INTERVIEW (Bosun Tijani, Co-Founder/CEO, CCHub)

The Role of Proper Business Incubation in Accessing Funding

The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme organized by Fidelity Bank Plc to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. The interactive radio programme features subject matter experts and model entrepreneurs as guests on a weekly basis to share their insight and unique success stories. In this interview, Bosun Tijani, Co-Founder/CEO, CCHub gives valuable insights on “The Role of Proper Business Incubation in Accessing Funding”. 

Q: What Led to the Establishment of CCHub?

Bosun: CCHub is an innovation centre, we look beyond incubation and our interest is largely focused on how technology can lead to further development in Nigeria. Also, we strongly believe that entrepreneurs will play a major role in achieving these goals as a nation. there are tons of issues facing the country and in other to address this issues, we need to start with empowering creative minds that can proffer solutions and build-up sustainable businesses rather than relying solely on the government.

Q: What Experiences Were You Building Upon that Made You a Realist to the Vision of other Entrepreneurs?

Bosun: I started building my experience from when I was working with Innovation Consulting (UK) and my co-founder Femi Longe worked with social innovation (Young Foundation, London). My basic responsibility was to help raise research and development fund for university, academic institution and businesses in Norway, Italy, Denmark etc; and before then, I had worked with United Nations in Geneva and that was where my heart for social consciousness started from. We had this mindset to transform our society and to do this, we had generated tons of ideas. Our problem was basically narrowed down to selecting the best idea and getting the support to implement them and that was when we realized that the social innovation platform in Nigeria was limited as at then (2011). It was after this that we decided to set-up a platform where we could help entrepreneurs augment from idea to prototype, launch to effect positive change in the society and so we placed our focus on entrepreneurs that are ready to solve social and business challenges using technology and that this would be a very interesting opportunity to further foster development in the nation. That was what led to the creation of CCHUB.

Q: What Is an Incubation Centre and How Does It Benefit Entrepreneurs?

Bosun: Actually, it is not all entrepreneurs that need incubation, therefore it is not mandatory for any growing business to go through it. The truth is that up-to 90% of startups don’t have a crystal-clear view of the practical aspect of their businesses, so it becomes safe for these entrepreneurs to link themselves to these centres in order to get access to experienced professionals who will show them the right path to follow from idea creation to the launch venue, in other to have that comprehensive knowledge of what the market needs. Incubation is to shorten that process from idea creation to becoming a business for entrepreneurs, also anywhere in the world the outcome of any incubation centre is always the entrepreneurs and not really what the incubation service is able to offer you. Most times it depends on the ability of the entrepreneur to leverage on the resources available to them, and a perfect example is BudgIT.

Q: What Can You Say About the Funding Gap Between Idea Creation and The Market Generation?

Bosun: I think funding is not as difficult as people think. Investors are not ready to invest in businesses that only have theoretical basis for success, also entrepreneurs should stop waiting for that big money before they kick-start their business. They should endeavor to create a prototype with the little resources so as to determine the market demand for their products. For instance, when we started CCHub, the biggest challenge wasn’t funding for the services we offer, but it was how to get investors to fund the early stages of these young tech startup expenses like; hosting of website, purchasing laptop, transportation, etc. So, we were able to solve the problem by meeting investors on their behalf. We got Tony Elumelu who chose to sponsor 20 startups with $5,000. That is, now this is given globally to early stage startups. Entrepreneurs should know that the funding stages is a journey and they need to prepare for it.

Q: What Does It Take to Get Grant Funding?

Bosun: Firstly, there is this negative opinion around using grant to build a business, there are so many people that apply for grant because of their selfish reasons and in return it affects the development of the African continent and in maximization of the market returns also, another problem for entrepreneurs to access this grant is lack of clarity in terms of social change. Most entrepreneurs only focus on the profit they would generate from the business and they completely forget the social positive impact of the business to the general public.

Q: Define Social Impact?

Bosun: In a simple term, I will say social impact is what lead to the creation of CCHub. The empowerment of young people to take part in the future development of the country by addressing key challenges rather than letting the government do it alone. For instance, if I setup a radio station with the intention of enlightening people to be more socially conscious as regards to their health, education, etc. that simply means driving Social Impact because the general public does not need to rely on the government for orientation.

Q: Does CChub Take Equity Percentage from These Startups?

Bosun: Yes, and we typically don’t exceed 7% of their equity share for new businesses. Also bear in mind that we invest in these businesses and not only incubate them, there are two investment programs we offer. They are: Pre-Incubation $5,000 and $25,000 at Incubation and we take stake because we invest in their businesses and not for proving basic support.

Q: What Is the FB-Startup Accelerator Program in Partnership with Facebook about?

Bosun: Facebook has decided to support the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria, what we call “Deep Tech” which involves machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality in order to address some social problems. So they invest in about 15 entrepreneurs at different stages, most of them being students from different universities in the country, and our basic role is to support, augment their ideas, build prototypes, testing and technical support linkage with the Facebook team.

Q: Can N-Power Volunteers Partner with CChub to Enable Easy Access to Funding and Mentorship?

Bosun: Yes, logon to cchubnigeria.com, signup to request for support on any category of the programmes we offer.

Q: Can You Just Give Us the Portfolio of Your Current Projects

Bosun: Our core business is researching ways to help Nigeria use technology smartly and a part of that is supporting businesses with the programmes we offer such as; Pre-incubation $5,000, Incubation $25,000, Sustain business from 12-18 months $250,000 with other investors, Equipping public schools with technology etc.

Q: What is Your Word of Encouragement to Entrepreneurs?

Bosun: I will say from my experience so far; that your background should not be the determining factor of your future. Nigeria is one of the countries that entrepreneurs have a tremendous platform to be successful and what makes an entrepreneur a success is the ability to break through challenges and create value. Personally, my perspective of entrepreneurs in the world are entrepreneurs who don’t go into business to make money but to proffer solutions to major challenges.