CcHUB Nigeria: Breathing Life into Ideas ⎜IPEye
I had the opportunity to chat with Tunji Eleso, Director of Pre-incubation at Co-Creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB), and he candidly discussed the philosophy, facets and operations of the living lab and pre-incubation space.
In a nutshell, CcHUB is a centre that provides an ecosystem around technologists, social entrepreneurs, the government, and technology companies, in the creation of their social innovations. The hub has accelerated many varying and diverse creations, all of which arrive at a common denominator, and that is to provide solutions to social problems facing Nigerians.
You may have heard of, or even used the services and technologies (e.g., Truppr, Efiko, Budgit) accelerated at CcHUB. To find out more about CcHUB’s endeavors, direction and users, continue reading below!
What was the inspiration behind CcHUB?
In 2008, Femi Longe and ‘Bosun Tijani [the co-founders of CcHub], came together and thought about what they could do to change the mindset of people back home. Growing up as kids, the issues we faced locally around healthcare, education and infrastructure, were the same issues we faced three decades later. This didn’t make sense because we meet Nigerians all over the world and they excel at everything, so the worry was why this hadn’t translated to making a change back home. And so, both of them decided that they’d give it a shot and apply the open innovation model back home to solve problems. We believe that if Nigeria is going to develop, it’s to look beyond the government for everything. The private sector and non-state actors have to contribute their own quota, and how we’re going to get that to be able to happen is to harness that social capital and using technology, which is a very viable tool to begin to make that change happen.
How would you differentiate your hub from others in the region?
I think for us its very simple and very clear. Being a social innovation centre, we’re very very very focused on solving problems that are local to us. We shout that at the top of our heads! We’re not going to change the world by creating another Facebook or Twitter. We’re not going to solve our problems by doing things that have already been done. The way it’s going to happen is if we address the problems that happen locally because that’s the only way we’re going to grow and excel as a nation. It’s one thing to want to solve problems that are germane and local to us, and it’s another to be able to provide an entire ecosystem around people who want to solve those problems. This is what we’ve been able to do in the last three years. That’s the main differentiator. We are a social innovation centre and are looking to solve problems local to us.
Can you briefly describe start-up culture as you’ve experienced it in Nigeria?
It’s pretty young and new, and a bit of context is necessary to understanding the culture. We haven’t had that many investments, primarily because the market is still pretty new and a lot of solutions are still being done and are not at the stage where they can take on investments. But we’re actually beginning to see more people with the risk appetite and they’re usually foreign. So part of the work we’re trying to do now is figuring out how to encourage local investors to invest in technology. It’s beginning to look really interesting. Were seeing a lot more people creating solutions, whether in the e-commerce, gaming or entertainment space. And hopefully this will help build an appetite for investments. Of course we still have a lot of infrastructural things we need to address. If I want to invest money into a business, I need to know that I can get my money out. Those sort of things will to struggle to amass the level of investment necessary to grow the ecosystem.
Does the topic of intellectual property ever come up when working with CcHUB users?
In recent times, maybe, yes. A year or two ago, it wasn’t really an issue or topic of discussion because a lot of the creations are adaptations of things that already exist [so trying to create intellectual property around that would always be a challenge]. It’s nothing new in that sense, just the application at the local level. In the last two, three months, that conversation is beginning to happen with some of those coming up with very new things and are looking to get some kind of protection for what they have been able to create. It’s a conversation that’s going to grow in the future, but it’s also one that’s only just happening.
What’s the most rewarding aspect about working at CcHUB?
Being a part of solving problems and supporting people to solve problems. The opportunity to join CcHUB was one that I was very proud to have and I was very keen to explore because what it then gave me that my previous jobs hadn’t given me was the opportunity to work directly, one on one, in innovation and bring ideas to life. That is my motivation; seeing an idea grow from just the back of a napkin to having a platform and users. That process, the growth and the development we see from the innovators is what motivates me everyday. Knowing that there is a new person who is going to be able to grow and develop as a result of the support we’re able to provide. And the likelihood that in a span of three years, it will become a mainstream business is what really drives me.
To keep up with CcHub, follow them on twitter @Cc_HUB
About: Tracy Ayodele
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