Google opens applications for N75 million Hustle Academy Fund to empower 15 Nigerian SMEs
Google has announced the opening of applications for the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, a N75 Million equity-free fund dedicated to amplifying the ambitions of Nigerian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). This initiative, offering N5 Million to 15 Nigerian small business owners, cements Google’s unwavering commitment to cultivating entrepreneurial growth in Nigeria.
Reports have shown that small businesses form the backbone of Nigeria’s economy, yet they consistently grapple with challenges, notably the perennial obstacle of securing vital funding. According to the World Bank, African SMEs face a staggering finance gap of $330 billion, a worrisome reality, as 25 per cent of SMEs in Africa have access to bank loans, a percentage that sharply contrasts the 50 per cent observed in developed economies.
To address the funding deficit for SMEs in the continent, 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 in order to raise the necessary capital to take their businesses to the next level.
Since its inception, the programme has graduated over 4,000 SMEs in Nigeria, with a notable 74 per cent from the first year reporting marked business growth.
Building on the success and impact of the Hustle Academy initiative, the Hustle Academy Fund earmarks a N75 Million pool exclusively for Nigeria to support 15 investor-ready SMBs through non-dilutive funding. This commitment is further enriched with tailored mentorship, ensuring these businesses are primed for success.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, head of brand & reputation, Sub Saharan Africa at Google, remarked that 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,” she added.
In the same vein, Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf, product marketing manager and the Hustle Academy Programme lead at Google, said the Hustle Academy Fund provides small businesses with equity-free funding, mentorship, and opportunities for increased visibility and networking.
“We are supporting SMEs 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,” Nojimu-Yusuf noted.
For entrepreneurs to be eligible for the Hustle Academy SME Fund, businesses must be Nigerian-founded, operating within Nigeria for 1-5 years, and have a clear and scalable business plan. In addition, they are expected to have a track record of commitment to growth, operate in sectors aligned with the digital economy or have a digital enablement strategy, and, while not mandatory, previous participation in the Hustle Academy programme is an added advantage.
Applications for the Hustle Academy Fund are open September 28 and will close on October 12, 2023.