Ventures Platform Foundation (VPF), the social impact arm of Ventures Platform Hub, has launched a call for applications for its latest incubation programme —Gov Labs.

Gov Labs is  a 12-week programme for tech solutions implementing accountability and transparency within the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 response.

The initiative was created with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and will support Civil Society Organizations from across Nigeria as they build innovative solutions promoting good governance and wide scale access to public services.

From the pool of applicants, five organisations will be selected and will each receive a $2,500 grant as well as access to mentorship, technical support and networking opportunities.

During the 12-week period,  participants will also work alongside key experts in policy advocacy, citizen engagement and public sector reform as they build scalable and easily adoptable solutions which target the pain points of the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 response.

Speaking on the launch of Gov Labs, Mimshach Obioha, Executive Director at Ventures Platform Foundation, says “Since the pandemic began, there has been a major emphasis on the health and economic implications of COVID-19 however, we cannot deny that democracy and governance have also taken a huge hit during this period. With governments imposing restrictions on civil liberties, we need stronger support for basic human rights and something needs to change urgently.”

“In light of this, the Nigerian government has proven itself somewhat open to citizen input and that’s where Gov Labs comes in. We’ve always known Nigeria has a rich supply of entrepreneurs who are hungry for change but now, we’re giving them a platform to not only equip the government to make more informed decisions, but also drive access to vital public services at a time when people need them most.”

Read: Ventures Platform hosts online Demo Day for COVID19 Innovation Challenge, seven startups to receive $21,000

According to Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), there were over 100 incidents of human rights violations within the initial lockdown period alone. To curb the impact of the coronavirus, Nigeria has imposed stringent and severe measures on its citizens, most notably around the freedom of movement and assembly.

However, this has often corresponded with a notable rise in unlawful arrests and detentions, extra-judicial killings and sexual & gender based violence (SGBV) amongst other issues.

In 2020, Ventures Platform Foundation drove a number of initiatives to address pre-existing crises in Nigeria as well as the devastation caused by the pandemic.

In October, the company awarded $6,000 to seven different start-ups developing tech solutions to assist the fight against the coronavirus as part of its COVID-19 Innovation Challenge and also recently launched its Start Up North East incubator to aid relief efforts for the crisis in Northern Nigeria.

Also read: LASRIC and Ventures Platform to back seven successful startups from #COVID19InnovationChallenge

For additional details on the Gov Labs program, more information can be found here and applications close on the 6th of February 2021.