Private organisations are not holding back from playing a role in creating an enabling environment for Nigerian startups
Itanna is a Lagos-based venture capital platform conceived and backed by Honeywell Group, a leading Nigerian conglomerate. It serves to facilitate the growth of innovative startups and transform them into strategic enterprises that will further propel economic growth across Africa and the world.
Itanna is also a major step by the Honeywell Group to key into the wave of tech-led innovation while making pivotal contributions to the development of new businesses and new industries in Africa.
Itanna was founded by Honeywell Group in 2017. Honeywell Group is a leading Nigerian conglomerate that has built a solid track record in the Nigerian business environment by successfully establishing thriving, world-class companies which are market leaders in their respective sectors. The Itanna initiative is an extension of Honeywell Group’s mission of “using enterprise to make our world better”.
What We Do
Itanna invests in early and growth stage technology-enabled businesses across sub-Saharan Africa in two ways:
- Through an accelerator programme where selected investee companies receive financial investment and practical business management counsel from business experts over a period of four (4) months.
- For its inaugural cohort, Itanna provided business support and mentorship to four (4) Startups – Powercube, KoloPay, Tradebuza and Accounteer – and, invested in three (3) of the Startups – Powercube, Tradebuza and Accounteer.
- Through a Direct Investment Scheme where we provide strategic investments to growth stage companies.
- In early 2019, Itanna closed its first direct investment in AppZone, a Nigerian software firm that provides home-grown software solutions for the financial services industry.
The Itanna Enterprise Factory is located at 2 Abebe Village Road, Iganmu, Lagos, Nigeria. The workspace is centrally located in the heart of industrial Lagos and is easily accessible from Lagos Island and Lagos Mainland.
The Itanna team is made up of Tony Idugboe (Vice President and Head of Investment), Francis Vesta (Senior Investment Analyst), Michael John (Programme Manager) and Honeywell Group’s Head of Innovation and Sustainability, Tomi Otudeko. Charles Ifedi (former CEO, Verve International and founding partner, Interswitch Group) is an advisor to the team.
Itanna’s Unique Selling Points
Honeywell Group has over 45 years of experience building and scaling businesses across different sectors. To help support the growth of startups, Itanna is tapping into Honeywell Group’s rich experience of incubating and growing businesses, extensive network of technical and development partners, knowledge of the operating environment and proven access to capital, amongst others.
Nigeria is arguably the most important tech startup environment in Africa right now because there is a new wave of entrepreneurs looking to use tech to revolutionize the way business is done in Nigeria.
Nigeria is also on track to attract more venture capital in 2019 than its Southern African and East African counterparts, given the number and sheer size of equity investment deals consummated in Nigeria in 2018. Similarly, two of the world’s biggest tech companies, Google and Facebook (NG_Hub), opened their own hubs and launched accelerator programmes in Nigeria in 2018. Clearly, Nigeria is the trigger and ignition point for Africa’s tech revolution and Itanna is looking help ignite and fuel the revolution.
Itanna’s plan is to build a top accelerator programme in sub-Saharan Africa. We plan on going beyond Nigeria and Africa. Due to our reach and value add, we received applications for both our first and second cohorts from over 10 African countries.
One key area of focus over the next 1-2 years is to do more outreach to other African countries. Also, within our direct investment scheme, we are positioning ourselves as the partner of choice for startups looking to enter the Nigerian market through Honeywell and its extended network.
In a nutshell, our ambition is to help build an ecosystem of tech and tech-enabled companies that not only create value and disruptive innovation but can also compete on a global scale in terms of market valuation.
The Government’s Role
Government must continue its effort to significantly improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria. We have to make it easier for businesses to register and obtain permits. We should also make efforts to simplify our tax regime, especially elimination of multiple taxation. Government should also consider tax incentives for emerging startups.
Finally, we must continue to invest in STEM education and research. We need to promote the type of education that will provide young Nigerians with the skills and competences required for the 21st century and beyond.
Itanna is an impact initiative that invests in disruptive tech-enabled businesses in Africa providing mentorship, facilitated networking and growth capital through its accelerator programme.