Startups Africa, which describes itself as an enterprise development programme is looking to fund and support high-growth businesses. Among the elibility requirements for startups that would like to participate, one stands out and forms the programme’s basic premise. Intending businesses have to come from Surulere, Lagos. Hence the name “Surulere Startups”.
Why Surulere? There is some personal bias in the matter. Red Media founder, Chude Jideonwo was born there, and went on to establish his business in the same locale. Surulere Startups started as a personal project backed by Red Media in April 2014 in which ten entrepreneurs were mentored. On the heels of the traction and feedback from that initial effort, Startups Africa was created to run a more aggressive second instalment in the last quarter of 2014.
Local affinities aside, Surulere is a vibrant commercial and residential area and its adjacence to the growing Yaba technology cluster together with all the strategic advantages that come from its location make it a sound investment bet for this purpose. Simplistic as it might be, I have always treated Yaba and Surulere as one and the same business community.
However, the programme’s branding suggests that Surulere will not be the only locale that the programme will target going forward. Chude confirms it, and says that building entrepreneurs across communities in the continent is the programme’s value proposition.
How it works – entrepreneurs/businesses apply to participate (deadline for entries is 10th October, 2014). Ten startups are selected. After an eight week incubation process, three of these will be ajudged winners of the cohort by an expert panel. The kernel of the prize is $15,000, along with media and business support.
It gets more interesting. The whole Surulere Startups programme will be televised for 8 weeks, making it for all intents and purposes a reality tv show. Although the organisers would prefer that you thought of it as simply as a televised bootcamp rather than reality tv because according to them, the show focuses on the business rather than drama. Anyhow, if it approaches anything near the quality of Techstars, it should make for great viewing. According to Chude, the media element is the devise by which they intend for the knowledge and resources from the boot camp to reach thousands of young people.
The organisers are however yet to reveal what the funding terms are, or indeed who the fund’s principals are, so it is not clear at this time if the benefits that accrue to the winning businesses will be consideration-free grants, or will be given in exchange for equity.
To qualify, participating entrepreneurs must be no more than 35 years old, be African in origin, have a business either based in/around Surulere or with a founder who grew up in /around Surulere (Yaba, Ijeshatedo, Mushin, Shomolu) and the business should have no more than $30,000 in annual turnover.
Eligibility is not exclusive to technology, and indeed, nowhere is technology mentioned. If you fit the description or know any entrepreneur/business that does, here is how to apply.