World Innovation League formerly, NaijaHacks gets $1.2 million in funding from Canadian accelerator

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February 6, 2024
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2 min read
A picture of a group of people that attended NaijaHacks in 2019
NaijaHacks 2019. Image source: Instagram

The news:

  • World Innovation League, formerly NaijaHacks has received $1.2 million to train black people across the world.
  • The non-profit was founded in 2018 by Uchi Uchibeke, the founder of Nigerian fintech Chimoney.
  • The funding was led by a Canadian accelerator, Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster.

On a call with Techpoint Africa, Uchibeke said the $1.2 million funding will be used to equip Africans and and black immigrants in Canada with tech skills.

Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster said on its website that only 2.6% of Canada’s tech sector is comprised of Black Canadians and new immigrants, particularly Black women, and World Innovation League (WIL) "is seeking to elevate the representation of Black Canadians and new immigrants in essential tech roles by 50% over the next five years."

The funding will help WIL create a programme that will see 500 Africans and black immigrants in Canada get tech skills, and mentorship, participate in hackathons and even get work experience within four months.

While WIL will lead the project, there are other project partners such as the product management training platform, Co.Lab and Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.

From NaijaHacks to  World Innovation League

Uchibeke founded NaijaHacks, a Nigeria-focused hackathon competition in 2018 while he worked at Shopify in Canada. His goal for the hackathon was to create an opportunity for Nigerian talent, who were just as skilled as their foreign counterparts but did not have the platform to showcase their skills.

The hackathon grew fast. Uchibeke said it became the largest hackathon in Africa with over 1,300 participants and 50 sponsors including Microsoft, AWS Activate, and Twilio.

As the hackathon got bigger, it was rebranded to AfricHacks, with over 2,800 participants and ₦100 million in prizes ($72,000).

However, in 2023, AfriHacks rebranded yet again into what Uchibeke described as a non-profit tech talent accelerator called World Innovation League.

Getting funding from Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster

"We approached the Canadian Digital Supercluster, and we applied for a $1.2 million  to run a tech talent accelerator for minorities, immigrants, and also blacks across the world."

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The process from application to getting the funding approved took six months.

The work the non-profit — WIL — has been doing since it started has NaijaHacks in 2018 played a big role in getting the funding.

NaijaHacks went from just being a hackathon for Nigerians in 2018 to a global talent accelerator for black people.

Sharing how the journey has been, Uchibeke recollected how the hackathon got companies like Microsoft and Twilio as a sponsor.

In subsequent years, it partnered with even more organisations such as Access Bank and Financial Center for Sustainability Lagos, to host the Nigeria SDGs Hackathon.

The hackathons have also produced names like Emmanuel Njoku, one of the youngest startup founders in Nigeria.

"We've built that trust from a partnership perspective and also from an impact perspective."

And WIL is about to be even more impactful. Uchibeke disclosed that the non-profit will get another $10 million in some months and it will be used to train 4,000 people in four years.

He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.

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