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On Wednesday 18th July 2018, Network of Incubators and Innovators in Nigeria (NINe) hosted Acumen West Africa Hub Tour.

 Acumen is an international non-profit investment organization. The event availed Acumen West Africa team the opportunity to meet with Hub owners, Start-ups, Entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the Abuja innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Acumen in the last fifteen years has invested over $110 million in breakthrough innovations with 102 countries serving low-income customers within 13 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. with a major focus on post-seed to scale opportunities especially in the Agriculture and Renewable Energy space.

The event began with an introduction of Acumen and Acumen West Africa by the Business Operations and Programs Coordinator, Mercy Olorunfemi. 

Oluwatoyin Emmanuel-Olubake, Associate Director, Acumen West Africa then delivered a detailed speech on Acumen’s mission, vision, their achievements in the last fifteen years and their plans for Nigeria.

He gave audience to key players in the Northern entrepreneurial ecosystem who would like to work closely with the investment organisation and receive financial support. He highlighted Acumen’s interest in companies that create sustainable solutions in the Nigerian Ecosystem and gave clear answers to questions concerning investment opportunities in agriculture and its fellowship program.

We had present, representatives from Ventures Platform Foundation, Blue Sapphire Hub, Insiteful Solutions, Aiivon Innovation Hub, Techspecialist Academy, Passion Incubator,  Enspire Incubator Hub, InstaR Solutions NG, Co- Farms, Cavic Hub, Axe Capital NG and a mix of young entrepreneurs in the agriculture and renewable energy space.

At the end of the meeting, Bankole Oloruntoba, founder, Network of Incubators and Innovators in Nigeria (NINe) and Executive Director, Enspire Incubators gave the closing remark, insights into NINE’s plan for hubs in Nigeria and appreciated everyone for coming.



Business hubs have mushroomed in the past five years partly because of governments’ measures to support small enterprises. They provide office space and facilities at a low rent, combined with networking opportunities and advice to new ventures through the tricky early stages. Some are privately run for a profit, some are managed by universities and others are run by local authorities, or charities.

Founder NINe, Bankole Oloruntoba, said there are opportunities for business hubs with unemployed youths looking for avenues to polish their entrepreneurial skills, or learn more about marketing or business models.

Oloruntoba is brimming with confidence having seen the organisation’s entrepreneurship programme aimed at creating new businesses yielding results.
The organisation has completed an intensive entrepreneurship and business training course in Abuja to accelerate the development of a hub management system that will help create new young entrepreneurs and Continue Reading keep reading


The Hub Management 101 is an event tailored for hubs looking to transition from pre-incubation to full acceleration and incubation, stakeholders in the hub society, aspiring government officials and hub owners who are interested in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The maiden edition kicked-off on Wednesday June 20th, 2018 with registration and then introduction of Hub managers, intending hub owners and entrepreneurs by Mercy Olorunfemi. Present were representatives from Aiivon Innovation Hub, Insiteful Solutions, Enspire Incubator, Ventures Foundation, The Nation Newspaper, Blue Sapphire hub, Aspillos Foundation, Olotu Square, Afrilabs, nHub Nigeria, Young Innovators, and Digital Solutions International.

The first session was facilitated by the Founder of Network of Incubators and Innovators in Nigeria, Bankole Oloruntoba. In his first module, he differentiated between a co-working space and an incubation hub. He highlighted activities these two carry out in maintaining accelerated growth and impact in the lives of people in the innovation ecosystem. Further on, he discussed on the various start-up stages where he said there are several stages a start-up must pass through. They include the idea stage, early stage, growth stage, pivot stage, late stage and mature stage.  He opined that a hub manager must be able to listen, be empathetic and have the ability to bring resources together. In setting up a hub, he disclosed that there are seven major focus types. They include industry specifics, gender/mixed specifics, age specifics, commercial/developmental, challenge specifics and virtual/physical.

Later on Nkoyo Efretei, a Human Resource expert from Insiteful Solutions had a group session with participants on how to identify their purpose (vision and mission). In identifying these, the questions to be answered were; what will personal success mean to you? What will hub success mean to you? What obstacles are freaking you out? To buttress on this, Emmanuel Ihim, a Human Resource also from Insiteful Consults had a session on talents to build in setting up a hub. He disclosed some of the skill set of people that a hub manager or intending hub owner should work with.

The Day 2 of this event took another quite interesting dimension. Mr Bankole Oloruntoba discussed on the subject matter Business Model Canvas. He described the five phases in making up a business model canvas which include examination, understanding, ideation, experimentation and distil.  He iterated that the critical DNA of a business model is the ability to finger out how to deliver value to the customers and to capture value (in revenue and service). Another important aspect of business modelling discussed was the value proposition. He affirmed that needs and wants vary. So, a hub manager should be able to make start-ups understand what they are delivering and solutions they provide. Other aspects of business modelling he talked about were customer relationship, revenue stream, key resources, key activities, key partners and cost structure. He disclosed that the hub manager should be able to understand the language format of customers; formal, informal or semi-formal. As a hub manager, you should understand the value at which your customers are willing to pay he said. In setting up a hub, you should recognise your key partners and the key activities they perform he further restated. He further disclosed that a hub manager or intending hub owner should share information constantly and engage in activities that will help in delivering the hub’s value proposition.

