As part of its efforts to create an enabling ecosystem, the Lagos state government has relaunched a Workspace Voucher programme to give startups access to over 50 partner hubs in the state at a discounted rate.
The programme which will be implemented by Lagos Innovates, an initiative of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) is designed "to support the highest potential founders and/or startups in Lagos State at the very early stages of their ventures (ideation to very early revenue) by facilitating access to well-equipped workspaces," Hakeem Onasanya, Head of Startups at Lagos Innovates told Benjamindada.com.
He further stated that the voucher covers 30% to 75% on average of membership costs at any of the partner hubs for 3 to 12 months. "The programme will facilitate access to well-equipped workspaces and facilities for the startup community in Lagos State and help defray the cost of accessing infrastructure and networks for the highest potential new ventures," Hakeem added.
Every Lagos-based tech startup that is duly registered with the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) is eligible for the programme. The vouchers are free and startup founders can apply at no cost.
Previously, the programme was opened only to startups in the ideation and early revenue stages with a small team that is unpaid. At the time, the applications were scored by a panel of judges made up of experts within the Lagos startup ecosystem. At the time of this report, Lagos Innovates was yet to respond to our request for this year's selection methodology.
This announcement comes six months after the Lagos state government suspended the planned implementation of ₦150,000 safety audit fees for tech hubs and co-working spaces in the state.
The audit which was slated to be carried out between September and November 2022 by Aquicorn Projects was received with several criticisms. "To ensure adequate stakeholders engagement and representation, the Commission wishes to suspend the planned audit whilst providing further necessary training sessions with the facility," Lanre Mojola, the LSC's Director General said in a statement.
Arguably the most valuable startup ecosystem in Africa, Lagos is the launch bed of several leading African startups and unicorns like Interswitch, Flutterwave, Paystack and Jumia. The General Manager of Techstars, Nancy Wolff, describes Lagos as a "successful startup ecosystem that merits more global exposure, investments and resources, [with] extraordinary potential."
Last year, the state government disclosed its plan to launch VC Fund writing bigger cheques than before. Although, the Lagos governor's Special Adviser on Innovation & Technology, Olatunbosun Alake told Benjamindada.com that the pilot launch will be held last year, it has not been launched.
The workspace programme is one of the activities that the state government is using to create an enabling environment for Lagos-based startups. "the challenge in the tech ecosystem as far back as 2016, has always been around limited infrastructure such as the internet, power, and talents. We want to help startups solve those problems," Teju Abisoye, the Executive Secretary of LSETF told newsmen last year. So far, GetEquity, Onehealthng.com, DataLeum and Scholar X have benefitted from this initiative.
Lagos is also amongst the 12 states that have indicated an interest in domesticating the Nigeria Startup Act.