L-R: Ambassador Adeyemi Dipeolu, Senior Special Adviser to the President on the Economy; Eliot Pence, Executive Director of the US-Nigeria Council; Kola Aina, Founding Partner of Ventures Platform; Dr. Yewande Sadiku, CEO of Nigerian Investment Promotion Council.

Nigeria-based early stage VC firm, Ventures Platform, is turning out to be one of the more prolific investors in the Nigerian tech ecosystem. With a respectable lineup of investments and arguably enough pedigree to move the proverbial needle of Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, the firm is not stopping just yet.

Instead, it has launched the Corporate Leaders Fund, in partnership with the US-Nigeria Council (USNC). Announced on the sidelines of the just concluded tour of Silicon Valley by Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and a host of Nigerian tech entrepreneurs/stakeholders, the Corporate Leaders Fund is aimed at backing proven entrepreneurs with domain expertise building innovative startups to solve enterprise challenges. But that’s not all.

According to a Ventures Platform press release, “Investee companies will be strategically aligned with objectives of the fund’s corporate backers who are primarily members of the US-Nigeria Council. The Ventures Platform – USNC Corporate Leaders Fund will target post-MVP stage companies, investing up to $250,000 initially, with the potential to follow on in later rounds.”

Interestingly, participation in the fund will be by select corporate partners, leaders and executives of major Nigerian organizations and members of the US-Nigeria Council, giving Nigeria’s top corporates (who have been long criticized of not investing enough/properly in the ecosystem) an opportunity to invest in the next generation of Nigerian startups that will shape the future of the tech ecosystem and Nigeria at large.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to get Nigerian corporations and corporate leaders involved in supporting the inevitable future, and we’re pleased to partner with such an important organization as the US-Nigeria Council to make this journey possible,” said Kola Aina, Founding Partner at Ventures Platform.

Another interesting element of this fund is the kind of startups its targeted at. One of the toughest stages of a startups life cycle [anywhere] is between the post-MVP stage and and when it needs to scale – many a Nigerian startup have died in that valley between product and scale. Granted Ventures Platform and a couple other investors already target this segment, but much more is needed.

So, what exactly does all of this mean?  Well, for starters there’ll be a better managed pipeline for Nigeria’s corporates (and other private investors) to actively participate in the Nigerian tech ecosystem via investment, mentorship, capacity building and market access.

According to USNC Executive Director, Eliot Pence, “We see the partnership with Ventures Platform as an important step towards USNC’s mission of advancing US-Nigerian commercial relations. The fund will further align the interests of corporations with entrepreneurs and investors. Ultimately, our goal with this partnership is to deepen, diversify and develop the commercial activity in the tech ecosystem and accelerate investor outcomes. We’re thrilled to work with Ventures Platform to advance that.”

For startups that can get investment from the fund, chances of getting through to scale are much higher. On the ecosystem side, everyone wins because not only is there US access (via USNC), there is will also be a trove of substantial knowledge transfer and value creation. This is especially important because the funding gap the Corporate Leaders Fund targets is one area that needs more local participation and critical support systems (which the fund will provide asides money).

To apply for funding from the Corporate Leaders Fund (or any of Ventures Platform’s funds), click here.

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