In furtherance of its resolve to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups in Nigeria, Keystone Bank Limited, a fast-growing financial services provider, has unveiled ‘The Keystone Startup Advantage Programme (KSA Programme)’, a specialized incubator scheme with offerings to address the needs of startup businesses.
A statement by the lender on Monday said the move was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the growth of the SMEs sector and aligns with the United Nations Envision #2030 Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 8 – to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
According to the bank: “Recent reports reveal an increasing attraction of foreign Venture Capital investment into the African startup ecosystem, with Nigeria boasting of the largest number of startups in Africa.” In 2019, Africa’s venture capital investments rose to an all-time high. According to Partech, 234 African tech companies raised $2.02 billion in 250 equity rounds. This indicated a 74% increase from 2018’s figure of $1.16 billion raised by 146 startups in 164 rounds. 2021 witnessed increased venture capital funding in African startups between $2.25 billion and $2.8 billion. As of August 2021, a national newspaper published a report that Nigerian startups raised $276.5m within seven months.
There is a growing interest from several foreign investors who are keen on investing in Nigeria’s digital economy given the nation’s ranking as one of the leading startup ecosystems in Africa.
“These recent trends have led to the passing of Nigeria’s Startup Bill (NSB), set to leverage ICT platforms to create jobs while ensuring that the diversification of the economy creates more support to other emerging sectors.”
In his comments, the Divisional Head, Retail, SME & Value Chain Division, Keystone Bank, Anayo Nwosu, said capacity building remains key for the growth and development of SMEs, adding that SMEs in every part of the world are the livewire of the economy. “Like in every economy of the world, SMEs are the lifelines. They contribute significantly to the economy’s GDP, creation of jobs and wealth, economic prosperity, and of course, all these details to economic growth and development,” he explains.
There are so many challenges associated with birthing a business in the country but by plugging into the ideas and experiences shared by experts in the industry at this training and also the grants, the sky is their starting point.
“Through the programme, it is our vision as a bank to impact 100 startups annually and up to 1,000 startups in the next five to ten years”. Nwosu further disclosed that the KSA programme, a three to four-month Investor Readiness scheme, will adopt a blended approach, as it will offer a hybrid option with virtual and physical sessions.
He also added that three successful SMEs/startups from the programme will win a N3 million grant each to support their business operations. “The modules will be both tutor-led, and self-study modules within a friendly e-learning platform. It will be an intensive programme designed to have groups as well as one-on-one mentoring and coaching sessions during the period.
“The programme will serve as a platform to connect innovative SMEs and tech startups with potential investors.
“Startups will also be able to get the knowledge and skills needed to fast track their business to the next growth phase.”
“The programme will be premiered on January 24th & 25th 2022 with an Open Day webinar tagged – BUILDING SUSTAINABLE STARTUPS. Applications will open on January 31st for interested and eligible tech startups & SMEs with innovative ideas, solutions and business methods to submit entries.”
“All the information needed to learn more about the programme, its opening webinar and how to apply are available on the bank’s website,” he concluded.
Keystone Bank is a technology and service-driven commercial bank offering convenient and reliable solutions to its customers.