Google has demonstrated its commitment to empowering entrepreneurship in Nigeria with the launch of a ₦75 million Hustle Academy SMB Fund. This equity-free funding targets 15 Nigerian small and medium-sized businesses to provide capital and mentorship without diluting ownership.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of emerging economies like Nigeria. However, limited access to funding constrains their growth. The World Bank estimates a $330 billion finance gap for African SMEs. Only 25% can access bank loans compared to 50% in developed countries. The limited funding makes it difficult for SMEs to scale up operations, adopt new technologies, and compete globally.
Launched in 2022, Google’s Hustle Academy provides Nigerian SMEs with business education, mentoring, and networking opportunities. So far, over 4,000 SMEs have graduated from the program, with 74% reporting significant business growth in the first year.
Building on this success, the Hustle Academy Fund offers non-dilutive funding and tailored support to equip SMEs for the next growth phase. Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand & Reputation, Sub-Saharan Africa at Google, says the fund highlights the resilience and innovation of Nigerian SMEs, which drive economic growth and job creation.
Eligible SMEs must be Nigerian-founded, operating for 1-5 years in sectors aligned with the digital economy. While not required, Hustle Academy participation is an advantage. Applications opened on September 28th and close on October 12th, 2022.
This fund aligns with Google’s increasing focus on African markets. Recently, Google launched an AI accelerator program for African startups. It also selected 25 African startups for its Black Founders Fund, which provides grants and mentoring.
With the Hustle Academy Fund, Google demonstrates its commitment to empowering African innovation and entrepreneurship. By providing critical capital and support, Google helps high-potential Nigerian SMEs become investor-ready and realize their full economic potential. The fund could have a transformative impact on the nation’s SME landscape.