Nigerian drone start-up gets capital injection

Today we are celebrating with Integrated Aerial Precision (IAP), a Nigerian drone-based precision agriculture start-up that has received a helping of €45,000 investment injection.

This is a massive shot in the arm for the start-up, which got access to the capital after shrugging off still competition from nineteen other deserving Nigerian start-ups to win an incubation programme sponsored by the Kingdom of Netherlands.

An initiative of the Orange Corners Nigeria Innovation Fund, and implemented in the country by the FATE Foundation, this particular programme is a business incubator and accelerator programme aimed at promoting the entrepreneur ecosystem in Nigeria.

“In April, Integrated Aerial Precision, was awarded the Orange Corner Innovation Fund (OCIF) Grand Prize, helping us secure a total of €45, 000 after the 6-month intensive incubator program consisting of 20 meticulously selected start-up founders,” enthused Femi Adekoya the founder and Managing Director of IAP

“To be honest, I am still humbled and grateful for this award because it was such a huge validation of what we are building, and a great financial boost for our start-up.”

It is indeed good money.

And we especially loved the part of the story where the start-up’s managing director got the good news in the most African way possible: a series of bad luck throughout the day, culminating in a phone call that would change an entrepreneur’s life forever.

But before that, let us get an understanding of how this whole thing works: the programme starts at the beginning of each six-month cycle an initial 50 hopeful start-ups are selected from thousands of applications.

The applicants have to be aged between eighteen and 35 years, and their business enterprise has to offer innovative solutions that are sustainable, and solving local challenges focused on the circular economy, agriculture, health, renewable energy, technology and water conservation industries.

The 50 semi-finalists will then be invited to participate in a compulsory two-day-long bootcamp in which a jury decides which are the 30 young business best placed to join the incubation programme. Selection will be conducted according to the performance during the bootcamp.

At the end of this short bootcamp, 20 young entrepreneurs will be selected for the six-month long incubation, where they get invaluable insights into running a successful business.

This period also ends with a final pitch by all the young entrepreneurs, to emerge with the one most deserving of the €45,000 investment pot.

After the first incubation, Adekoye returned home to resume his daily life of spending time in people’s fields, spraying their crops and offering drone-based precision agriculture solutions.

“While waiting for pitch day, I was far away in the rural parts of Edo State, where my team and I were carrying out a drone spraying operation on a cassava field,” Adekoya narrates.

At this fledgling stage of our operation, we do not own the drones we use yet; we them out from suppliers.

“And it just had to be on this day that our hired drone decided it was going to crash and plunge us into crippling debt. As I contemplated how we were going to replace this $5,000 crop spraying beast, I got the call that it was time to return to Bootcamp HQ for the final pitch.

“Obviously after the ordeal with the lost drone, I was feeling discouraged and devasted. But I did not let this deter me from giving our young business a good shot at a real scaling up opportunity.

“And because of this, not only did we get accepted into the OCN Incubation program, which provided us with funds (€5,000) to get back the crashed borrowed drone into operation and even later owning it.

“Moreover, IAP finally emerged as the grand prize winner of the OCIF pitch competition (Cohort 7) and I now work with the Netherlands Consulate as one of the youth advisory committee members leading the agriculture thematic area.”

Congratulations indeed.

It is a source of pride for the industry that a lot of drone technology start-ups have been performing really admirably in incubation programmes across Africa, with start-ups from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, and Cote d’Ivoire realising success in the respective programmes they applied for.


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