Furthermore, Rizwaan Khambata, an entrepreneur and communications consultant from Good Up Tanzania had a session on understanding a target audience. He stated that the essential building blocks of effective communication include the pitch, the person, the ask, the problem and the proof. He opined that a problem statement should be explained with a story of change and the impact made should be shown. Achievements made should be celebrated and should be measurable, accurate, achievable and concise. At the end of this session, there was a pitching session where participants used the fore mentioned essential building blocks as a template.

On the last day of the training, participants were made to do a recap of all that have been learnt in the course of the training. Thereafter, there was the Brain Trust session. In this session, participants were made to learn from each other by sharing challenges their various hubs face and after brainstorming as a team suggest solutions to the challenge identified.

At the end of the event, closing remarks and appreciation were said by NINe team led by Mr Bankole Oloruntoba. Certificates of attendance were later issued to all participants.



In 2015, NINe carried out the first survey on the Nigerian tech innovation Ecosystem: Incubators, Accelerators, Innovation Centres, other organizations and individuals that support the development and growth of innovation, start-ups in Nigeria, and our findings were very encouraging. From this, we predicted a 300% rise in the number of Incubators and Innovation clusters by 2020.

As predicted the Innovation space in Nigeria grew tremendously surpassing the 300% projection by 2017, due to interventions from entrepreneurship initiatives development organizations and government in a way but most importantly the advent of IT hubs and innovation clusters were driven by entrepreneurs in localized regions looking to drive impact and build successful venture.

In 2015, we began Ecosystem Mapping Project, with the aim of capturing information on existing hubs, their location, services they provide, available startups in the hubs and their focus areas. The purpose of this is to create a mapping that gives a more improved narrative of the Nigerian Entrepreneurial and Innovation ecosystem- which will help propose policy discussions, investment oppotunities and capacity development programs to help grow the ecosystem.

Now in 2018, we are witnessing the influx of more entrepreneurs and the rise of start-ups in FinTech, EdTech, AgriTech, HealthTech, GreenTech industries and more creatives and innovators in Nigeria as a result of the increasing number of incubation hubs, acceleration hubs, innovation centres and co-working spaces.

This has progressively led to Ecosystem Mapping 2.2.

Ecosystem Mapping 2.2 indeed gives a more improved narrative of the Nigerian entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem as we recorded 26 Incubators, 54 Co-Working Spaces, 8 Accelerators and 17 Innovation hubs in Nigeria.

Ecosystem Mapping 2.2 covers most of the incubation hubs, acceleration hubs, innovation labs and co-working spaces across the six geo-graphical regions of Nigeria.

Highlights of Ecosystem Mapping 2.2

·       26 Incubators

·       54 Co-Working Spaces

·       8 Accelerators

·       17 Innovation hubs

With over a dozen more on our watch list


Lagos state has the highest number of co-working spaces in Nigeria. Most startups in Lagos hardly go through hubs programmes.

Abuja has the highest number of incubator hubs in Nigeria and will be launching its city based angel network soon. There is a high concentration of Impact driven startups in Abuja

With a rising number of social entrepreneurs, Nigeria’s Entrepreneurial ecosystem is indeed blooming with boundless opportunities to invest. The growth of the Nigerian entrepreneurial ecosystem has been incredible to watch, as in the first quarter of 2018, Nigerian start-ups recorded $9.2m in funding according to and with the observed trends we predict an estimated 200% increase by the fourth quarter of the year.

The growth of the Nigerian ecosystem is a proof of the ingenuity of the Nigerian people and the innovation prowess of the nation. By the next update 2.3 we would be able to identify the number of startups that have graduated from hubs, that are existing in hubs and the focus areas of interest of the different kinds of hubs in Nigeria and with the right partnership we will definitely do more.

Currently we are also engaging tertiary institutions leaders on the need to understand the innovation wave happening across Africa and steps to move beyond the current innovation management docility in most Nigerian Institutions. This engagement will an increase in the set up of hubs and IP Technology Transfer Offices in almost every tertiary institution in Nigeria including commercialization strategies and ecosystem development for the innovation culture in most tertiary institution in the country

There is still room for more partnerships (Private Sector/Public and Development organizations and the need to create proper incubation programs in Nigeria will further see a tremendous rise of more quality startups fit for the ever dynamic African market (not just Nigeria).

Authored by Bankole Oloruntoba and Mercy Olorunfemi.