Google Launches ₦75 Million Equity-Free Fund to Empower Nigerian Small Businesses

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Google has unveiled an exciting opportunity for Nigerian Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) with the launch of the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, a dedicated ₦75 million equity-free fund aimed at bolstering the ambitions of local entrepreneurs.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Nigeria’s economy, but they often face significant challenges, most notably the constant struggle to secure crucial funding. According to the World Bank, African SMBs face a staggering financial gap of $330 billion. Furthermore, only 25 percent of SMBs in Africa have access to bank loans, a stark contrast to the 50 percent observed in developed economies.

The Hustle Academy SMB Fund is Google’s response to this funding challenge. It will provide financial support to five to 15 Nigerian small business owners, without requiring any equity in return. This initiative underscores Google’s unwavering commitment to nurturing entrepreneurial growth in Nigeria.

Google’s Hustle Academy, introduced in 2022, offers SMEs valuable education in business and management, mentoring, and networking opportunities. It places particular emphasis on helping businesses prepare themselves to attract the capital needed to take their operations to the next level. Since its inception, the program has seen over 4,000 SMBs in Nigeria graduate, with an impressive 74 percent from the first year reporting significant business growth.

Expanding on the success and impact of the Hustle Academy initiative, the Hustle Academy Fund earmarks a ₦75 million pool exclusively for Nigeria. This funding is designed to support 15 investor-ready SMBs through non-dilutive funding, bolstered by tailored mentorship to ensure these businesses are poised for success.

Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand & Reputation, Sub-Saharan Africa at Google, expressed optimism about the fund’s potential impact: “The 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.”

Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf, Product Marketing Manager and the Hustle Academy Programme Lead at Google added, “The Hustle Academy Fund provides SMBs with the resources and support they need to succeed. With equity-free funding, mentorship, and opportunities for increased visibility and networking, we are supporting SMBs to grow and thrive. We are committed to supporting the Nigerian entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the Hustle Academy Fund is a key part of that commitment.”

To be eligible for the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, businesses must meet certain criteria. They should be Nigerian-founded, operating within Nigeria for one to five years, and have a clear and scalable business plan. They should also demonstrate a track record of commitment to growth, operate in sectors aligned with the digital economy, or have a digital enablement strategy. While not mandatory, previous participation in the Hustle Academy program is considered an advantage.

Applications for the Hustle Academy Fund are now open as of September 28, 2023, and will close on October 12, 2023. Nigerian SMBs are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to supercharge their entrepreneurial dreams and contribute to the country’s economic prosperity.

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