According to Mr. Olumide Balogun, the Country Director of Google West Africa, the recent Google Hustle Academy graduation in Abuja was a celebration not just of 5,300 graduates but also of the significant empowerment provided to 10,000 businesses across Africa, including 4,400 in Nigeria.
Balogun emphasized that the fund, comprising financial aid, mentorship, and business tools, is geared to empower Nigerian SMBs, aiming to drive economic growth by creating jobs and opportunities for Nigerians. He expressed hope that this support would enable these businesses to succeed.
Highlighting the diversity among the graduates and fund recipients across various industries, Balogun praised their resilience and passion, asserting that even in a challenging environment, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could excel with the right tools, knowledge, and funding.
“The Hustle Academy stands as proof of what focused training and resources can accomplish. Today, we’re not just celebrating their graduation; we’re acknowledging their potential to reshape and invigorate the Nigerian business landscape,” Balogun remarked.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand and Reputation at Google, introduced the 15 beneficiaries, representing Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. She noted that their selection followed a rigorous process by a seasoned panel from private, government, and training sectors, emphasizing that the fund’s impact on the economy was the prime focus, not just Google’s involvement.
In his keynote address, Mr. Charles Odii, Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), applauded the graduates’ commitment. He announced the integration of the Google Hustle Academy into SMEDAN’s licensed Business Development Service Providers, recognizing the crucial role SMEs play in Nigeria’s economy.
“Whatever is learned at the academy, the responsibility rests on SMEs to go out there and address the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria,” Odii stressed.
Amidst this, Mr. Tola Adekunle-Johnson, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Job Creation, linked youthful unrest in the country to unemployment and pledged the Federal Government’s support for job creators.
Among the diverse recipients recognized were entrepreneurs like Ifeoma Augusta Anselem, Femi Bolaji, Nafisa Sabo, Funmilola Agbayewa, Chigozie Bashua, John Samuel Andefiki, Hussaini Aliyu Baba, Aminu Abdulkarim, Constance Edesiri, and others from various industries.
Funmilola Agbayewa, one of the fund recipients and a cancer survivor, expressed gratitude for the invaluable business knowledge gained at the Hustle Academy. She plans to invest the fund in her cancer center foundation to support the needs of cancer patients.
The Google Hustle Academy addresses specific challenges faced by SMBs in Africa, providing practical skills and resources crucial for their growth. The Hustle Academy Fund stands as a testament to the resilience and innovation of Nigerian small businesses, serving as the backbone of the economy.