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Connect Nigeria Sets to Host 7th Edition of Its Business Fair

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From L-R, Media Consultant, Connect Nigeria, Williams Uzomba; MD/Founder, Connect Nigeria, Emeka Okafor; Lead Strategist, Phyllion & Partners Limited, Ophylia Temi Ibekwe; Chief Marketing Officer, Lucy Ng, Jumoke Lawoyin (One of the many SME’s that have benefited from the Connect Nigeria Biz Fairs); Head Business Development, Connect Nigeria, Uzo Anekwe.

… As it introduces new social, technology skills to tackle economic challenges

Connect Nigeria is set to equip several thousand Small Medium Enterprises with social and technological innovation to grow their businesses amid current economic challenges during the 7th edition of its annual Business Fair, at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.

Chief Executive Officer, Connect Nigeria, Emeka Okafor, explained that lack of access to fund is not the only hurdle hindering the growth of the SMEs sector but operators’ unfamiliarity of socio and technology know-how to grow businesses in today’s tech-driven world.

Mr. Okafor, who spoke at the Pre-fair media parley in Lagos on Tuesday, said the technology-driven commerce and business-enabling platform is set to use the fair to aid access to required skills and partnerships for SMEs in the country, Africa and the rest of the world.

The 2019 edition of Connect Nigeria’s Business Fair themed GROW GLOBAL, will have key players in the economic, social and technology sectors in attendance and key note speeches will be delivered, as well as an interactive panel session. Some of the key speakers are Co-Founder, So Fresh limited, Mrs. Abimbola Balogun; Chief Executive Officer, Farmcrowdy limited, Mr. Onyeka Akumah; Co-Founder, Platform NG, Mrs. Uju Obuekwe; Managing Director, SB Telecoms, Mr. Afolabi Abiodun, and General Manager, Win-Win Kitchen Limited, Mrs. Florence Opawoye among others.

The fair, which will hold on April 26th and 27th 2019, at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, will also feature dedicated masterclasses that will be facilitated by pioneers in various industries, with hundreds of businesses exhibiting their products and services.

Okafor said, “Participants can explore the many business prospects available while entrepreneurs can learn the skills they need to grow their businesses in today’s tech-driven world. Taking part in the Exhibition positions participants as a reputable brand, because their goods and or services will be displayed, alongside brands from reputable companies.

“No product or service is off limits, participants should ensure the packaging is presentable. Over the years, there have been products and services ranging from Banking solutions to Fashion & Beauty, Catering services, Real Estate, Online Marketing hubs, Telecoms, ICT solution Providers, Booksellers, and Media Houses among others.”

The Connect Nigeria boss, who said that there will be a segment specifically for ‘Made In Nigeria’ goods including handcraft, added that the fair is dedicated to promoting business for SMEs, assisting Nigerian businesses achieve global competitiveness, empowering thousands of business owners, start-ups, and aspiring entrepreneurs, enabling them to fast-track the growth of their businesses by leveraging the power of technology.

“United Nations projected that the country’s population would increase to 300 million by 2050 and a good number of these people are entrepreneurs. If we sustain this platform like we have continued to, it will affect the economy positively, especially when the population increases further,” he said.

According to the Head Marketing & Strategy, Rack Centre, Mrs Ejieke Maduka Ezeadiugwu who was also present at the parley, she lauded the organizers of the Business Fair stating that equipping SMEs with the necessary technology and entrepreneurial skills as obtainable at the business fair sets the economy up for industrialisation, poverty alleviation, youth development, Foreign Direct Investment generation and SME development.

She said, “I urge the federal government to boost its capacity, competence, and legitimacy to mobilise and interact with all stakeholders, thereby creating an attractive investment climate for businesses to succeed in Nigeria.”

Director-General, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Joyce Akpata, who was also at the event, explained that other skills most Nigerian SMEs lack are their inability to clearly define roles and responsibilities, separate ownership and management of the entity and preparation of financial records among others.

She said, “The necessary reforms will open the way for public-private partnerships, which can provide investment for infrastructure development and maintenance. Government should facilitate cooperation with other international organisations and development finance institutions that can provide additional funds, while helping countries like Nigeria upgrade its productive capacity.”

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Investment

Fatura secures a $3 Million pre-series A investment round

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Fatura co-Founders (Source: Hossam Ali)

Fatura round was co-led by Sawari Ventures and Arzan VC, with the participation of Egypt Ventures, EFG-EV, The Cairo Angels as well as Khwarizmi Ventures. The B2B marketplace was launched late 2019 and already crossed the 1 Billion EGP yearly GMV milestone, and that’s just in the FMCG sector. Fatura is a mobile application that connects wholesalers & manufacturers with retailers in different industries. The start-up has been operating in the FMCG industry and it is currently piloting in other industries.

