Recently, Microsoft honored the achievements of 25 Nigerian entrepreneurs who graduated from the #Insiders4Good Fellowship, at a ceremony held at the InterContinental Hotel in Lagos. The #Insiders4Good Fellowship is a program launched by Microsoft in partnership with Co-Creation Hub. At the ceremony, the entrepreneurs also pitched their business ideas to Microsoft executives and potential local partners and investors.
In his keynote speech, Bambo Sofola, Microsoft Director of Software Engineering, said, “Last year, we were excited to launch the first #Insiders4Good Fellowship in Nigeria, where so many exceptional entrepreneurs are using technology to create positive change in their communities. By supporting the growth of the Nigerian #Insiders4Good Fellows, we’ve learned valuable insights about the challenges they face in their unique contexts and how Microsoft products can grow and evolve to support them best. Today, we are thrilled to showcase their extraordinary ideas and celebrate their achievements.”
Out of 5,000 applicants, the 25 fellows were selected last September. They were selected based on their extraordinary ideas to create positive change in Nigeria, Africa, and the world. Their products and services are set to tackle entrenched problems like illiteracy, kidnapping, agricultural waste, healthcare access, and much more.
As part of the Fellowship, the entrepreneurs attended an intensive “bootcamp”—a series of group workshops led by Microsoft staff during which they identified needs, set goals, and created road maps for taking their businesses to the next level. Each Fellow received a suite of Microsoft hardware and software and six months of tailored technical and strategic mentorship from local and international leaders.
“The #Insiders4Good Fellowship has been incredibly helpful,” Kido Chukwunweike and Kelechi Odoemena said prior to the event. Their startup, Dillish Instant Foods, was one of seven businesses invited by the Microsoft team to present at a private pitch session before the ceremony. “The Fellowship motivated us to prove that there is real demand for our product and pushed us to launch our ‘MVP’ product. We’ve started to see the challenges we face as individual hurdles to overcome, rather than a single huge obstacle. We learned to set smart interim goals. We feel very positive and proud of our progress.”
The program came to an end with the graduation event, during which Bambo Sofola recognized each Fellow on stage with a plaque of distinction.
Paula Aliu, who has launched an online platform for mental health services called Cogno-Aid, looked back on her journey as a Fellow. “My experience with the fellowship program has being greatly rewarding whilst challenging in a positive way,” Aliu said. “Over the course of the past six months plus, I have had the honor of meeting and interacting with a solid group of individuals comprising both Fellows and mentors from Microsoft and Co-Creation Hub. These wonderful people aided in fleshing out and building Cogno-Aid from an idea to what it is today. For this, I am forever grateful for the guidance given to me courtesy of the #Insiders4Good Fellowship.”
The Microsoft team and Co-Creation Hub will continue to foster connections between the Nigerian Fellows and Windows Insiders, a global community of over 10 million Windows users.