By: Michael Oluwagbemi, LoftyInc Allied Partners Ltd.
LoftyInc is a social enterprise in the business of advising and seeding start-ups and SMEs in social impact sectors of Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation and biggest economy, with 45% youth unemployment rate and enormous opportunities. Innovation in this environment is a necessity: it is the only path to survival for thousands of young people seeking a way out of despondency. Through two of our initiatives – LyfeCamp and Wennovation Hub, we are building vibrant communities of innovators in partnership with tertiary institutions and our non-government organizations. Since 2012, we’ve touched over 2,000 students through our WennoCamp, WennoHunt and WennoPlatform programs, seeded 8 start-ups and created over 75 high quality jobs in the process. In our LyfeCamp program which is designed to be a high paced business planning and implementation bootcamp that co-opts students from 50 universities, we reached over 200 students in 2014 and have selected 12 of them for social impact investments ranging from nutrition, eco-innovation and healthcare solutions. Some of the companies we seeded have gone on to commercial success or acquisition, but above all they are creating badly needed jobs and engagement for youths of our sprawling nation. Our strategic focus for the next two years is to craft services that target bottom of the pyramid SMEs including payment services, strategic product design services, back-end inventory management and ordering services among others. We are currently building a network of these SMEs across our channels this year and will look to begin launching some of these services in 2015.