During the past year the start-up also extended its reach to more than 25,000 retailers and more than  500 wholesalers and manufacturers across 20 governorates, exchanging more than 10,000 SKUs. Fatura also cracked the surface of financial services by introducing digital lending with focus on retailers financing, aiming to add more services in that area in the near future.

“Fatura’s existing infrastructure has enabled them to expand their offerings to new customers,” commented Hany Al-Sonbaty, Managing Partners at Sawari Ventures, adding that, “the team has demonstrated that they have the vision to identify new opportunities and the prowess and agility to implement and deliver. We are excited to become part of their journey.”

Hossam Ali, Fatura’s CEO, commented on the news saying: “There is a great opportunity in the B2B space in Egypt, that is growing as the players are becoming digitally mature and ready. Collectively, the digital B2B players in the FMCG space capture less than 5% of the market and there is a long way to go. Our conviction is to stay asset-light, be inclusive to all the industry stakeholders and to attract the best on-ground acquisition force across the country”

Fatura has built a strong foundation and infrastructure that enables it to monetize its data and services. The company’s future plans include new services that support the different players in its ecosystem including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, multiple digitization initiatives with focus on digital payments and regional expansion into new markets.

“Being part of Fatura’s success story is exciting for us. The FMCG industry is in need of Fatura’s product, which will solve many challenges faced by small retailers. Also, its fintech angle complements the core product and enables retailers to scale their business further with less working capital constraints.” – Hasan J. Zainal, Managing Partner of Arzan Venture Capital

This investment will gear Fatura to extend its services beyond e-commerce and digital lending to optimize the exchange of goods, money and information in the B2B context while focusing on convenience and the different users’ experience.

 

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Business Africa Online, InnoPower and Afrigrants to Host some of the best African, USA Innovators and Investors

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Business Africa Online, InnoPower, LLC (USA) and Afrigrants Foundation are set to Host some of the best Innovators, Investors, Business Consultants and Industry Experts in the world at the Going Global Summit with the theme, “Africa: The Next Global Frontier”. The summit is a part of InnoPower Minority Business Week (IMBW) hosted by Innopower, LLC (USA) scheduled to hold from Monday, June 14 to Friday, June 18, 2021 and currently ongoing.

The Going Global Initiative intends to boost a stronger pipeline of awareness, access to Africa’s talent and solutions with these focus areas; Entrepreneurship, Connection and Advocacy. The InnoPower Going Global Summit 2021 is a digital summit and intends to connect Africa to the global economy, starting with the USA. It will attract global business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, decision and policy makers around the world, especially from Africa and the United States of America (U.S.A). The Summit will feature panel sessions, virtual pitch, awards and networking.

Panel Discussion Topics will cover:

  1. Positioning African entrepreneurs for global exposure and impact.
  2. Raising Global Capital: Understanding the Why, When and How.
  3. Post COVID-19: Exploring US-Africa Investment Opportunities.

Esteemed Guests include:

  • Dr. Akintoye Akindele (Nigeria) – Executive Chairman, Platform Capital
  • Lawrence Walter (USA) – Vice President, Entrepreneurship at IEDC
  • Ayodeji Balogun (Nigeria)– Founder and CEO of Premier Credit
  • Lydia Idem (USA) – Founder & Managing Director of FM Capital Group
  • Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes (Nigeria) – Founding Partner & CEO, Aruwa Capital Management
  • Nike Anani (Nigeria) – Founder, Nike Anani Practice Ltd
  • Ali Hussein Kassim (Kenya) – Tech Executive and Advisor
  • Mohamed Aboulnaga  (Egypt) – Tech Entrepreneur
  • Shila Nieves Burney (USA) – Founder, Zane Venture Fund & Zane Access
  • Segun Abiona (Nigeria) – Founder & Innovation Director, Nicole & Giovanni
  • Manisha Dookhony (Mauritius) – Economist & Senior Advisor
  • Sherif Nessim (Egypt) – Founder & Managing Director, Jedar Capital
  • Linda Wayoe (Ghana) – Director, AM Group & Board Member UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce
  • Mariam Kamel (Egypt) – Manager, AUC Angels
  • Horesia Nyawade (South Africa) – CIO & Co-Founder, Vuuqa
  • Muhammida El Muhajir (Ghana) – Global Brand Strategist

Conceptualised by Afrigrants Foundation, Pitch School Africa is an annual youth entrepreneurship event  that trains young entrepreneurs on how to pitch their business ideas to potential investors. Over 200 students across Africa participated in the Pitch School Africa 2021 stream, which has now been narrowed down to just 4 BIG ideas that will be featured at the Grand Finale. The 4 Finalists that will pitch their business ideas at the 2021 InnoPower Going Global are; Gualo Confidence (Nigeria) – Gualocian fish processing, Budani Bulayani (Botswana) – Budzi Products, Favour Adeleke (Nigeria) – Qiqi Farms and Oluwatomilola Mustapha (Nigeria) – Raytreat.

