A call to Innovation in Nigerian Universities

by | May 23, 2016

“In the meantime, I’m excited to see what Nigerians will build next” — Mark Zuckerberg link

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A statement commonly used, yet rarely practiced.

Can young Nigerians be really and truly innovative in such a way that society is improved and millions of dollars of wealth is created?

Graduate unemployment in Nigeria is at an alarming high which begs the question — what is being taught in our schools? If Education is supposed to be the way to be empowered, what changed?

A lot has changed and it’s clear today that the way to create jobs is by encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship. And that’s why FastForward Student Innovation Fund was created — to support the innovators in our schools.

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We will be investing between ₦250,000 and ₦2,000,000 for up to 25%* in innovations started by current students and recently graduated students (up to 3 years).

Innovation, not just startups nor business ideas.

We are not looking for just startups. We are looking for innovation. This might sound confusing a bit but it really isn’t. Lately there’s been blurry lines between a small business and a startup and it’s important that we clear that up.

A startup is a bold idea to do something that hasn’t been done before — at least in the way or market you intend to do it. To be bold, that venture should be one that has a chance of changing/impacting the way millions of people do things.

A small business is what it is — a business that is making money from an already proven space with no new innovation added that could change/impact the way millions of people do things.

There are other opportunities to fund regular startups and business ideas, FastForward is focused on next big innovations.

So if you are a student building something really innovative and tech-enabled in consumer tech , health, power, clean water, education et al, apply now at http://fastforward.com.ng. Our mission is to help you achieve global relevance and success.

What are we looking for?

Innovation knows no boundaries — that’s why its called innovation. However this is a guide to help interested students get a good idea of what would catch FastForward’s attention and what will not.

  1. Innovation of all kinds. We are investing in tech-enabled innovations, not just software, apps or internet startups. Agriculture, healthcare, environmental innovations can create even more impact than software innovations.
  2. Nigeria’s own Elon Musk. We are looking for visionaries and risktakers who value the global impact their project creates than the money. We are looking out for disruptive groundbreaking tech ideas that improves dramatically on current technologies / processes. They don’t necessarily have to make business sense in 2016.
  3. Job Creation. Sustainable ideas that empower others to make money. Uber of things. Tech-enabled solutions that enables self-reliance. Opportunities that will create hundreds of jobs.
  4. Innovations tackling big problems. As a Nigerian, living in Nigeria these issues are very obvious. Power for homes, offices and small business, clean water, improved agriculture systems, quality education, financial inclusion, affordable housing, open governance are some of those needs.
  5. Foreign Exchange Earners. One of the biggest problems of Nigeria’s economy is that we are more consumers than producers. Another equally big problem is that we have lots of local businesses and a handful of global businesses that bring money back into the country. Interested in supporting global ideas where a company can make millions of dollars outside Nigeria for a Nigerian company.
  6. Sector Revivals and New Sector Creations. There are too many untapped sectors and industries in Nigeria today — dead or non-existent. We are looking for ideas that addresses these issues. See how many makeup artists, personal shoppers and bakers we have in Nigeria now compared to 6 years ago.
  7. Smart and Visionary Founders. Being a student, your world view may be somewhat limited. However if that did not discourage us from wanting to invest in students, that should not discourage you from following your dream and adapting/improving along the way. Real Smart people might look arrogant, but they learn fast and improve on advice of experienced people.

Are you a student/recent grad doing anything along these lines or something crazier? Apply today at http://fastforward.com.ng

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Let’s make our schools bedrocks of innovation again.


This post first appeared on Opeyemi Awoyemi’s Medium.

Opeyemi Awoyemi
Opeyemi Awoyemi

Unrepentant entrepreneur. I founded Jobberman, ennovateNIGERIA, WhoGoHost etc. Dangote is my guy.

On January 22, 2022, be part of the largest gathering of innovators, startup founders, thinkers, programmers, policymakers, and investors in West Africa. Register free.

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