BusinessDay

Opportunity for Nigerian businesses, others as JUA Kickstarter launches $1m entrepreneurial fund

Nigerian entrepreneurs and their counterparts in other African countries can now kickstart or expand their enterprises, thanks to the $1 million Kickstarter Fund by JUA.

Launched by an African industrialist, Adam Molai, the $1-million fund will provide entrepreneurs with growth capital, in a massive boost for start-up businesses in Africa.

Molai, who has successfully started several enterprises across Africa with TRT Investments that had $125-million of assets under management as of end 2019, says a desire to inspire the continent’s entrepreneurial generation was behind the creation of the fund.

“Without entrepreneurs, economies cannot grow and countries cannot advance. But African entrepreneurs unfortunately do not get the support they need to thrive for a myriad of reasons. Yet Africa is full of enterprising people,” Molai said.

According to him, wherever there is adversity, there is opportunity.

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“Africa is rife with adversity, wherever you turn business prospects are in abundance,” he said.

While SMEs are indispensable for Africa’s economic recovery from Covid-19 devastation, the largest impact of the pandemic is felt by the small businesses as constraints in liquidity and cashflow have resulted in endemic depletion of their working capital.

The opportunity for growth capital in a COVID-19 era is one of the catalysts needed to ensure Nigeria’s 41.5 million MSMEs as well as many others across Africa can survive the pandemic.

Entrepreneurs are described by economists to be solution providers to societal challenges as they create space for the advancement of their communities. Fortunately for Africa, the continent with the youngest population globally, the high unemployment rate in the region has paved way for increase in start-up businesses but access to growth capital remains a challenge.

According to a document from JUA Kickstarter Fund seen by BusinessDay on Wednesday, the Fund will provide successful applicants with capital – to launch or grow their businesses – as well as mentoring and guidance. Entrepreneurs from across Africa are invited to apply, it said.

On how businesses can tap from the opportunity, the JUA Kickstarter said the entire application process is electronic and funds are expected to be disbursed to successful applicants within 12 weeks of their shortlisting.

Molai says the inspiration to create the JUA Fund was to highlight the importance of African businesspeople, tangibly demonstrating their confidence in the talent and entrepreneurial capacity that is within the continent.

“When people see Africans investing in our own environment, they feel more confident to invest alongside us. Confidence breeds confidence. And I am nothing if not confident in the future of Africa and in what we can collectively achieve,” he said.

“For decades we’ve looked to governments to create a conducive environment for entrepreneurship to thrive in Africa. Governments alone will not achieve this without entrepreneurs also investing into creating more entrepreneurs. For true success, there is need for this symbiotic approach buttressed by supportive policies,” Molai added.

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