Work and Connect, a hybrid model enterprise support organisation from Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, offers a variety of support to entrepreneurs through its Connect Lab, Connect Venture and Connect Foundation arms.
The hub was founded by Abdulrazaq Ahmed and Mohammed Hussaini, both graduates of the University of Maiduguri.
Prior to founding Work and Connect, Ahmed worked in the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, started a cybercafe, ventured into real estate, became managing director of a currency exchange service, started a luxury building materials and finishing company.
Hussaini, on the other hand, spent most of his career working with tech companies (mostly semiconductor manufacturing companies) in San Jose, California in the US before starting an ICT consulting firm there.
With over 25 years of experience each and also with networks from Silicon Valley, the pair started the incubation hub and coworking space in 2019.
In Ahmed’s words, “We saw the knowledge gap, the dearth of skills and hopelessness at home and we decided to create a platform for young people to ideate, experiment and express themselves. Our goal is to lead the growth of northern Nigeria from emergency to development through impact investment, and entrepreneurship development. Ultimately, we want to change the narrative.”
While its coworking facility includes the shared workspace, workstation, training halls, conference room, lounge among others (here’s a link to take a virtual tour of the space), its Connect Venture arm invests in profitable and scalable early-stage companies in sub-Saharan Africa, and its Connect Foundation arm is a non-profit company that implements social enterprise programs focused on the grassroots.
However, it is the Connect Lab that is of utmost importance to the company right now. The startup accelerator arm of the company has launched a startup sandbox program. It is a 3-month acceleration program for early-stage startups in Abuja to build, validate and develop their businesses into profitable and sustainable enterprises.
The Start-up Sandbox is a 3-month start-up acceleration program that also supports female founders and provides a safe space for mentorship, growth and access to funding post-incubation.
— Work and Connect (@workandconnect) March 3, 2020
Work and Connect says the project is designed to build 30 youth-led businesses with minimum viable products from market entry – iteration – to investment-ready. They will be supporting startups in diverse sectors including but not limited to agriculture, education, Internet of Things, fintech, and green energy.
Also, selected participants will be supported with office accommodation and provided with access to top mentors.
In the end, it will culminate in a Demo Day, where select startups will pitch to top African investors and potentially secure seed funds from Connect Lab.
Abuja-based startups ready to take advantage of this should apply here before March 7, 2020.
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Nigerian startups raised $377m in 2019, more than twice what they did in 2018. Find out more when you download the full report.