BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Funke Opeke wins first Innocent Chukwuma Award for Innovation

Funke Opeke, chief executive officer of MainOne, has been announced winner of the maiden edition of Innocent Chukwuma Award for Innovation.

According to the organisers, the category is under the Start-up awards by StartupSouth which was set up in honour of Late Innocent Chukwuma, one of Nigeria’s foremost human rights activists, development professional and former Country Director, West Africa at Ford Foundation.

StartupSouth is a Startup and creative-digital economy ecosystem development and advocacy organization inspiring a generation of founders building high-scale ventures across Nigeria with special focus on the South-South and South-East regions.

Uche Aniche, the Convener of StartupSouth, while announcing the award disclosed that Opeke was chosen by a Jury in recognition of her contributions to the development of Nigeria’s Innovation Ecosystem.

Opeke, while accepting the award said, “obviously, the work that we are all committed to do to promote innovation and economic development in Nigeria is not yet done, however with the continued commitment of note-worthy citizens and organizations such as StartupSouth, I remain optimistic that together, we will continue to make progress and achieve the vision of a more productive and enterprising Nigeria.”

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Similarly, Joesphine Effah-Chukwuma, widow of Late Chukwuma congratulated Opeke and praised her sterling records in support of the Innovation Ecosystem.

“Our family is impressed with your work and are grateful to StartupSouth for initiating this award in honour of our husband, father, brother and in-law.” Effah-Chukwuma said.

Meanwhile, Flutterwave and their CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, were both awarded ‘Startup of the Year (National)’ and ‘Most Inspirational Founder of the Year (National)’ respectively.

Other winners include Ugochukwu Aronu, CEO of Enugu-based Xend Finance, who was awarded the ‘Most inspirational Founder of the Year, (Regional)’ and Green Technologies, a renewable energy OEM and SSEAN portfolio company, which was also decorated as ‘Startup of the Year (Regional)’.

StartupSouth also noted that it collaborates with key stakeholders including founders, innovation hubs, enterprise support organizations, policymakers, local and international foundations and development organizations to co-create solutions to blockers hindering the innovation ecosystem growth.

The award according to StartupSouth identifies and honours individuals and organizations that through their works are extending the boundaries, deepening innovation ecosystem and creating opportunities.