On September 28, Google announced the launch of the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, a N75 Million equity-free fund aimed at supporting Nigerian Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs).
This initiative, providing N5 Million to 15 Nigerian small business owners, underscores Google’s steadfast dedication to fostering entrepreneurial development in Nigeria. The application period will close on October 12.
Small businesses, which are pivotal to Nigeria’s economy, consistently face challenges, particularly the ongoing difficulty of securing essential funding. According to the World Bank, African SMBs encounter a substantial finance gap of $330 billion. Moreover, only 25% of African SMBs have access to bank loans, a notable contrast to the 50% observed in developed economies.
Launched in 2022, Google’s Hustle Academy offers SMEs education in business and management, mentorship, and networking opportunities, with a special focus on preparing them to present their businesses in a way that attracts the necessary capital for growth. Since its inception, the program has graduated over 4,000 SMBs in Nigeria, with an impressive 74% from the inaugural year reporting significant business expansion.
Expanding on the achievements and influence of the Hustle Academy initiative, the Hustle Academy Fund allocates a N75 Million fund exclusively for Nigeria to assist 15 investor-ready SMBs through non-dilutive funding. This commitment is bolstered with personalized mentorship to ensure these businesses are well-positioned for success.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand & Reputation, Sub-Saharan Africa at Google, expressed, “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.”
In agreement, Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf, Product Marketing Manager and the Hustle Academy Program Lead at Google, stated, “The Hustle Academy Fund provides SMBs with the resources and support they need to succeed. With equity-free funding, mentorship, and opportunities for increased visibility and networking, we are supporting SMBs 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.”
To qualify for the Hustle Academy SMB Fund, businesses must be founded in Nigeria, operational within the country for 1-5 years, and possess a clear and scalable business plan. They should demonstrate a history of dedication to growth, operate in sectors aligned with the digital economy, or have a digital enablement strategy. While not obligatory, prior participation in the Hustle Academy program is an added advantage.