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ECOWAS working to create thriving startup ecosystem — Elumelu



The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it is working towards creating an ecosystem, where startups thrive and the subregion leads in innovation, attracting investment and empowering its youth.

ECOWAS acting Director, Private Sector, Anthony Elumelu, stated this during the preparatory meeting for the 2nd West African startups awards on Tuesday in Abuja.

Elumelu said that achieving this aim would require stakeholders collaborating beyond borders, stressing that together they would build bridges, break down barriers, and amplify opportunities.

“As we embark on this journey, I invite each of you to be an ambassador for West African startups.

“Mentor a young founder, invest in a promising venture, or champion an innovative solution. Together, we can create a legacy that transcends generations.

“Let us remember that startups are not just businesses; they are dreams, taking flight. Let us be their wind beneath the wings,” he said.

Elumelu described startups as the heartbeat of innovation, the dreamers, the risk-takers, and the change-makers.

“From fintech to healthtech, from sustainable energy to agribusiness, our startups are redefining what’s possible.

“Their resilience and creativity inspire us all. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to nurturing the startup ecosystem in West Africa, “ he said.

Elumelu, however, said that it was not enough to envision an ECOWAS startup ecosystem, stressing that stakeholders must support and advocate for policies that foster innovation, ease regulatory burdens, and encourage risk-taking.

He also urged them to work tirelessly towards ensuring that startups had access to funding, mentorship, and networks, besides building capacity by investing in skills development, mentorship programs, and knowledge-sharing platforms.

The private sector director further called for collaboration across borders, sharing of best practices, learning from one another, as well as gender equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“We stand on the shoulders of the success of the inaugural West African Startups Award.

“It was not merely an event; it was a catalyst, a spark that ignited innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship across our region.

“The Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS recognized its impact and unanimously endorsed its continuation as an annual tradition,” he added.

It was reported that the participants were drawn from financial institutions, the academia, international organisations, implementing partners, migration organizations, and ECOWAS institutions, among others.

Mark Longyen

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