While Nigeria stands out as a prominent tech investment hub in Africa, the majority of investments are directed towards startups located in Lagos and other states in the southwestern region. According to the 2023 Northern Nigeria Tech Ecosystem report, out of 188 surveyed startups, a mere 6% have successfully secured funding.
“Northern Nigeria is often misunderstood and misrepresented, and over time this has led to stereotypes that have made it difficult for startups from northern Nigeria to secure funding, even when they have promising ideas and strong teams,” says Surayyah Ahmad, founding partner at TTLabs and Aduna Capital, an Abuja-based VC firm.
Since Surayyah identified this challenge, she has worked with other tech investors to drive funding in the region. Recently, TTLabs selected five startups for the inaugural cohort of the Northern Founders' Startup Accelerator Program.
In October, she told Bendada.com about an ongoing collaborative effort to launch a direct investment fund in the region. Today, Aduna Capital has announced that it is setting up a $20 million fund to invest in about 57 tech startups in Northern Nigeria. 50% of the fund will be targeted towards female founders.
“Our goal is to unlock opportunity by backing such founders, while also actively building the bridges across Africa that they require to scale,” she added.
The sector-agnostic fund, dubbed Northstar Fund I, will write cheques ranging from $10,000 for early-stage startups and $200,000 for growth-stage. Aduna Capital says it will collaborate with other VCs for co-investments to mitigate the risks associated with investing in an infant ecosystem.
Surayyah and her founding partner, Sanusi Ismaila, who is also the founder of CoLab, a leading tech innovation hub in Northern Nigeria, intend to build on their experience in incubating and accelerating the growths of startups like Sudo Africa and Agriache.
“Regardless of which forecast you look at, Nigeria is predicted to be one of the largest populations within the next few decades. What those forecasts do not say explicitly, is that most of that population explosion will happen within northern Nigeria.” Sanusi told Bendada.com. Adding “We understand the culture, we know the nuances, and most importantly we have figured out how to make that population explosion productive; Aduna Capital allows us to do it at scale.”
To achieve its ambition, the duo will also work with several advisers, mostly seasoned tech entrepreneurs and policymakers, including Iyin Aboyeji, Kola Aina, Khalil Khalil, Mohammed Ciroma and Musa Ali Baba. As well as global partners like Voltron Capital, GIZ, Ventures Platform, Launch Africa, and Future Africa.