In some schools of thought, like the one to which Kevin Ready of Forbes belongs, funding for startups is not imperative to actual “starting up”.

To him, the continued decline in the technical costs of starting up are why startups can conveniently scale these days, even without formal funding.  But don’t completely take his word for it. In fact, some people think that is a load of bollocks (like this article by Seyi Taylor elsewhere on this site clearly highlights).

Even Kevin obliquely agrees when he hints at perhaps the only advantage of bootstrapping your startup.  Kevin says “when you don’t take on investors you get to keep control and all of the upside if you are successful”.

And if you are not successful?

If that is your fear, here are four places where you can raise funds to finance your startup without fears of having investors who chime in a bit too often. But you have to act fast, because the application windows on some of them are about to close.

Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF)

TEF was founded by Tony Elumelu, and is the plaform that in 2015 launched the TEF Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP). TEEP is a broad-based initiative that draws on Elumelu’s africapitalist philosophy. The programme aims to fund and support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years.

Applications into the program started on January 1st and are on for the next 3 months.

Airtel CAS

Airtel, with its Catapult-a-startup (CAS) initiative, is currently giving out 1 million Naira each to startups in the mobile and technology space. But no, they are not just handing it out on street corners. Airtel CAS aims to “catapult” startups with innovative and business-oriented ideas and all that is required for this competition is submission of a “great” idea. Apply here, but hurry — the deadline is the 25th of January.

Jim Ovia

Jim Ovia is more of a philanthropist. The many arms of his “Youth Empowerment and ICT foundation” – also called Jim Ovia foundation – is testament to this.

Of Jim Ovia foundation’s numerous programs, the Next Generation of ICT Entrepreneurs program (NGIEP) is the one squarely designed to support and promote startup ideas in the mobile space – and indeed has. His last working program on startups was in 2013 but Jim’s website has a litany of programs which are currently not open for application which we can expect would be open soon. Our advice — keep your eyes on this space.


Now in its fourth edition, the Nigerian government-sponsored YouWin entrepreneurship platform has given out entrepreneurship grants of between 1 to 10 Million naira to more than 2700 individual startups from the first two batches of entrepreneurs across the country.

Application to YouWIn is limited to “[entrepreneurs whose] business idea will operate in Nigeria and employ Nigerians”. By the end of YouWin 4, to which applications are currently on, more than 5,400  young entrepreneurs is being projected to have benefitted directly from the program. Perhaps you could be one of those.  Applications close January 30, 2015. Apply here.

Yemi Olutoye contributed to this feature.

Photo Credit: André M.Silvestre via Compfight cc

Gbenga Onalaja Author

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