explored 7 modules across 9 weeks. They had the opportunity to work with different mentors and advisers across different areas.”
Vatebra Tech Hub also hosted the One- Hackathon- Online Global Challenge in Nigeria during the peak of the Pandemic where over 20 countries participated.
According to Kolapo, the goal of the One Hack-a-thon is to encourage developers, start-ups, and technology experts to unite and develop solutions that’ll help combat the pandemic
At the end of the competitive event, one of the teams from Nigeria came out top as the Second Runners up Globally and another team was also awarded special recognition.
Government and ISN’s role
Kolapo said partnering with hubs in creating programs for entrepreneurs that would cover the cost of their space use as this would help more businesses come to hubs and grow the hub both in their community and financially.
Also, dedicated mentors for dedicated fields can be available to mentor startups incubated by different hubs.
ISN has provided a networking platform for Vatebra Tech Hub according to Kola
Youth and women’s participation
On how Vatebra Tech Hub has supported the increase of youth and women’s participation in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, Kolapo stated that one of our major focuses has been to provide relevant digital skills for teeming youths.
This according to him includes training in software development, data science, product design, software testing and more.
“We provide STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics )education through our fully equipped robotics Labs for Kids & Young Adults.
We believe strongly in introducing youths early into the technological space. We have run multiple training sessions for kids and youths on different digital skills and robotics training.”
They’ve also had classes on animation and comic creation, video editing and mobile photography, and content creation amongst others.
Vatebra Tech Hub has an ongoing call for applications for robotics classes, frontend web design classes and also product design classes.
The hub also held different free seminars and hackathons to help introduce people to the different aspects of technology.