The immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has announced plans to launch a $100 million venture capital fund for startups in Nigeria, specifically those in the Kaduna tech ecosystem.
He said the firm will become operational in January 2024.
El-Rufai said he is partnering with Eyo Ekpo, co-founder of Excredite Consulting Limited, and three others, as founding directors and initial shareholders, while he acts as a part-time chairman of the board.
“I can confirm that our VC-PE firm, Afri-Venture Capital Company Ltd will by the Grace of God, begin operations initially in Abuja in January 2024 with Jimi Lawal, Hafiz Bayero, Eyo Ekpo and Kabir Yabo as founding directors and initial shareholders.
“I am privileged to be the part-time Chairman of the Board. Please pray for our success and the Nigerian (and in the near future African) innovators and entrepreneurs we hope to finance, nurture, and mentor to be the Dangote Group of the future,” he wrote on X.
Speaking on his vision and purpose for moving into startup investments, El-Rufai said he wants to set up a venture capital fund or private equity that will invest in young Nigerians with innovative ideas.
The former governor said he is willing to fund local startups irrespective of what segment of the economy the ideas are, “so long as it has the potential to add value to the world.”
“We don’t intend to remain in any business. We want to catalyse growth in these startups,” he added.
El-Rufai said what young people need is essentially mentoring and financing to get things going.
“They develop the idea and see whether it is viable. And we will open doors for them because they don’t have contact.
“They don’t know or have access to ministers, presidents or regulatory agencies. We do. We know the minefields that they have to navigate.
“We know that they need to give them appointments and we can provide them with the startup funding and in return we take an equity position.
“We don’t want to take your business; we want to develop it. But if we take the risk on you, we will take a percentage of the business,” he said.
The former minister also revealed that the first fund will be investing for three to four years.
He said the fund is expected to launch early next year and the company will be headquartered in Abuja.
According to El-Rufai, this is to diversify the funding beyond Lagos because there is already a lot of interest in funding innovation in Lagos.
“Nigeria has a lot to offer Africa and the world. Our population, entrepreneurial capability, the innovation of our young people and their boldness and courage to find success. We just felt that we have a duty to encourage,” the former governor stated.
El-Rufai said the fund will not just be focusing on new startups, but also engage established companies with management problems that are still viable.