Google has announced the opening of applications for a N75 million equity-free fund dedicated to amplifying the ambitions of Nigerian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
The initiative, themed, ‘Hustle Academy SMB Fund’, offers N5 million to 15 Nigerian small business owners.
According to a statement on Thursday, applications for the fund are open on September 28, 2023, and will close on October 12.
“Google’s Hustle Academy, introduced in 2022, provides SMEs with business and management education, mentoring, and networking, with a particular emphasis on preparing them to package their businesses in order to raise the necessary capital to take their businesses to the next level,” the statement reads.
“Since its inception, the program has graduated over 4,000 SMBs in Nigeria, with a notable 74% from the first year reporting marked business growth.”
To be eligible for the fund, Google said businesses must be Nigerian-founded, operating within Nigeria for one to five years, and have a clear and scalable business plan.
Interested businesses, the tech giant added, should have a track record of commitment to growth, operate in sectors aligned with the digital economy or have a digital enablement strategy, and (while not mandatory) previous participation in the hustle academy programme would be an added advantage.
According to Google, the fund earmarks a N75 million pool exclusively for Nigeria to support 15 investor-ready SMBs through non-dilutive funding.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, head of brand and reputation, sub-Saharan Africa at Google, said the fund is a testament to the resilience and innovation of Nigerian small businesses, which are the backbone of the economy.
“We are hopeful that this fund will further empower them to succeed and drive economic growth, creating jobs and opportunities for all Nigerians,” she said.
On her part, Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf, product marketing manager and the hustle academy program lead at Google, said the fund provides SMBs with the resources and support they need to succeed.
More information, including application procedures, can be found here.