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In developed and developing economies, the role of Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) cannot be overemphasized. It is safe to say small businesses play a crucial role not only in job creation, but economic productivity in general. However, these businesses need support for greater impact.

In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, the case is no different. SGBs are major employers of labour. But, like in other entrepreneurial ecosystems, challenges exists for owners and businesses. To this end, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), with support from Citi Foundation developed an entrepreneurial ecosystem snapshot to better understand support system in and around Lagos, Abuja (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana).

The ecosystem snapshot will help intermediary organizations supporting entrepreneurs understand the kind of support available in the ecosystem, as well as gain insight into gaps and opportunities in the ecosystem. “The overall entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to be nurtured to encourage greater growth,” says Olatunji Ajani West Africa Regional Chapter Coordinator for Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). “SGBs would benefit from public-private partnerships (PPPs) that deliver high-quality business support,” he adds.

Speaking at the launch of the Lagos Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot recently, Ajani explained how the startup community in Nigeria’s economic hub requires actors to foster a spirit of inclusiveness and engagement across stakeholders – investors, capacity development providers, foundations, donor organisations, professional service providers, corporate partners, civil society organisations, and other community organisations.

Highlighting key findings from the report, ANDE West Africa Chapter Co-ordinator mentioned poor access to finance, lack of collaboration and coordination among actors supporting entrepreneurs, difficulty in finding competent and skilled talent, and high rent among the most pressing challenges in Lagos’ entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, the snapshot also captured the growing involvement of knowledge providers from the private sector who offer programmes and trainings tailored to build business capacity in startup founders, investments flows to different sectors, and the stage of business that attracts the most funding from investors among others.

The study also sheds light on the significant growth recorded in hubs and co-working spaces, startup accelerators and incubators. It highlighted the need for advisory services targeted at SGBs in the ecosystem and the opportunities for venture capitalists as businesses in the ecosystem continue to attract investment from local and global institutions.

Stakeholders at the event included ANDE members: AMSCO, Alitheia Capital, Dalberg, LEAP Africa, Oxfam, and TechnoServe. Other organisations such as Bank of Industry, Heritage Bank, and Fate Foundation were also in attendance. In an interactive session, other stakeholders also commended the effort of ANDE while suggesting ways to improve collaborations within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

One of such suggestions came from Account Manager, Anglophone West Africa, African Management Service Company (AMSCO) Mrs Imaobong Amaechi, who stressed the need for stakeholders to take action and collaborate to advance information sharing and learning within the ecosystem.

Adding to the discussion, Associate Partner, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Nneka Eze, explained how ANDE works with intermediary organisations to provide support to local entrepreneurs. She also encouraged stakeholders to take necessary steps to ensure growth and development of SGBs and their owners.

In closing, ANDE West Africa Coordinator Ajani said members of the public can access a detailed version of the Lagos Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot online. He also emphasized that ANDE’s goal is to provide better insight about the business environment, local support systems, and entrepreneurial intermediaries in and around Lagos and Abuja (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana).

Ajani also confirmed that plans are underway to map organisations supporting SGBs, and identify gaps, challenges, and opportunities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem in other locations.

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