The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reports that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) contributed about 48% of the country’s national GDP within the past five years. Also, according to Knoema, Nigeria’s global entrepreneurship index was at 20.8% in 2019, a considerable increase from 19.75% the previous year. This significant development in the MSME sector is highly commendable and showcases the sector’s economic growth potential. However, challenges such as deficiency of funds as well as lack of infrastructural support have prevented exponential growth and development within the sector. In line with its commitment to drive economic growth through entrepreneurship and innovation, IHS Nigeria, the largest subsidiary of IHS Towers, has commissioned an Innovate Hub: a low-cost hub initiative to address the challenges faced by SMEs and freelancers.
The Innovate Centre
The initiative was created by Versecom Limited, a technology services company in partnership with the IHS Nigeria the project sponsor, alongside government bodies such as the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) and Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). Through the partnership, IHS Nigeria meets LASPARK’s mandate to promote recreation and social development through private sector investments and collaborations that stimulate economic growth and benefit residents of Lagos state.
The Innovate Hub provides cost-effective workspaces for small scale entrepreneurs and freelancers whose business activities are hindered by high cost of office space and lack of access to electricity and the Internet. With this, aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups can freely innovate and run business activities in a conducive working environment. The center which houses a 600-seat capacity is open to the public. In line with IHS Nigeria’s commitment to supporting the energy and environmental sectors, community events and incentives have been tailored to satisfy the needs of Energy and Environment MSMEs at the hub. The hub is modelled as an energy laboratory, with world-class industry equipment such as transformer winder, oscilloscope and component racks that eliminate challenges inhibiting innovation within the sector. The Energy Hub costs users N1000/per day, a 50% to 80% price discount in comparison to current market rates. The initiative will provide SMEs in the idea and pre-seed stages cost-effective access to valuable equipment.
Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals
Whilst speaking on the Innovate Centre, IHS Nigeria’s Chief Corporate Services Officer, Dapo Otunla stated, “In Nigeria, having a healthy, vibrant, barrier-free SME ecosystem is critical to economic development. We are committed to promoting SMEs and innovation in Nigeria by collaborating with stakeholders such as the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), and our operations partner, Versecom, to develop the IHS Energy Hub which aims to tackle the rising cost of office space and barriers to business entry faced by most SMEs and freelancers in Lagos State. The Energy Hub initiative aligns closely with one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8 – which speaks to Decent work and Economic Growth, which, in turn, envisage a revival of the entrepreneurial spirit of people through the promotion of development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation, and the formalization and growth of SMEs, including access to financial services.”
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The Hub which is located at Rafiu Jafojo Park Shasha, Alimosho Lagos, is easily accessible to Lagos State residents. With this project, IHS Nigeria, one of the country’s largest providers of shared telecommunications infrastructure continues to reinforce its commitment to strengthening the Nigerian economy.