Abuja is fast becoming the next “haven” for internet startup activities in Nigeria after Lagos, and it’s not so difficult to see why. The federal capital territory boasts of amenities such as, good roads, constant electricity -- all of which are major factors considered by startups when selecting a base of operation. Not to mention that there is the proximity to the central government as an added perk -- which apparently is what Civic Innovation Lab is looking to build on.
The social incubation hub will certainly not be claiming the title of first -- nor will it be the “last” -- technology hub to emerge within the capital city of Nigeria. But, since officially opening its doors on Friday, June 9th, 2017, it is already looking to contribute immensely to something gradually turning out to be one of Nigeria’s most active tech communities.
While, of course, it operates no differently from most technology hubs, offering co-working facilities and event space, Civic Innovation Lab has a unique style of play; with a focus on harnessing innovation, and technology to provide effective solutions to pressing social and environmental issues.
Pioneering the Civic Innovation Lab initiative is a group of people who are passionate about technology. But it is Mosope Olaosebikan that sits as the programme's adviser. The decision to play around social and civic impact, according to him, has a lot to do with connecting the government with the startup community.
“I see the government as the biggest platform for social impact,” he says, “I also see that there’s a huge disconnect between the startup community and the government.”
This explains why Civic Innovation Lab will be proactive in providing engagement between social innovators, the government and the tech community; in order to create sustainable solutions to solve social challenges in Nigeria.
"A good example of a social enterprise that would have emerged from our program is BudgIT," Mosope explains. Stacy Ewah, the hub manager, is quick to reiterate that, "the program is more targeted to people working for the good of the nation."
All things being equal, the kind of skills set Civic Innovation Lab is meaning to build in Abuja will afford beneficiaries the opportunity to access people who can help them accelerate their “government relations” at the very least.
“Apart from the area of education and engagement that we are encouraging, we are also very big on working with the government to create some attention on the ecosystem and create policies that will favour the ecosystem,” he further buttresses.
The stylish looking hub is located along a stretch of road in Wuse II, Abuja -- a place which is apparently home to a few notable high-profile companies. Mosope likens the setup to the long stretch of Herbert Macaulay road in Yaba. He also jokes about the possible birth of a “Wuse-con” Valley right within Abuja.
The Civic Innovation Lab programme spans 3 months concurrently, during which businesses (social enterprises) would get the required resources and mentorship to scale their operations.
Activities are yet to peak at the innovation hub, as the gospel has been predominantly spread through word of mouth and social media engagement, according to Stacy. They are however looking to formally announce application later this week (on Techpoint).
So, if you’ve got something in the pipeline along social innovation and civic impact, and need a push, you could do well to check out their website.