Upperlink, a Nigerian technology company has announced a key mentorship programme that will benefit over 100 IT-savvy entrepreneurs nationwide to commemorate the nation’s centenary celebration.
Upperlink, Nigeria’s first Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN]-accredited registrar said the mentoring programme will foster growth in the local economy.
As the only registrar accredited in Nigeria and the eight in Africa, Upperlink’s mandate is to discover and mentor 100 IT startups and nurture them to maturity thereby sharpening the entrepreneurial skills of army of IT-savvy youths in Nigeria. Through this programme Nigeria will begin to assert its right influence in the Internet ecosystems.
According to Mr. Segun Akano, Managing Director/CEO of the company, Upperlink has chosen to remember the country’s centenary celebration as a milestone. “As we begin the journey into another 100 years, we want to always look back to say that in the last 100 years of Nigeria, we harvested 100 young entrepreneurs who were nurtured and helped to realize their full potentials”.
Explaining the rationale behind the mentoring programme, he informed that when a seed is sown, the number of fruits would be uncountable; especially if it the seed falls on a fertile soil and nurtured. Sharing what led to Upperlink’s transformation, he narrated how in 2003 when the company opened for business and the company could not afford a laptop. “We were so poor and we had to make presentations to clients using desktop and monitor”.
Inspired by Dr Mike Adenuga, Chairman of Globacom
However, in 2004, he added, he participated in the Young Managers Competition initiated by Nigeria Institute of Management [NIM] and supported by founder of Globacom, Mike Adenuga. He won a laptop as a prize and that was the “turning point for our business”.
He noted that had Adenuga not supported the NIM initiative, he would not have had the breakthrough at that time. “Mike Adenuga did not know me till today but his laptop at that time has produced hundreds of laptops today. This is why we want to sow seeds in the lives of deserving young IT entrepreneurs. We will not truncate the flow of benefits, as some people just need a mite to become mighty”, he said.
Enumerating the benefits to the 100 IT young entrepreneurs, he said the startups would benefit from understanding the domain business as the entry point to the internet ecosystem and other things would follow. Through the project, 100 startup would be integrated and empowered in the 36 states of the federation to mark the country’s centenary anniversary.
With average of three per state, the startups would become “State Lead Domain Sales Partners”. The company would invest in them through professional training and marketing skills, selling tools, take off grant and performance bonuses.
The 100 IT startups would be exposed to modern techniques of website designs, mobile apps, online advertising etc and they would be channeled to serve other SMEs in Nigeria. “The ultimate goal of the project is not training but service to earn income, make a living and become wired for creativity”, he said.
Using ICANN accreditation as strength, Upperlink also plan to transform the lives of the 100 young IT entrepreneurs, induce in them passion for ICT, create wealth and thereby reduce unemployment figure, as some of the 100 IT entrepreneurs would emerge rapidly “to become champions in their respective territories and in turn become employers of labour”.