On Sunday, May 28, 2017 I and some founders from the 2016 ’50 Startups to Watch in Port Harcourt’ paid a visit to the residence of Professor Nimi Briggs, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt to create awareness for the Startup Port Harcourt movement and to intimate him on their ongoing project.
The give back project is the intended launch of a publication known as The Startup Port Harcourt Guide – a practical guide to starting and scaling a startup in Port Harcourt.
The visit was part of a series of familiarisation visits to key stakeholders and icons in academia, industry, and government. Prof Nimi Briggs is fondly remembered for transforming the University of Port Harcourt and he has been an active voice in challenging the Niger Delta Youths to shun violence and to use technology to develop their region, so the visit was in order.
Present at the visit were; Stella Peter Nnaji (Fendwall Paints), Precious Amadi Okere (Orishirishi Naija), Francisca Nwume (myfoodyshop.com), Stanley Igwe (Wefix.com.ng), Daniel Akibor (Throway), Kalada Briggs (Trackam.com.ng), Victor Tubotamuno (Wokkaholic.com), Bereni D. Fiberesima (CEO Netopps and Convener, Startup Port Harcourt Week) and myself.
Our host Prof Nimi Briggs was delighted to receive us. We took turns introducing ourselves and our startups and Prof Briggs showed a keen interest in conversing and engaging with each person about their background and startup.
After the introductions, Prof Nimi Briggs was given an update on the ’50 Startups to Watch in Port Harcourt’ initiative which debuted in 2016 as part of the activities of the Startup Port Harcourt Week which is aimed at inspiring, motivating, boosting visibility and exposing Port Harcourt startups to the right market and opportunities within and outside the country. He was also notified of the 2017 Startup Port Harcourt Week, scheduled to hold from the 26th November – 2nd December 2017.
The aim of the initiative is to play a major role in boosting the startup community to take the lead in building a better business environment. 34 startups made the pioneer list in 2016 and were tasked with the responsibility of publishing a complete guide to starting and running a business in Port Harcourt. The guide will feature stories of experiences of the founders. It’ll also have lessons learned and information on relevant organisations and agencies to deal with.
The book would be expected to bridge the information gap and clear the confusion in the Port Harcourt business environment and bring everyone on the same page. For its launch, a Town Hall meeting which will focus on the Ease of Doing Business in Port Harcourt will be held during the 2017 Startup Port Harcourt Week. On the 1st of December 2017, key stakeholders from government, industry, the academia, the media, and the international community will gather to discuss the book and enhance the conversation about creating a better business environment.
Port Harcourt stands to gain tremendously from the publication, which is guided partly by the parameters of the World Bank’s Ease of Business rating, as it would open a new chapter in doing business in Port Harcourt. It would also potentially set the city on the part of becoming Africa’s best city to do business in, and the home of the continent’s most successful startups and corporations.
Prof Briggs thanked the group for the visit and indicated his interest in supporting the movement in whatever capacity that is within his reach. He was delighted with the intended publication and offered suggestions and advice on what should be featured in it. Right there, he marked the date of the Town Hall Conversation in his schedule and promised to be present at the gathering.
Prof Briggs was also very pleased with the stories of entrepreneurship and innovation that was spoken of by us all. He was particularly glad about hearing of young men and women in Port Harcourt who are investing in their future by starting their own businesses and companies.
The Startup Port Harcourt group came bearing a gift, a book – The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson – which was offered to Prof Briggs. He expressed his appreciation and offered a prayer of blessing for us.
We took pictures with him and left for our respective homes pleased with the successful outcome of our visit.