Thirty of Nigeria’s top entrepreneurs have pitched their startups to the country’s president Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa Demo Day, with Facebook founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg also unexpectedly attending the competition.
Disrupt Africa reported in June on the launch of the Aso Villa Demo Day competition, which aims to find Nigeria’s most innovative startups. The competition was divided into two stages – an initial pitching event featuring 100 startups; from which 30 startups were named finalists, progressing to pitch their ideas in front in Buhari at an “unveiling”.
The final unveiling was held on September 2 in Abuja, with the 30 startups pitching their startups on stage to an audience of public and private sector representatives, as well as all the entrepreneurs meeting the president in person.
Zuckerberg had made a visit to Lagos only days earlier – visiting CcHub and it’s residents, among others, and had thereafter travelled to Nairobi to meet members of the tech ecosystem there. He unexpectedly returned to Nigeria to attend the Aso Villa Demo Day final.
“It’s really inspiring to see what you have built here. This group has really blown me away by the talent of the entrepreneurs and the developers in this country, and by the focus on building something that’s going to make a difference and going to make a change,” Zuckerberg told the 30 startups who pitched at the event.
“It reminds me of when I was getting started with Facebook, I wasn’t trying to build a company at the time, I was trying to build something that I wanted to see in the world. And that’s what I see people here doing. Just pushing through challenges, building things that you want to see in the world, and if that turns into a company – great; if it helps the country – great; but I think that if you keep doing this you’re not only going to shape Nigeria, and all of Africa, but the whole world.”