“Hidden” startups in northern Nigeria

by MMC
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Surayyah Ahmad Sani (left) and Sanusi Ismaila

Venture capital firm Aduna Capital focuses specifically on the north Nigeria, a region that attracts only a fraction of the country’s startup funding. It is estimated that approximately 85% of venture capital funding goes to startups in Lagos, located in the southwest.

In a recent interview with How we succeeded in AfricaAduna co-founders Sanusi Ismaila and Surayyah Ahmad Sani have explained their enthusiasm for investing in entrepreneurs in Northern Nigeria.

“We believed that many stereotypes about northern Nigeria were wrong and that there were bankable ideas and implementers that were not funded,” Sanusi said. “Surayyah and I found that most investors did not understand the culture and either overlooked the region or were wrongly committed to it. And we thought we could do better. We played around with a few ideas, and eventually it evolved into the full-fledged fund that Aduna is today.

Northern Nigeria represents a significant market, home to more than 60% of the country’s population and accounting for 69% of Nigeria’s population growth, according to Surayyah.

Sanusi mentioned that the culture of northern Nigeria highly values ​​humility, which makes entrepreneurs in the region often talk less about their businesses. “There are some very successful software engineers or startup founders in northern Nigeria, but you don’t hear much about them in the media,” he explained.

“In my experience investing in startups, I find that those in northern Nigeria are much more efficient in using capital. And part of that comes, I think, from the cultural aspect. There’s this feeling of enormous responsibility, that someone else entrusted you with all this money and it’s your fiduciary responsibility to do it,” he added.

“When you start seeing the companies Aduna Capital supports, you’ll wonder, ‘Where were these companies?’ I always say, “They started, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And now that they’re ready to scale, it’s incredibly exciting to support them because they’re very supportive founders,” Surayyah said.

Read our full interview with Sanusi Ismaila and Surayyah Ahmad Sani: Beyond Lagos – Investment Opportunities in Northern Nigeria

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