El-Rufai to launch $100M fund for startups in Northern Nigeria

Former governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai wants to launch a $100 million fund to invest in Nigerian startups, especially those in the North.

El-Rufai to launch $100M fund for startups in Northern Nigeria
Nasir El-Rufai

Nasir El-Rufai, former governor of Kaduna state has revealed that he plans to launch a $100 million venture fund to invest in the innovative ideas of young Nigerians, starting with the tech ecosystem in Northern Nigeria.

The fund will be managed by a newly launched VC firm, Afri-Venture Capital, which will commence operations in Abuja next month.

“What young people need is essentially mentoring and financing to get things going. They develop the idea and see whether it is viable. And we will open doors for them because they don’t have contact,” El-Rufai told BusinessDay.

Last year during his tenure as governor, El-Rufai facilitated the launch of the Kaduna Technology City in collaboration with CoLab and Iyin Aboyeji's Talent City. The City launched with the commissioning of the CoLab Innovation Campus which is a donation from the state government to CoLab, a leading innovation hub in the region. Spanning across four warehouses in the city with 300 workspaces, and a 200-seater multipurpose event space.

He also positioned Kaduna as the first Nigerian state that commenced efforts to domesticate the Startup Act, which has now been implemented by his successor.

The planned launch of this sector-agnostic fund further doubles down on his interest in innovation in Nigeria, especially in Northern Nigeria. “We know that they need to give them appointments and we can provide them with the startup funding and in return we take an equity position. We don’t want to take your business; we want to develop it. But if we take the risk on you, we will take a percentage of the business,” he added.

A few days ago, Aduna Capital, an Abuja-based venture capital firm, revealed its fundraising initiative to establish a $20 million fund for backing tech startups in Northern Nigeria.

Out of the 188 startups surveyed for the 2023 Northern Nigeria Tech Ecosystem report, only 6% have successfully secured funding. These funds will help to bridge the financing gap which has been a challenge in the region.

El-Rufai says he will commit $2 million to the fund, and he intends to woo more investors to get to the $100 million target, stating that “[Investors] who believe in us but don’t have the capacity or the time to do the analysis and evaluation. But they trust our judgment and they will come with us.”

This is a developing story

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