Three Nigerian startups Xolani Health, Evlvery Farmer and Betalife clinched the first, second and third positions respectively at the iHatch Startup Incubation with each winner going home with $15,000 courtesy of Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA).
The Demo Day is an iHatch Startup Incubation organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) through Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), a subsidiary of the Agency, in partnership with JICA.
The 1st Cohort Demo Day was designed to accelerate innovation and provide the much-needed jobs for Nigerian youth.
The successful completion of the first cohort means inauguration of the Second Cohort of the iHatch Startup Incubation.
Speaking during the prize presentation, the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, said that the partnership with JICA in the implementation of the iHatch programme is part of its initiatives to strengthen the tech and innovation ecosystem for the creation of more IDEs that will invariably contribute to creation of jobs for the youth and the prosperity of Nigeria.
He said that the programme would go a long way in nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of young innovative Nigerians to catalyze the Nigerian digital economy to the next level.
Inuwa who was represented by National Director of the National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), Engr. Ya’u Garba, said over five thousand entries were received but was was pruned down to 8 startups.
He added that they comprising a Founder and Co-Founder for each startup, after undergoing two levels of rigorous selection process conducted by a panel of 10 judges, constituted of experts from diverse areas of technology and innovative entrepreneurship.
“The selection process assessed the startups’ ideas based on the criteria of profitability, scalability, social impact, idea technique, competitive advantage, experience, and a clearly defined future roadmap”, he stated.
According to Inuwa, in the course of the programme, the startups benefited from free virtual and physical interactive lectures with experienced mentors, free workspace, mentorship meetings with tech professionals, pitch deck enhancement, and networking opportunities, and four startups that were initially not legally registered, successfully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) while work is in progress on the prototyping and Intellectual Property (IP) registration of their business ideas.
“Flowing from this partnership, NITDA and JICA conceptualised and designed the iHatch, a five-month free intensive incubation programme executed by the ONDI and hosted within the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).
“Essentially, the programme is designed to help Nigerian entrepreneurs refine their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures, and bootcamps to generate scalable and adaptable business models in the country”, he noted.
NITDA boss stated that Nigerian startups have continued to attract more investment than other countries on the continent, with a number of the startups raising about $600 million in the first quarter of 2022.
“The top ten startups that attracted the funding are Flutterwave ($250 million); Moove ($105 million); ThriveAgric ($56.4 million); Reliance Health ($40 million); Bamboo ($15 million); Credpal ($15 million); SeamlessHR ($10 million); DrugStoc ($4.4 million); Casava ($4 million) and Sudo Africa ($3.7 million). These clearly indicates the vast potentials that abound within Nigeria’s tech and innovation ecosystem”, Inuwa said.