Africa Ecosystem Partner Spotlight : Bankole Oloruntoba of the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center (NCIC)
Bankole Oloruntoba is leading the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center (NCIC), one of Get in the Ring’s ecosystem partners promoting our activities on the continent. Prior to that, he managed the Enspire incubator in Abuja Technology Village and he was the founder of the Network of Incubators and Innovators in Nigeria (NINe) in 2014.
What is the origin of your organization?
Bankole Oloruntoba: “The Nigeria Climate Innovation Center was created in 2018 by the World Bank and it is supported by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The goal of our organization is to make Sustainable Green Economy in Nigeria viable by creating business opportunities leading to employment and income in the circular economy. To do so, the Center develops solutions to climate change challenges in Nigeria through three venture building programs: an early-stage incubation program called Embryo, a second stage incubation program called Hatch and a third program called Altitude designed to help market-ready entrepreneurs.“
What is unique about the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center?
“Our organization is more climate and circular economy focused than any other support organization in Nigeria. We also offer a seed grant at the end of our incubation programs, for instance 10 of the 16 companies from the Renewable Energy program received a $10k grant to further develop. On top of that, at NCIC we care for the business model of a venture as much as we care for its product. We are able to support founders with our strong academic background due to our offices being inside Lagos Business School and a rich network of industry players.”
What domains do you focus on?
“In our pursuit of creating a green economy in Nigeria, we look at four key sectors of the value chain: Renewable Energy, Waste Management, Water Solutions and Smart Agriculture. Our flagship Embryo Incubation Program for Early-Stage Green Ventures was launched in 2020 and focuses primarily on Renewable Energy. Among the 43 ventures incubated since the beginning, we rewarded 16 of them with a seed grant of $10k.”
What is your proudest achievement at NCIC?
“I am proud that we initiated a lot of innovative activities in circular economy in Nigeria: we are the first climate focused incubator in the country, we launched the first loan platform focused on green SMEs in Nigeria in partnership with ProvidusBank, and we organized the first SDG Hackathon in Nigeria.”
Can you tell us about one bold solution from a founder within your network?
“A lot of successful businesses within the circular economy in Nigeria do not get a lot of attention because they are following very traditional models and remain offline. For instance, there is a metal circular market in Nigeria where people ship metal waste, sell it, reuse it and so on to generate revenue. And a lot of people are running successful businesses and have become millionaires within the circular economy and without the world knowing about them.
In our incubator, we like to attach a digital component to a circular economy project, allowing it to scale and to create new jobs and opportunities. As part of our past cohorts, we had a company called PowerStove which develops IoT enabled efficient clean cookstoves that generate electricity. Another company comes to mind: We had Ecotutu which is a cooling company designing food refrigeration items without requiring a constant power source. It is a game changer for the cooling industry in developing countries.”
Why did you choose to partner with Get in the Ring?
“I first heard of Get in the Ring via the Women Empowerment Award that you launched with the Bayer Foundation. I thought it was a promising initiative and I shared it with my network because we need to fill in the gap between female and male entrepreneurs and facilitate women entrepreneurship. Through a partnership with Get in the Ring, I see a way for both our organizations to share our success stories to a wider audience and to collaborate on our common interest in sustainability and impact ventures. So I’m looking forward to seeing where this partnership leads us.”
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What is your next big event?
“We are excited to kick off the third cohort of our Embryo Renewable Energy incubation program at the end of April! And we will soon start with the second set of this year’s Green SME management program. ”
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