Accelerating Youth-Led Enterprises in Nigeria

Jul 2018

This knowledge brief seeks to capture information about incubators and accelerators in Nigeria and how they support youth-led enterprises. The brief was developed using Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) data alongside interviews and stakeholder meetings held in Lagos and Abuja with support from Oxfam in Nigeria.

Data Highlights:

  • Most accelerated ventures are led by youth (defined as ages 18-35). Youth-led teams made up 58% of all applicants to accelerator programs and 64% of participating ventures.
  • These youth-led ventures were less established at application.
  • In general, few teams had raised equity or debt financing.
  • Youth-led teams had invested less of their own funds.
  • Most youth-led ventures are run by first-time CEOs.
  • Regardless of age, entrepreneurs in Nigeria are hoping to get direct funding from accelerator programs.

Recommendations for the Sector:

  • Rethink the value of accelerators. Educating and advocating for the role of incubators and accelerators will create a more trusting environment for entrepreneurs. Efforts should be geared towards creating awareness within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Emphasize non-financial support. Shifting the mindset away from solely direct funding to the additional benefits that these programs provide will also help reorient entrepreneurs to focus on the value of non-financial support.
  • Provide accountability and follow up. When giving grants, accelerators and incubators should consider making payments in tranches and providing follow-up services after the program ends to build in accountability.
  • Coordinate across the ecosystem. Entrepreneurs should be able to move fluidly through the ecosystem of support as they grow. For example, accelerators and incubators need to connect more effectively to investors, and pre-incubation services (such as through a university) can help prepare young students to navigate the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Attract mentors and build skills. Connections to skilled role models is especially important for young founders without much experience. In addition, program curriculum should expose entrepreneurs to legal standards, proper accounting and book keeping, monitoring and evaluation, while also supporting their development of effective business communications and other soft skills.
  • Cultivate the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. As much as it is advisable to gain insights from best practices abroad, Nigerian accelerators and incubators should also focus on tailoring programs to meet local needs. There is also opportunity to better self-reflect and foster a culture of continual improvement by measuring impact and using this data to improve programs.
  • Effective advocacy. Accelerators should endeavor to continuously advocate government and private partnerships.