Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has had a busy time, so far, in Lagos. He visited Co-Creation Hub (Cc Hub), Nigeria’s leading technology incubator-turned-accelerator Lagos’s Yaba neighborhood, a Silicon Valley-style ground zero. While there he watched kids code and met with start-up founders. He’s visited Andela, a coding start-up backed by Chan Zuckerberg Institute, the foundation he started along with his wife, Priscilla Chan. He’s even gone on for a jog on Lagos’ popular Lekki Ikoyi bridge.
For many tech savvy Nigerians, his visit is an epochal moment in the evolution of the local tech ecosystem and serves to validate the work put in by founders and facilitators over the past decade. Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji, an original co-founder of Andela and one of several long-time advocates of Nigeria’s tech startup ecosystem said Zuckerberg’s visit was a game-changer which is not without precedent for Silicon Valley interest in Nigeria.
Temie Giwa-Tunbosun, founder of LifeBank, a start-up that matches blood donors with their needs, was one of those who met with Zuckerberg. “I explained the idea of our business to Mark and he mentioned that it had potential to scale globally,” she said.
Working out of Cc Hub for the past year, Temie believes Mark’s understanding and endorsement of her work will fuel her team as she continues building Lifebank. “Mark’s visit is validation for years of work and everything we’re trying to do,” she told Quartz. On a larger scale, Temie also says the visit draws attention to the fact that Nigerians “are solving problems and building important companies and businesses which can scale globally.”
While it invigorates the local tech scene, Zuckerberg’s visit will also resonate outside Nigeria. One of the world’s leading technologists visiting Africa’s leading tech ecosystem is bound to turn heads back in his Silicon Valley base.
One of the possible offshoots of the visit could be an uptick in start-up funding by foreign investors. Increased funding for local start-ups will boost founders who have been predominantly forced to bootstrap businesses, and change a crucial statistic: angel investment and venture capital accounts for only 12% of start-up funding on the continent.
At a town hall meeting on Aug. 31, Zuckerberg acknowledged the strides made by local tech developers and entrepreneurs. But crucially, the Facebook founder acknowledged that the story of Nigeria’s tech industry is “under-appreciated across the world.” His visit, however, could go a long way in changing that.
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