By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Diamond Bank has thrown its weight behind the Federal Government in a renewed drive to unlock the huge creative potential of technology Start-Ups in Nigeria and stimulate massive growth and development in the information technology sector.
Business Post learnt that the project is part of the Bank’s commitment to drive and develop capacity in the IT segment of the economy, and help stimulate creative solutions amongst young IT entrepreneurs in the country.
The initiative, tagged ‘Aso Villa Demo Day’ is aimed at encouraging economic diversification, celebrating creativity and innovation by young Nigerians.
It climaxed with the unveiling of thirty world-class IT start-ups at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The event was attended by a host of eminent personalities including the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, the Chairman of Diamond Bank Plc, Dr. Chris Ogbechie, the Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu.
In his address, the Vice President lauded the Bank and other supporters, stating that the Federal Government is discussing the possibility of a partnership with Facebook in a bid to improve the Information Communication Technology connectivity in Africa.
According to him, the federal government has resolved to anchor Nigeria’s development around energy, innovation and creativity of its young people.
Three of the 30 start-up businesses earlier shortlisted in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja were eventually selected and given a cash prize of N3 million each.
Addressing the IT start ups, the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg said it was inspiring to see what Nigerian youths have been able to do with technology.
“This has really blown me away by the talent of the entrepreneurs and young developers in this country, particularly by the focus to build something that’s going to make a difference and bring change. This is not going to be better for Nigeria and Africa alone, but the whole world. I am blown away by what you are doing. I believe in you. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do”, Zuckerberg stated.
Reiterating the Vice President, Diamond Bank Chairman, Dr. Ogbechie pointed that the Bank is very passionate about the development of IT capacity in the country, adding that strong IT backbone will guarantee sustainable economic growth and development.
According to him, any country that downplays the value and place of information technology in economic development will soon become irrelevant in the comity of nations.
The Presidency created the “Aso Villa Demo Day” as a platform to spur youths in the country to seek creative solutions to challenges and boost technology growth and development.
Three of the 30 Nigerian IT Start-ups among the hundreds that pitched at three different events in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt in June were selected and honoured at the event.
The top three winners received N3 million each as grant to develop and grow their ideas. The start-ups include Tracology, a patented smart payment system for utility companies; RecyclePoints, a waste recycling and social benefit venture for sustainable development and Shuttlers, a multi-staff bus service created to assist commuters resolve daily transport challenges in big cities.