Lagos, Nigeria – In a significant move aimed at bolstering small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Nigeria, Google announced the launch of the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, a N75 million equity-free fund.
The tech giant is inviting applications from Nigerian SMBs, with the aim of providing financial support to local entrepreneurs.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand and Reputation for Sub Saharan Africa at Google, emphasized the importance of the initiative in a statement stated that the Hustle Academy SMB Fund will grant N5,000,000 each to 15 deserving Nigerian small business owners.
“This initiative underscores Google’s unwavering commitment to fostering entrepreneurial growth in Nigeria.”
The fund’s equity-free nature makes it an attractive opportunity for SMBs seeking financial assistance to scale their businesses.
She said that SMBs formed the backbone of Nigeria’s economy but consistently grapple with challenges, notably the perennial obstacle of securing vital funding.
Aderemi-Makinde said that according to the World Bank, African SMBs faced a staggering finance gap of $330 billion.
She said that additionally, only 25 per cent of SMBs in Africa had access to bank loans, a percentage that sharply contrasted the 50 per cent observed in developed economies.
‘’Hustle Academy Fund is a testament to the resilience and innovation of Nigerian small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.
‘’We are hopeful that this fund will further empower them to succeed and drive economic growth, creating jobs and opportunities for all Nigerians,’’ she said.
According to her, Google’s Hustle Academy, introduced in 2022, provides SMEs with business and management education, mentoring, and networking, with a particular emphasis on preparing them to package their businesses.
Aderemi-Makinde said that it was in order to raise the necessary capital to take their businesses to the next level.
She said that since its inception, the programme had graduated over 4,000 SMBs in Nigeria, with a notable 74 per cent from the first-year reporting marked business growth.
According to her, the fund earmarks a N75 million pool exclusively for Nigeria to support 15 investor-ready SMBs through non-dilutive funding.
She said that this commitment was further enriched with tailored mentorship, ensuring these businesses were primed for success.
Also speaking, Product Marketing Manager and the Hustle Academy Programme Lead at Google, Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf, said that the Hustle Academy Fund provided SMBs with the resources and support they needed to succeed.
Nojimu-Yusuf said: “Wth equity-free funding, mentorship, and opportunities for increased visibility and networking, we are supporting SMBs to grow and thrive.”
She said that Google was committed to supporting the Nigerian entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the fund was a key part of that commitment.
According to her, to be eligible for the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, businesses must be Nigerian-founded, operating within Nigeria for 1-5 years, and have a clear and scalable business plan.
She said that SMBs should have a track record of commitment to growth, operate in sectors aligned with the digital economy or have a digital enablement strategy.
According to her, previous participation in the Hustle Academy programme is an added advantage.
Nojimu-Yusuf said that applications for the fund would open on Tuesday and close on October 12th.
She said that detailed insights into the fund and application procedures are on ‘google/hustleacademyfund’.