Nigerian companies are now looking for innovations anywhere they can find them. And that is a good thing. I do think that other companies should copy them, and invest in our startups. Just as Google, Apple and Amazon have funds they deploy in startups, Nigerian corporations need to do same.
Honeywell Group, a Nigerian corporation, has launched its new accelerator and investment vehicle, Itanna. Led by Tomi Otudeko, Head, Innovation and Sustainability for Honeywell Group and Director of the new venture, Itanna will roll out four-month innovation programmes for tech-enabled Nigerian startups from its newly built Enterprise Factory in Lagos; with its pilot cohort of startups receiving USD $25,000 each in investment from Honeywell Group.
Through acceleration, investment and mentorship, Itanna is igniting enterprise. Led by Honeywell Group, we champion entrepreneurial talent & disruptive technology.
At Itanna we invest in early stage and growth stage technology-enabled businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa.
We provide strategic capital to help exceptional entrepreneurial management teams with innovative and scalable business models, disruptive technologies, deep market and domain knowledge, and strong executional skills, while working closely with them every step of the way to help scale their business.
Itanna launches with four cohort companies – Accounteer – providers of online accounting services for SMEs across Africa; KoloPay – a cashless target savings mobile and web application, Tradebuza – an online platform for managing and brokering commodities sourcing and outgrower scheme, and PowerCube – providers of affordable power supply using renewable energy. Chosen from over 200 applications, each startup will receive training and mentoring from leading industry experts, as well as the opportunity to pitch to Honeywell Group’s network of local and international investors at the company’s inaugural Demo Day, which will take place towards the end of 2018.
On the launch of Itanna, Obafemi Otudeko, Honeywell Group’s Executive Director, says, “Honeywell Group is entrepreneurial to its core – we have almost 50 years’ experience in building Nigerian businesses, across diverse sectors. As part of our wider portfolio, Itanna allows us to collaborate with the Nigerian tech ecosystem; we will invest patient capital into the startups we work with, and we will also provide world-class mentorship to enrich the business strategy of each cohort. As a corporate, we wanted to transform our approach and add dynamism to how we build our sector play. Itanna is the platform through which we can fulfil our mission to use enterprise to make our world better.”
Through the programme, Itanna will support and invest in tech-enabled for-profit startups with an existing Minimum Viable Product. Startups accepted into the accelerator will need to demonstrate traction through customer growth or partnerships with customer acquisition enablers, have a clear vision as well as technical capability, sector knowledge and the desire to scale.
The launch of Itanna comes as part of Honeywell Group’s mission to connect technology and innovation by transferring knowledge in business-building and entrepreneurship, as the company looks to cement its position as a facilitator and impactor of growth in key sectors, including tech within Nigeria and across Africa.
Itanna will also be investing in more developed tech startups looking for growth capital. Through the direct investment scheme, the Itanna team will support investee companies to scale by leveraging on Honeywell Group’s network and industry expertise.