The Development Bank of Nigeria Plc as part of its commitment to alleviating financial constraints and improving the capacity of SMEs in Nigeria recently held the first edition of its Techpreneur Summit in Lagos.
The Summit themed: ‘Starting Local, Scaling Global’, is aimed at driving conversation in the technology sector and accelerating its impact on the social-economic development of Nigeria, by creating jobs, improving the lives of people, and scaling up Nigeria’s tech presence globally.
Executive Director, Finance/Corporate Services, Mrs. Ijeoma Ozulumba, in her opening remarks at the summit said ‘the initiative will avail tech-based businesses and techie minds the platform to network and interact with investors as well as DBN Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) that can help with finance to actualize or scale up their business.
She emphasized that the Techpreneur Summit underscores the ambition of the Bank since it commenced operations in 2017.
According to her, “This underscore where our ambitions lie in creating a favorable space in the ecosystem for tech. The future is hinged on technology, so apart from the global trend, locally we continue to see that technology is now about 18% of GDP. ICT is the fastest-growing sector of the economy. Apart from that, technology and digital transformation is not just a megatrend, it underpins all the other megatrends in finance, engineering, and climate action which is topical right now.’’
On the Bank’s disbursement, she informed that “The Bank has since it started operations in 2017 given out loans to over 180,000 small businesses amounting to over N400b in various sectors of the economy and a lot of that is to tech-based start-ups. In 2020, DBN disbursed N190 billion, and 7,000 of those SMEs were accessing funding for the first time. This shows how important this event is to us, and the commitment of the Bank to alleviating the financing constraints faced by MSMSEs.”
Ozulumba added that “Our three-fold mandate is lending, providing partial credit guarantee, and capacity building. The capacity-building aspect is why we are having this summit today,”
Delivering his keynote address, serial investor and MD/Co-founder, Trans-Sahara Investment Corporation, and newly appointed MD/CEO Africa Operations, Inlaks Limited, Kyari Bukar tasked Nigerian techie minds and techpreneurs on developing knowledge-based local solutions that have a universal appeal and can put Nigerian on the global technology table.
“Technpreneurship is about finding solutions, and the solutions better be local and should also have universal appeal. What is happening globally is that factor-based economics are becoming irrelevant, I don’t mean they are dead, I am saying they are not exciting as they used to be. Today, everybody talks about a knowledge-based economy. The beauty of tech is that it is the number one catalyst in changing the way we do things. An example is the digitalization of the way we conduct business today,” he said.
Citing the exploits of India in the global technology landscape, the renowned investor, who started his career at the famous Silicon Valley further stated that Nigeria needs to stop relying on the wealth derived from mineral resources.
He said: “We need to change our dependence on what we pick or drill from the surface of the earth and believe that will make us wealthy, it is wrong. India is exporting $60b a year in software solutions and services. Though Africa is coming late to the party, we can develop unique solutions ourselves. The whole world is watching us and ready to invest in us. Whether the government is there or not, when you have the will to create and sell convenience, all you need are strong believers and support.”
Bukar who is also an Independent Director on the Board of DBN, appreciated the Bank for organizing the Techpreneur Summit, saying it showed the Bank’s readiness to partner techpreneurs in the county.
“For DBN, I say this Summit is the coming-out party in the tech space. This is one space I believe in, and we would continue to be a partner to Techpreneurs. And DBN is ready to be such a partner to all Techpreneurs in the country. This is the first DBN Techpreneur Summit, and I know that we will continue this every year. Additionally, when I asked around, I found out that this summit is not just about having a conversation like this, it is for Techpreneurs to find the necessary network, and more importantly access to finance on both sides of debt and equity. This shows that DBN is ready to be such a partner to all Techpreneurs in the country,” he said.
Other discussants at the summit include Iyin Aboyeji (Founder, Future Africa); Yemi Keri (co-Founder, RisingTideAfrica/ Independent Non-Executive Director, FCMB); Charles Anyanwu (Director, Strategy, Funding & Stakeholder Management, LSETF); Temie Giwa-Tubosun (Founder, Life Bank) and Judith Okonkwo (Founder, Imisi 3D).
The Development Bank of Nigeria Plc is a wholesale development finance institution, established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with global development partners (The World Bank, AfDB, KfW, AFD, and EIB) to address the major financing challenges facing Micro, Small, and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.