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Google to support Nigeria SMBs with N75M

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By Usman Oladimeji

Emphasis is on equipping enterprises with the necessary skills to secure funds.

IT giant, Google has recently open the application process for the Hustle Academy Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) Fund, an exclusive fund amounting to a substantial N75 Million equity-free fund. By taking this step, Google is demonstrating its unwavering dedication to SMBs in Nigeria and encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit. Nigerian economy relies heavily on its small and medium-sized businesses, which often confront obstacles, the most pressing of which is the lack of access to adequate capital. The World Bank estimates that African SMEs are facing a $330 billion funding shortage.

There is also limited access to bank loans, excepting only 25 percent of SMBs in Africa compared to more advanced economies where about 50 percent have the access. The Hustle Academy initiative launched by Google in 2022, offers SMEs a comprehensive business and management education, mentoring, and networking. Notably, the initiative places a significant emphasis on equipping these enterprises with the skills necessary to effectively present and position their ventures, thereby enabling them to secure funds required for propelling their businesses for further growth

Nigeria SMB community would benefit greatly from this fund.

More than four thousand small and medium-sized businesses in Nigeria have graduated from the programme since it commenced, with 74 percent of those businesses reporting significant growth in their first year. The Hustle Academy Fund capitalizes on the positive outcomes of the Hustle Academy programme by allocating 75 million naira to provide non-dilutive capital to 15 Nigerian small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). This dedication is bolstered by specific mentoring to help set up these companies for maximum success.

Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Google’s Head of Brand & Reputation for Sub-Saharan Africa, stated that the Hustle Academy Fund shows the tenacity and creativity of Nigerian small enterprises, which are the engine of the country’s economy. She voiced hope that the Nigerian small business community would benefit greatly from this fund, boost the economy and provide more possibilities for all Nigerians to find gainful employment. Google’s Product Marketing Manager and Hustle Academy Programme Lead Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf noted that the Hustle Academy Fund offers the SMBs with required resource

Firms must be Nigerian-founded to qualify for the fund.

According to Sinmisola, the organization is helping SMBs thrive by providing them with equity-free funding, mentorship, and chances to gain exposure and network. She added that the Hustle Academy Fund is an integral aspect of the company’s dedication to bolstering Nigerian burgeoning startup scene. However, in order to qualify for the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, firms must be Nigerian-founded, have been in operation in Nigeria for one to five years, and have a solid, prospective business strategy. Also, they need to have a history of growth commitment, work in industries that relate with the digital economy, or have a strategy to facilitate digital transformation.

Previous enrollment in the programme is an advantage but not required. The Hustle Academy Fund application period opened on September 28 and will close on October 12. SMBs in Nigeria have a great chance to expand their operations owing to this programme, which will aid them secure the resources needed to flourish. It serves as a way for Google to invest in the development of major businesses and sectors. The IT giant has recently launched an AI-first accelerator for African startups, with the goal of assisting those businesses in making effective use of AI to address pressing issues on the continent.

All early-stage African entrepreneurs up to Series A stage are eligible.

The equity-free, 10-week programme is available to all early-stage African entrepreneurs up to the Series A stage that are developing solutions with an African focus and are employing cutting-edge AI and ML technologies. In July, the company announced the third batch of the Black Founders Fund, which will invest in 25 African startups. By giving equity-free grants and mentoring to early-stage Black-led high-growth enterprises across Europe and Africa, the Black Founders Fund programme aims to reduce the racial disparity in access to venture capital funding.

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