The Pitch Jury are;

  1. Ronda Taylor, PhD Department Chair Entrepreneur Program, Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana.
  2. Dr. Kristin Burton Asst. Professor, Entrepreneurship, College of Business, Purdue University.
  3. Joe Albano, Principal Logika International LLC.

The winner will be awarded the grand prize of $5000 with a one year mentorship from the finest business developers across the world.

Awards

Over the past 12 months, businesses have faced remarkable challenges due to global economic meltdown and the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Many ventures were forced to shut their doors through legislation and other circumstances. Some managed to survive by thinking out of the box and adapting to the changing and dire times. Business Africa Online (BAO) with the support of InnoPower, LLC (USA) will be recognising and awarding three (3) African resilient startups that have pulled out all the steps to grow back better through the pandemic in Africa. The awardees will get a support grant of $500 each with an acceleration program led by global business developers.

“Our strategic partnership with InnoPower, LLC (USA) is to support and further drive its Going Global Initiatives here in Africa. Also to reaffirm our commitment to connect African entrepreneurs and businesses with US-based investors. We are inspired and motivated everyday by the incredible African (Social) entrepreneurs and investors within our community and their desire to impact the world positively.” says Alaba Ayinuola, Founder & CEO of Business Africa Online

To register for this virtual summit, please visit bit.ly/InnoPowerGoingGlobal2021

 

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AI for Good Global Summit founder Stephen Ibaraki confirmed as AI Expo Africa 2021 keynote speaker

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AI for Good Global Summit founder, Stephen Ibaraki (Source: AI Expo Africa)

AI for Good Global Summit founder, Chairman of the AI for Good Outreach Committee, industry analyst, venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE which takes place 7th to 9th September.

Ibaraki is the first VIP keynote speaker to be confirmed for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE. In his keynote address, entitled, “5th Machine Age Driving Digital Reshaping” he intends to explore the “Society 5.0” and “Smart Humanity”.

Ibaraki who is a 16 time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award, most recently in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) category, is also the chairman and managing general partner of REDDS Capital. In addition to more than 300 awards and recognitions as well as over 300 global engagements impacting over $100-trillion in sustainable investments, Ibaraki is also a contributor for IT World Canada and Forbes on issues around AI.

Ibaraki’s keynote abstract states, “In popular stories about Chaos Theory, the wing beats of a butterfly in Geneva, are connected to the violent storms in your hometown in Africa. Global ecosystems, all interconnected thus force multiplied and amplified, are at an historical inflection point. These are founded on technology acceleration, with more disruption in 5 years, than the last 10,000 years. This Digital Reshaping will forever change governments, industry, academia, education, investments, startups, media, society, culture, our lives and our children’s future. What will the world look like, advanced by Smart Humanity, Society 5.0, 5th Machine Age, AI and innovation trends addressing global challenges and opportunities? What are the exponential change making innovations you must track, implement, and resources you must use to ensure success and not failure during these chaotic next five years?

Now entering it’s fourth successful year, AI Expo Africa is Africa’s largest B2B / B2G AI, RPA and 4IR smart tech trade event and conference, with the 2021 edition building to be the biggest yet with over 5000 delegates registering interest and expected to join the three-day online event.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, founder of AI Expo Africa and CEO of AI Media Group commented, “It’s a real honour to welcome Stephen as one of our VIP keynote speakers.  We have been working with the ITU, Geneva since 2019 around partnering with the global AI4Good movement and the Africa region and this is another great commitment towards growing collaborations around AI4Good in our region. This announcement follows the recent conclusion of the first African focused ITU AI4Good Innovation Factory Challenge that received 44 applications from 12 African countries & 5 finalists using AI-powered innovation for diverse sectors in Africa covering Fintech, Agritech, Cleantech, and Insurtech.”

Over 30 organisations have so far signed up to exhibit at the expo. These include headline event partner Intel, Darktrace, Future Tech, Automation Anywhere partner 1ai, The Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, InstaDeep, Aizatron, IBA Group, Zindi, Versus, Comparisure, Robotiq AI Africa, ecosystem Ai, Cognizance, Inspired Testing, Atura, Amathuba AI, COGO People Analytics, Elzware, WizzPass, Fliptin, Kosa AI, Learning Machines, Social Lab, Ashanti AI, and Curacel.  In all about 80 speakers will make up the speaker list at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE, with more keynotes set to be announced in the coming weeks.

 

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