Nigerian tech businesses may have been forced to shut down their offices while their workers work from home, but many of them would not be folding their hands and letting the government alone take on the pandemic coronavirus.
As of Wednesday, the country has confirmed 46 cases of the coronavirus with one casualty.
Ventures Platform, led by its founder Kola Aina is rallying the rest of the ecosystem to find a tech-enabled solution to mitigate the effect of the virus. His campaign is gathering momentum.
As of Monday, the pan-African early-stage fund was announcing a partnership with the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC). The two institutions will provide funding and rapid operational assistance to the selected teams and startups alongside technology and business industry experts, including LoftyInc, ACIOE, Wennovation, Flutterwave, AGS Tribe, SilverChip Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, IROKOtv, Lakunle Runsewe, Manasseh Egedegbe, and also supported by Facebook.
“Due to the rapid spread of coronavirus, we really do not have a moment to lose, which is why we are grateful to have assembled such a talented and influential group of program partners and mentors, we look to move this very quickly,” Aina said.
The collaboration is aimed at finding talents including hackers, developers, enthusiasts or founders able to build solutions for the pandemic and experienced professionals in technology, public health and pandemic research, healthcare investment, public sector engagement, digital experience management, virtual care, entrepreneurship development, and support.
The talents will be discovered through the #COVID19InnovationChallenge. The challenge which has been extended to Monday 23 March 2020, specifically targets ideas around heat mapping, preventive or information bots, solutions to assist with lifestyle adjustments, COVID-19 reporting and more.
Six winners from the competition will receive a $2,000 equity-free grant, opportunity for further funding, as well as access to virtual workspace and mentorship from some of Africa’s top healthcare, business and technology leaders such as Rebecca Enonchong, Alexis Roman, O.O. Nwoye, Seun Onigbinde, Titi Akinsanmi, Ola Brown, Ifeanyi Nsofor, Ebi Ofrey, and Femi Kuti.
“We know the talent is out there, now our job is to provide an enabling environment as well as access to mentors and funding so that our chosen companies and innovators can focus on building the best solutions for this big challenge in support of the NCDC and other actors,” Aina said.
Since the announcement of the call for submissions, hundreds of responses have been sent in from various parts of Africa.
“It is important that the state tackles issues around the pandemic in areas such as tracking, managing and solving related problems even for various health issues at large,” said Olatunbosun Alake, Special Assistant to Lagos State Governor on Technology and Innovation and the head of LASRIC. “We believe that this partnership will help us source a number of products and services that will help the vast swathes of our population stay healthy and protected. We also believe that what works here in Lagos will help the rest of Africa.”