CoLab is Kaduna’s (and Northern Nigeria’s) first Innovation Hub and Co-Working space. Beyond that, we also want to grow a collaborative community of Programmers, Developers, Designers, Bloggers, Graphic Designers, Photographers, Entrepreneurs, Freelancers, Startups and Tech enthusiasts generally.
Three things inspired us to set it up:
The fact that over time, the best IT people (from programmers to network engineers to big data scientists to Internet of Things (IoT) hobbyists) we had come across have been from around Kaduna, yet very few of them understood the value of the skill(s) they had or had ever tried to apply it to solving actual problems.
Technology is the single biggest vehicle for taking people out of poverty and poverty in these part of the country is rampant.
Kaduna is ideal for a startup/technology hub – On the average, there is better power here than anywhere else I’ve been to in this country, the cost of living is low, basic infrastructure is on ground. There’s fast enough internet, a lot of talent, and a number of tertiary institutions (which are an important factor in creating a pipeline for talent). It is also in close proximity to two key markets (Kano and Abuja) and can access a third, Lagos via air and train (for people and goods respectively).
The long-term goal is to make Kaduna as a whole an IT hub; the go-to place in Nigeria, when there’s any IT related need. With time, who knows? Maybe it’ll be the next India. There’s no telling how far it can go, our goal is just to push as far as I can.
With CoLab, we intend to make this push by trying to achieve 5 things:
Provide an environment that allows natural curiosity, fosters learning, and inspires creativity and innovation. we’ve gone all out to make the space as aesthetically motivating as possible within budget constraints and everyone that has come to there so far has been wowed. We believe that given the right environment, smart people interacting with each other naturally tend to create stuff. Currently, our facilities include: two Outdoor workspaces (in view), two open indoor workspaces (completed), a private meeting room (70% done), a conference room (90% done), internet, constant power supply and a modern library with paper books and kindles. You’ll find some pictures below:
Offer high level mentorship from both national and international mentors who have made impact globally or have experience working in some of the top startups and tech companies both in Nigeria and globally…Programmers, Business Developers, Investment Bankers, Lawyers e.t.c. We believe a well rounded education is key to building or fitting into billion dollar companies, so we want to double down on not just ICT knowledge, but also everything else that is required to succeed. We currently have the Ex Director of Global Search at Yahoo as one of our international mentors, also the former VP of an Investment bank in the UK as another. Such mentors can’t be found here, so we intend to have them Skype in from time to time for general sessions and also one-on-one when the need arises.
Train anyone interested in the ICT skills that are necessary to compete at an international level. We’re talking Code, UI & UX Design, Blogging, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, IoT e.t.c. We will cover today’s languages and global best practices. We want to give people skills at levels where they can compete anywhere in the world. We see that there is a high demand for these specific skills across the world, yet we have many who could easily fit into such positions, with some training. Most of these roles can be filled remotely, so we can have a situation where people can work from CoLab for companies across the world. However, we are not pushy about them remaining domiciled here.
Beyond training, we’ll also go a step further and try to link members of our community with jobs and opportunities, both remote and physical from across the country and globally. From personally experience, I believe that the best way to break the mentality that the only way to earn a living is via a structured, salaried job (civil service, banks, etc.) which is prevalent in these parts is to actually link people up with an alternate means to earn a living.
Lastly, we also intend to build an in-house team of the best brains, which we can use to tackle national and global problems. It’s one of the ways we think we can attract attention back to Kaduna and also probably the only way to be profitable because even our subscription fees are being decided by the public and have no bearing on what it’ll cost to setup fully and run day to day. You’ll find the survey about our pricing here.