African energy firm to support Nigeria’s Aso Villa startups


African energy conglomerate Sahara Group is to offer mentorship to the 30 startups that participated in the Aso Villa Demo Day entrepreneurship development project launched by the Nigerian Presidency.

Disrupt Africa reported in June on the launch of the Aso Villa Demo Day competition, which was divided into two stages – an initial pitching event featuring 100 startups, and a final pitch event that saw 30 startups unveil their ideas in front of Nigeria’s President Buhari.

Facebook chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg also attended the event, as did Sahara Group executive director Tonye Cole, who commended the government for the initiative.

Three startups were named overall winners of the event, taking home NGN3 million (US$9,500) each from Sahara. They were smart payment solution Tracology, waste recycling and social benefit venture RecyclePoints, and commuter platform Shuttlers.

Sahara Group will also play a part in enhancing the development of all 30 startups through its “extrapreneurship” platform, which helps to grow startups by linking them with strategic partnerships and networks.

“Sahara is indeed proud to be associated with the project which will inspire, challenge and empower young Nigerians to be part of the solutions to socio-economic challenges in their immediate environment. Through Sahara Foundation’s Academic Hub, business development experts and professionals from other disciplines will provide mentorship to the top 30 innovators,” Cole said.

“If we are going to become sustainable, and move from this generation to the next, we must understand what the next generation is all about. The future is digital and technology. A lot of Nigeria’s problems today can be solved through technical solutions sourced locally from young and creative talents.”

Cole said Sahara would continue to align with governments and organisations that shared its “passion for providing platforms to help young entrepreneurs succeed.”


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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