#CCHub is in its full element – Co-founder, ‘Bosun Tijani

by Collins Eboru

To round up our major feature this week on the exciting Co-Creation Hub, we speak to one of its two co-founders on the vision, the success and the future

What is the concept behind the hub?

The hub is an innovation nest which serves as the rallying point for Co-creation Hub’s overall objective of accelerating the application of social capital and technology for economic development in Nigeria. This first of its kind technology hub is designed as an Open Laboratory where user-driven innovation is fully integrated in the process of developing new services, products and societal infrastructures in Nigeria.

Our goal is to build an institution with the right systems in place to spot and pull diverse resources behind “unreasonable” novel ideas which are capable of catalysing change in Nigeria.

CcHUB in its full element thus acts as a place for social entrepreneurs, technologists, government, private companies, researchers and impact investors in and around Lagos to work and co-create new solutions to Nigeria’s social problems.

How has the Nigerian populace received it?

Nigerians are undoubtedly passionate about change and the need to move the nation forward. CcHUB is being warmly received by a community of progressives (individuals and corporate) whose passion, expertise and network are central to the change we are driving. In our first 6 months, we have attracted:

450+ active community members – who participate in our open living lab, events and trainings

75+ daily users of the hub – who works and leverage resources available in the hub for their ventures/projects

21 start-ups and projects in pre-incubation – being mentored and supported by CcHUB and our network of partners

16+ active corporate members – providing strategic support to our goal of harnessing creativity for social change

Our vibrant community includes diverse stakeholders from different walks of life shown in the diagram below:

3. What challenges have you faced and how have you been able to handle them?

Beyond typical challenges faced by start-ups which we are poised to navigate, the business environment in Nigeria is our biggest source of headache. We are arguably the only innovation hub in the world that spends over $2,000 maintaining a power generator every month. Due to lack of infrastructure, we paid over 25,000$ for wireless equipment despite enjoying a free annual Internet supply worth $80,000 from Main One Cable Company.

The business environment is thus one aspect of the society which we hope to apply our methodology as we evolve. Our flagship initiative in this space is the Lagos Innovation Hotspots Mapping which aims to provide policy makers, development practitioners, researchers and business community information for assessing the innovation assets and regional cluster strength of Lagos State (http://lagosinnovation.com/). This will then be used to engage authorities in the development of micro-economic interventions that supports creativity and entrepreneurship as against the current systems that stifles them.

4. Why is the hub important?

The apparent need for Good Governance in Nigeria speaks to the importance of institutions like CcHUB. The 2011 Mo Ibrahim Good Governance Index puts Nigeria at 41 out of 53 African countries (4 places down from its 2010 position) – while our natural reaction is to rightly blame the sad situation on the government, it would be surprising to find that this index measures the level of delivery of public goods and services to citizens by government and NON-STATE ACTORS (civil society, private organisations and permit me to add; knowledgeable individuals). Governance in a democratic setting is not the sole responsibility of government but our collective burden. More than ever, we need to put our collective intelligence at work to achieve our common goal if we are to build an inclusive society.

On the contrary however, the World Bank Doing Business Index ranks Nigeria 134 out of 183 countries indicating the difficulty of doing business in Nigeria let alone running a social enterprise with focus on addressing social challenges. The environment undeniably stifles creativity thus limiting the contribution of non-state actors. This limitation is what CcHUB is established to tackle by building a community of progressives and resources directed at enabling social creativity and technology for the development of Nigeria. The hub provides a nexus point through which we can collectively overcome and create solutions to barriers inhibiting the growth of our society.

5. What opportunities does it provide for young people?

CcHUB limits the barrier and activate resources for Nigerians (young and old) to create the future through innovation and entrepreneurship. We provide a state-of-the-art facility for creative individuals to work and network while growing their ideas for the overall benefit of our society. In addition, we provide;

  1. Access to knowledge partnership for development of technology prototypes
  2. Business advisory support which includes training and mentorship
  3. Seed funding to support experimentation and early stage product testing
  4. Investment opportunity through our network of local and international impact investors

6. The army roof blown off, how did you raise money for this? (please attach some pics of the reconstruction process)

The barracks’ roof was severely damaged by the heavy storm that greeted Lagos in the wake of 13th February, 2012 which was to be followed by a week-long rainfall. The rain threatened to wreck further havoc on the building; possibly leaving about 50 families homeless. Aware of the possible delay in repair by government, the CcHUB community took on the challenge of fixing the roof by using technology to crowd fund support from well meaning individuals within and outside Nigeria.

A team of software developers from the hub developed a web platform (http://www.cchubnigeria.com/barracksaid/) and used social media sites (twitter and facebook) to solicit support for the initiative. In less than 24hrs, over 100,000 Naira was raised while news on the project continued to spread far and wide. In about 4 days, the campaign attracted a total of 293,900 Naira from 43 donors (individuals) and the project was completed on the 23rd of February 2012.

7. What brought about the thought reaching out to people to help out the barracks?

The barracks situation is one of many situations in which we thought our work could be of direct relevance. Pulling resources together to address issues of this nature not only cater for the direct needs of the immediate beneficiaries but also saves the building from further damage which could inherently cost the society much more to fix if allowed to degenerate.

8. Can we have a report of the Google Hackathon that was held at the CCHub.

See report below as written by Femi Taiwo – GTUG Nigeria coordinator

CCHub was the place. Saturday March 17th was the day, Google+ was the API and hacking was the name of the game. Developers from all over Nigeria gathered to build creative and use apps based on the GooglePlus API and at the end of the day, we had over 8 applications presented by the various teams, each with a unique offering that said a lot of good about the creative juices running amongst Nigerian developers.

The winning app was LifeSavers  – a fantastic platform which analyzes posts and comments on Google+ for signs of depression – the usual precursor to suicide (yes – suicide, which is slowly becoming more common across the world). The team received two android phones and an automatic entry to the second round – hopefully to win a ticket to the Google I/O event coming up in June.

 

Other hacks include Countries of the World, Alpha, OtherWords, Realtor Cast, quiz-o-crazy, Feed Monitor and still several others.

More about the winning app

LifeSavers – a web based platform built during the gplus hackathon after gNigeria 2012 – was awarded the best prize (in Africa) – a ticket to Google IO in recognition of their efforts and the potential of the idea.

LifeSavers is a platform that seeks to help the emotionally vulnerable in the society.

It was the winning application at the Google+ hackathon in Nigeria held earlier this month (March 2012), and was automatically entered to compete with other submissions from other African countries.

It was developed by:

Oyewale Oyediran

Maxwell Udoba

Boyewa Akindolani

Hosted: http://www.lifesaversplus.org/

You can use the tag ‘#hackgplus’ on Google+ to see photos and other entries (https://plus.google.com/s/%23hackgplus)

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