The Deputy Ambassador, Netherlands Embassy, Lagos, Mr. Michel Deelen, has said his country is ready to support Nigeria to build the capacities of start-ups.
Speaking in Lagos, Deelen said his country had created an environment for start-ups to strive, having undertaken reforms to improve the investment climate and enhance policy clarity, consistency and predictability.
Deelen said the Embassy was a broker between Nigeria and the Netherlands, and that it was more concerned with trade and industry as well as connection to markets.
He said though Netherlands is a small country, with a population of 17 million, it has managed to develop a functional agric start-up ecosystem that has created jobs for its citizens.
One programme the Embassy is supporting to achieve this is Food Connection Challenge (FCC), a business incubation initiative focused on solving post-harvest losses.
FCC, supported by Netherland Government, has selected 17 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Republic of Benin and Nigeria to participate in the programme.
In all, the FCC received 88 applications from Benin and 228 from Nigeria, with an independent jury selecting those SMEs they considered the most promising and the best fit for the programme.
In Nigeria, 14 farms have been selected. The group engages in activities ranging from developing mobile solar-powered storage boxes to the processing of spices.
The juries of the FCC Benin and Nigeria consisted of representatives of African Business Angel Network (ABAN), African Innovation Foundation, PUM, KIT, Aid Trade, NABC, the Dutch embassies in both countries, and other experts in the field of agribusiness and innovation in Africa.
According to Deelen, FCC will take place throughout the year. In July, participants received a three – day business training. This month, the selected SMEs will be exposed to a day innovation session to improve business cases.
Participants work on their ideas through (remote) coaching throughout this month and October. According to Deelen, participants will receive pitch training in December. There will be a grand finale, where participants will present their ideas and winners will be selected.
The winner of the challenge, according to him, will get to EUR20, 000 ($23,000) in matching seed funding to implement his post-harvest solution.
FCC is organised by BoP Inc. and Crosswise Works for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of Agriculture.