El-Rufai returns to private sector with $100m venture capital

Nasir El-Rufai

Former governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai has returned to the private sector to launch a $100 million venture capital fund for startups in Nigeria, particularly those in the Kaduna tech ecosystem.

Mr El-Rufai, a trained quantity surveyor, unveiled plans on Monday to establish Afri-Venture Capital Company Ltd which is set to kick off operations in Abuja in early 2024.

He said the firm aims to support and finance Nigerian and African innovators to shape the next generation of entrepreneurial giants.

El-Rufai said he would be the company’s part-time chairman with Jimi Lawal, Hafiz Bayero, Eyo Ekpo, and Kabir Yabo as founding directors and initial shareholders.

In his post on X on Monday, El-Rufai wrote, “I can confirm that our VC-PE firm, Afri-Venture Capital Company Ltd will by the Grace of God, begin operations initially in Abuja in January 2024 with Jimi Lawal, Hafiz Bayero, Eyo Ekpo and Kabir Yabo as founding directors and initial shareholders. I am privileged to be the part-time Chairman of the Board.”

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The former FCT minister said the venture holds promise for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators, signalling a wave of support and opportunity in the African business landscape.

“What young people need is essentially mentoring and financing to get things going. They develop the idea and see whether it is viable. And we will open doors for them because they don’t have contact.

“They don’t know or have access to ministers, presidents, or regulatory agencies. We do. We know the minefields that they have to navigate. We know that they need to give them appointments and we can provide them with the startup funding and in return we take an equity position.

“We don’t want to take your business; we want to develop it. But if we take the risk on you, we will take a percentage of the business,” El-Rufai told Business Day.

El-Rufai was nominated to join President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet but did not pass the security check.