The Queens Borough of New York City, USA, has collaborated with the Lagos State Government on a learning exchange program to stimulate entrepreneurial and economic growth between Lagos and New York City.
The alliance between Queens Borough and Lagos State aims to inspire collaboration, highlight shared interests, and lay the groundwork for a prosperous and inclusive partnership for future joint initiatives that will have a long-term impact on the innovation ecosystems of both Lagos State and Queens Borough, New York.
It is a learning exchange relationship with a focus on areas of mutual collaboration and how Queens Borough, New York can help Nigerian companies gain access to funding.
Only 12% of tech jobs in the US are held by black people, and the Queens Borough – Lagos State alliance will bridge the gap by providing more opportunities for blacks and Africans to access funding, cross-border opportunities, and expand their markets beyond the shores of Lagos and Africa to New York, allowing them to become global solution providers.
Donovan Richards, Borough President of Queens, New York, noted that Lagos is the African continent’s premier digital environment and so deserves the necessary cross-border collaboration to assist entrepreneurs, inventors, and politicians in creating sustainable solutions for economic progress.
“Lagos is setting the stage on the African continent for black people in technology and innovation, and it deserves the necessary collaboration for access to capital to help entrepreneurs scale up and provide economic opportunities for greater inclusion and growth,” Mr Richards said.
“Lagos is a hub for black brilliance, black leadership, black innovation, and black participation,” said the Borough President, adding that “we are creating such partnerships and pipelines to help more people of colour get tech funding.”
The partnership, according to Olatunbosun Alake, the then Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, is in line with the State’s mission to provide opportunities and foster collaboration in the tech sector, with specific plans on how to resource, build, and create economic value from the tech ecosystems in Lagos State.
“We want to continue to help our entrepreneurs and stakeholders create value by forming cross-border partnerships and relationships that benefit the local ecosystem.” This collaboration will establish a platform for local businesses to expand into new markets, network with New York specialists, and collaborate on innovative ideas that will improve the ecosystem for growth and inclusivity,” Alake remarked.
Key highlights of the week-long visit to Lagos Nigeria by officials of Queens Borough, New York include a visit to the Lagos State Governor to discuss the agenda and key areas of collaboration between both ecosystems; Looking for areas of shared learnings with the Lagos Business School on how to exchange talents and curate programs so that Nigerian entrepreneurs can learn and benefit from New York; a curated event with the Nigerian ecosystem and thought leaders to have an exchange in learning and experiences, to see areas of collaboration and mutual learning and a Microsoft pitch day where startups will be pitching their ideas to get access to funding from New York.
A fireside talk and a panel discussion with thought leaders from Nigeria’s digital ecosystem were highlights of the ecosystem event.
Victor Afolabi, Founder of Eko Innovation Center and a significant actor in Lagos State’s innovation ecosystem moderated the fireside discussion with Donovan Richards, President of Queens Borough, New York.
The discussion focused on how the Lagos State-Queens Borough alliance can foster mutual growth, create systemic opportunities, and address challenges faced by entrepreneurs and innovators, with an emphasis on equitable access to resources.
Ebony Young, Deputy President of Queens Borough, New York, moderated the panel discussion, which included top ecosystem leaders such as Olatunbosun Alake, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Innovation and Technology; Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Founder and General Partner of Future Africa; and Akinwande Akinsulire, Startup Support Lead at Co-creation Hub.
The panel discussion facilitated an engaging and enlightening dialogue, establishing the framework for a fruitful and long-term partnership between Lagos State and Queens Borough, with an emphasis on developing an inclusive and diverse innovation and technology ecosystem in Lagos and New York.
The relationship resulted in the establishment of a shared Enterprise Development Center (EDC) desk where Lagos and New York may support, collaborate, and give access to capital for Nigerian companies.
Lagos State has sponsored over 50 companies across various industries in the last 36 months, and the Queens Borough – Lagos State relationship will help establish more venues for tech firms to scale up by gaining access to capital and cross-border market expansion.
The Lagos State Government has underlined its commitment to laying the groundwork for accelerating economic recovery through entrepreneurial development and successful cooperation with this alliance.
The ecosystem event was attended by tech entrepreneurs, stakeholders, innovators, policymakers, and Lagos State Government officials. It was proudly supported by the Lagos State Government, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Eko Innovation Center, Lagos State Ministry of Science and Technology, and Co-Creation Hub.