Versecom Limited and IHS Nigeria, Thursday, signed a memorandum of understanding on the “Low-Cost Hub Initiative,” a strategic move that is geared towards improving Nigeria’s startup ecosystem through affordable co-working space.
Part of the Initiative is the construction of the first out of the five hubs which is situated at the heart of Alimosho, the biggest Local Government Area in Lagos. The hub is set to be officially launched on the 1st of November, 2019.
Speaking during a press conference in Lagos, the Co-founder, Timilehin Odusina, said, the Low-Cost Hub Initiative became necessary considering the compendium of challenges, such as the high cost of office space and community barrier to business entry faced by small individuals and startups in the country.
According to Odusina, startups, small businesses, individuals have the opportunity to utilize the Hub at the rate of N1000 per day, adding that the whole idea is to make the hub available at a reduced price.
”This is 50 percent to 80 percent lower than the current market rates; and the Hub is primarily targeted at the idea stage – pre-seed startups and freelancers around Lagos.”
Odusina said other hubs will be located within different public parks around Lagos. ”IHS Lagos Innovates Centre; The Energy Hub located in Rafiu Jafojo Park Shasha, Alimosho, will be officially launched on the 1st of November, 2019,” he revealed.
Responding to questions on the decision to situate the Hub in Alimosho, Odusina said it was important to have the Hub in a strategic area like Alimosho where there is a larger population of youth in the state compared to any other Local Government Area.
”It must not be located in the highbrow areas like Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Ikeja, etc. These guys need to have access to facilities that will help them transform their ideas into sustainable solutions.
”The average Nigerian entrepreneur has many challenges and it is imperative we help to continually address some of these challenges, ” he said.
According to Sales Director, IHS Nigeria, Olaitan Ogunbiyi, the hub remains first of its kind due to its focus on energy and environment.
”As a smart city infrastructure company and the premier sponsor of this initiative, we are solely supporting and poised towards solving energy and environment-related issues as they remain core areas of Corporate Social Responsibility.
He added, ”the Hub will be open to everyone, but the community events, challenges, etc will be tailored only towards energy and environment startups.”
IHS Nigeria also funded the construction of an energy laboratory with equipment like transformer winder, oscilloscope, etc. in a bid to remove the barriers inhibiting innovation within the sector.
Other partners are the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, Leadspace by Passion Incubator and Cisco Nigeria.
In her words, Head of Startups, (Lagos Innovates) Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, Tosin Faniro-Dada, maintained that the initiative was necessary at a time when many startups needed to break the barriers of internet access, office space and other peculiar challenges in the ecosystem.
”This was something we were looking forward to and it finally happened, we are excited about this development,” she said.
Versecom Limited birthed this initiative while performing the due diligence required to provide free wifi in Lagos parks but then realized the park’s footfall was low during weekdays which is unsustainable for free wifi business.
In order to boost park usage during weekdays, the idea of building an open floor low-cost co-working space using semi-permanent infrastructure was born.
According to Taiwo Olatunde, a representative from LASPARK, the initiative remains a laudable one and ”we are playing the role of an operator for all the public parks in Lagos.
Leadspace by Passion Incubator will manage the Hub and help entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses, while Cisco Nigeria will support with Wi-Fi equipment for the Hub.