The Washington Post

Educating innovators and entrepreneurs in Nigeria

Nigerians read newspapers on April 20, 2011, at a newspaper stand in Kano in northern Nigeria. (SEYLLOU DIALLO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Two new innovation centers are in the works in Nigeria. Both will offer prospective entrepreneurs a chance to brainstorm their ideas with other, aspiring inventors and company founders.

Co-creation Hub Nigeria will be located in the city of Yaba, near prominent Nigerian universities such as the Univeristy of Lagos. According to its Web site, the hub will provide “a place where different stakeholders think and work together to create innovative solutions to the social challenges facing Nigerian society.” The hub will cater to software developers and social entrepreneurs “on a membership basis.” Among the resources the organization plans to provide are a “multi-stakeholder team” to evaluate a product or ideas feasibility, development and testing, and “venture incubation.”

The Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, is investing in the project. Investment partner Stephen King tells The Next Web’s Nmachi Jidenma that the hub “promises to foster the development of technology-driven social enterprises that will address manyof Nigeria’s most pressing problems.”

The second entity, The Institute of Venture Design, is being created in partnership with Stanford University’s Center for Design Research. The institute has a two-year fellowship program dedicated to fostering an environment that promotes unconventional behavior and risk-taking. The institute already has a facility in Abeokuta, Nigeria, and five of the fellows have been selected. The fellows will work in a three-phased system that will allow them to bring viable product ideas from inception to completion. In the final stage, fellows will be called on to mentor the incoming class in the hopes of continuing the institute’s tradition of mentorship.

The creation of these organizations come at an important time for Nigeria, as the nation’s technology sector continues to expand, and networked devices become more accessible. There are also signs the Nigerian government is preparing to take the technology sector more seriously, appointing respected corporate executive Omobola Johnson to lead the nation’s new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ministry.

(The Next Web)

Emi Kolawole is the editor-in-residence at Stanford University's, where she works on media experimentation and design.



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