Nigeria to establish startup house in San Francisco- Minister Tijani

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..the San Francisco Bay Area and the nearby Silicon Valley have “a combined GDP value of just over $929 billion and are home to over 200 of the largest companies in the world.
Nigeria to establish startup house in San Francisco- Minister Tijani
Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy

Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani has announced that the government plans to set up the Nigerian Digital Technology Exchange Program Hub in a government-owned property in San Francisco in the United States of America (USA). In an announcement on X, the minister also said that the building will be called the Nigerian Startup House going forward.

According to Dr Tijani, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Nigeria’s government’s highest decision-making group which consists of the country’s President, Vice and Federal ministers approved the project during its meeting on Tuesday.

Highlighting the importance of the location, Bosun noted that the San Francisco Bay Area and the nearby Silicon Valley have “a combined GDP value of just over $929 billion and are home to over 200 of the largest companies in the world by revenue.”

Nigeria to establish startup house in San Francisco- Minister Tijani
Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy

The Minister explained that setting up the startup hub in the United States will play a significant role in attracting investments to Nigeria. He also noted that this aligns with the objective of the Ministry to position Nigeria as a significant player in the global technology landscape.

“The Nigerian Startup House will play a critical role in promoting Nigeria’s economic interest, attracting Foreign Direct Investment, and improving the visibility and positioning of Nigeria’s Startup Ecosystem to attract funding and expertise from global markets and organizations represented in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond”, he said.

Dr Tijani indicated that the Nigeria Startup House will be managed by a consortium of Nigerian digital technology companies that will provide non-public funding for its operations. He however explained that the ownership of the Nigeria Startup House will remain with the Federal Government, represented by the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Read also: Tinubu appoints Bosun Tijani, Chidi Ajaere, Funke Opeke to the Presidential Economic Council

Why setting up a startup house in San Francisco matters

In recent years, setting up a shop in Lagos and San Francisco has been a vital part of the Nigerian startups’ guide to becoming a global fintech player.

A few of the startups that have taken this path include payments company Flutterwave, digital lending startup Mines, and mobile money company Chipper Cash. In a conversation with Techcrunch, the founders explained that they have maintained headquarters in San Francisco and operations in Africa to tap the best of both worlds in VC, developers, clients, and the frontier of digital finance.

Nigeria to establish startup house in San Francisco-  Minister Tijani
San Francisco Bay Area

Founded in 2016 by Nigerians Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave has positioned itself as a global B2B payments solutions platform for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad. The Y-Combinator-backed company is headquartered in San Francisco and operates from its Lagos headquarters, in Nigeria.

SImilar: Flutterwave secures money transfer licenses in 13 US states, now operates in 29 states

Similarly, Mines.io, a technology company that creates white-label lending solutions for Africa’s largest banks is a San Francisco-based startup with an operations base in Lagos, Nigeria. The startup uses big data (extracted primarily from mobile users) and proprietary risk algorithms to enable lending decisions.

Another notable San Francisco-based Nigeria startup is a cross-border payment company, Chipper Cash. The company also has its operational base in Lagos, Nigeria. Chipper Cash offers no-fee, P2P, cross-border mobile money payments in Africa.

The startup was co-founded by Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled. Both founders emigrated to the U.S. to study and work in Silicon Valley.

A Techcrunch article in 2019 predicts that as more African-founded fintech startups look to expand on and off the continent, location in and partnerships with actors in the Bay Area could become more common. It is unclear how the Nigerian Startup House will further the interest of these founders.

For starters, the house could host community events, foster collaborations among founders, create roundtables with investors, serve as virtual office locations or certainly house a government liaison desk. All of that will certainly take shape with time.


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