The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Civic Foundation for Innovation (CFI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today at the UNDP office in Abuja. The MoU was signed to launch an innovation and entrepreneurship program which was officially endorsed last week by the United Nations.
According to Mr Lucky Musonda, the communications specialist of the UNDP, a lot of consultations and discussions among tech and innovation hubs across the country preceded the decision to sign the MoU.
The collaboration was to seek areas of collaboration towards national development. He assured that the government is committed to development and innovation. as a tool to launch a project which will facilitate larger involvement of the Private Sector in development initiatives while boosting corporate results and return on investment.
The MOU was signed by Mr. Samuel Bwalya, Country Director of UNDP Nigeria, and Mr.Mosope Olaosebikan, Founder of Civic Foundation for Innovation. The collaboration was the first MoU signed in the Entrepreneurship Program of the UNDP. Mr Samuel stated that it was a great opportunity to amplify the impact that Civic Foundation for Innovation was making. With CFI, UNDP will have the much needed reach to support indigenous entrepreneurs and ingenious solutions needed to meet the millennial Sustainable Development Goals.
He highlighted five key objectives of the partnership that forms the framework of all projects to be embarked on. The first objective is for the two organizations to promote innovation in the country. This in turn will be harnessed as a vehicle for driving advancement of SDGs. The uniqueness of indigenous innovations and entrepreneurship skills will be integrated into the implementation of SDGs from the federal level.
Another key objective of the alliance was to promote access to finance for innovators. The CD recognized finance as the biggest challenge of start-ups in Nigeria. According to him, many people with bright ideas have the mindset of financial isolation thus hindering further scaling. Apart from providing financial support for innovators, the National Innovation Awards, a platform for promoting and rewarding entrepreneurship will be launched.
Finally, the collaboration will see the two organizations work towards capacity building for new hubs to come on board. Mr Samuel expressed his fascination from his two visits to the Civic Innovation Lab’s facility at Wuse 2, Abuja.
At the point of signing the document, Mr Mosope Olaosebikan, Founder of Civic Foundation for Innovation expressed his happiness and readiness to get on the projects outlined. “The primary focus of our organization is innovation for development and we adopted the SDGs as a framework. We support start-ups that are SDG inclined. In the early months of the hub, we supported a number of start-ups with roughly three thousand US Dollars. We also had the UN Envoy on Youths, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake visit us at the hub.
We strive to build a community of young innovators and entrepreneurs, offering them work spaces at a giveaway rate just to support their dreams and see their ideas take flight. We organize leaning programs and mentorship platforms where they can extract safe and reliable guidelines and coordinates on their road to success. One other key commitment we have is to innovate for the government. Seeing that beyond finances, favourable policies are important in the growth of any business in a country. Policies should not choke, but rather should foster their growths. Civic Innovation Lab has organized big projects like the Aso Villa Demo Day in 2016 which has attracted over three million dollars in investment for the participants and the ongoing Student Innovation Challenge which was officially opened by the Vice President of Nigeria last week. We have seen tremendous innovations coming out of universities. From now on whatever is a priority for UNDP is a priority for Civic Foundation for Innovation”