While you come here for insights from entrepreneurs in Africa, it feels entirely inappropriate to proceed with content as usual during the present state of affairs in Nigeria.
For those less intimately familiar, #EndSARS is a protest and social media campaign against police brutality and state-sanctioned violence in Nigeria. During this past week – the third week of protests – events escalated severely, with the Nigerian Army firing on protesters on Tuesday night in what’s being called the “Lekki Massacre”. The next day, as the government denied there were any casualties, despite literal evidence to the contrary, Nigerians experienced more shooting and killing at the hands of the army and police in broad daylight, and in full view of Nigerians’ cameraphones. Nigeria’s President Buhari, in his statement several days later, cautioned not to misconstrue the promptness with which the government “disbanded” SARS as weakness.
When I started The Flip and had the opportunity to speak to and learn from Nigerian entrepreneurs, I quickly became awestruck at their resilience and ambition in, and in spite of an immensely difficult, cognitively draining environment. It’s many of these same entrepreneurs who put their work on hold to transparently raise money for victims and to feed protesters, to launch an End SARS helpline and Response Unit, to provide free hotels to those stranded in Lagos, and much more.
While small scale, it’s nonetheless a positive demonstration of what can be built in a short amount of time in spite of (or perhaps because of) disadvantageous circumstances.
We often hear early-stage investors talk about backing strong founders. Is there anywhere else in the world the caliber of individuals worth backing than in Nigeria? The same is true of many other African entrepreneurs elsewhere on the continent I’ve had the privilege of spending time with, as well.
Though that’s a topic for another time. For now, I wish for everyone to stay safe, and hope that these events may help to catalyze the change we wish to see in Nigeria.