Startups, MSMEs and businesses across sub-Saharan Africa are still trying to make up for lost ground from the pandemic. The economic recovery in the second half of 2021 was on the upside and this prompted a significant revision in 2021’s estimated growth from 3.7 to 4.5 per cent.
However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has jeopardised that progress and triggered a global economic shock that is hitting sub-Saharan Africa hard. This is evident in the surging oil and food prices. The inflation rate at the time of this publication stands as high as 16.82% according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
This economic downturn is hitting everyone hard - individuals, startups, MSMEs and large corporations. To help both individuals/businesses navigate these difficult times, the Lagos State Government is accelerating its intervention initiatives through its Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
LSETF was established in 2016 to provide financial support to residents of Lagos State for job and wealth creation and to tackle unemployment. The fund promotes entrepreneurship by improving access to finance, strengthening the institutional capacity of MSMEs, and formulating policies designed to improve the business environment in Lagos State.
Some of LSETF’s notable achievements since it was launched in 2016 include giving out loans worth ₦8.4Bn to more than 12,710 beneficiaries, training 1,000 Lagosians in digital marketing skills and offering grant schemes to support MSMEs who were affected by the #ENDSARS protest and Covid-19 pandemic.
A few of LSETF’s programmes designed to drive innovation within Lagos are MSMEs loan programmes for small businesses, Lagos State employability support project, Lagos COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Program, Lagos Leap Tourism and Lagos Innovates.
Inside Lagos Innovates
The Lagos Innovates initiative is a series of programmes designed for the benefit of technology and innovation-driven startups in Lagos State. The initiatives seek to provide access to high-quality infrastructure, learning, capital and networks and cement Lagos’ position as the leading destination for startups in Africa.
Through open, merit-based online applications, Lagos-resident founders can benefit from any of the interventions which are:
- Workspace Vouchers: 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 covering 30% to 75% on average of membership costs to well-equipped workspaces and learning in Lagos.
- Hub Loans: This program targets co-working spaces, incubators and hub operators who want to fund the expansion or improvement of their existing facilities at current sites or increase their number of locations. The Hub loan initiative makes meaningful capital available for high-performing, outcome-focused workspace providers.
- Idea Hub: Lagos Innovates’ Idea Hub Program - which is between 3 to 12 weeks - is designed to support early-stage tech-enabled ventures with relevant skills, networking opportunities and mentorship from seasoned industry experts to achieve a minimum viable product; geared toward building a competitive and sustainable brand.
- Talent Development Program: In partnership with Honeywell Group Lagos Innovates supports capacity development by facilitating access to IDE- or tech-focused entrepreneurship content and programming. The programme funds up to 80% of the cost of program attendance by the highest potential individuals (founders, developers or tech startup employees) active in the Lagos tech startup ecosystem through a student loan program.
Teju Abisoye, the Executive Secretary of LSETF told newsmen during a media parley in Lagos on Wednesday that “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.”
“LSETF is trying to create an enabling environment where founders can develop, share ideas, and learn from experts. Lagos Innovates want to push startups from the ideation stage to the funding stage,” Abisoye added.
Startups that have benefited from the Lagos Innovates interventions include GetEquity, Onehealthng.com, DataLeum, Scholar X.