US Nigeria Council Champions Partnerships in Tech and Innovation, New York City (September 2018)

NEW YORK CITY – The US Nigeria Council (USNC), a business organization dedicated to deepening commercial ties between the US and Nigeria, hosted a roundtable breakfast in New York City on Tuesday, September 25th. The event took place on the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly and gathered over forty-five leading Nigerian and American business executives and high-level public officials. Further to USNC’s mission to promote bilateral business partnership and growth, the breakfast focused on entrepreneurial investment in the technology and innovation ecosystem.

Hosted by Chairman Ambassador Terence McCulley, Co-Chair John Coumantaros of Flour Mills of Nigeria, and Executive Director Eliot Pence, the Council’s breakfast served as a forum for connecting investors with potential investees to mobilize capital for Nigerian start-ups and companies. The event brought together a range of ecosystem players to discuss innovation and entrepreneurial partnerships in technology. Executive Director Eliot Pence commented on the role of USNC in bringing together influential entrepreneurs to combat market challenges, stating “Capital is one barrier, market access is another. USNC bridges that gap.”

HM Okey Enelamah, Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, attended the event and addressed the crowd about the crucial need to leverage technology to address local challenges as well as efforts by the Nigerian government to strengthen the enabling environment for businesses to operate. HM Enelamah commended the Council for its work, stating “Nigeria stands to benefit from your effort.” He also spoke to the power of partnership and the exceptional stature of the “serial entrepreneur” members of USNC, adding “if you are looking for courage in business, it’s found in this room.”

The commitment of USNC members was represented by the participation of Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank PLC; Wale Tinubu of Oando; Kola Aina of Ventures Platform; Tunde Folawiyo of Yinka Folawiyo Group; Ambassador John Negroponte of McLarty Associates; Christina Sass of Andela; Femi Akinware of Exchange Telecommunications Ltd; and Mamadou Beye of Chevron. Throughout the breakfast, members from various sectors shared updates, such as Ventures Platform’s remarks on its recently announced Corporate Leaders Fund that aims to increase market access by investing in start-ups. Other notable attendees included Kayode Pitan, CEO of Bank of Industry of Nigeria; Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission; Nigerian NBA star Festus Ezeli and executives from Renaissance Capital, Lateral Capital, Bechtel International Inc., Zephyr Management, and Lori Systems.

Ventures Platform and US-Nigeria  Council Announce Corporate  Leaders Fund

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA — Early-stage VC firm, Ventures Platform (www.venturesplatform.com) today announces its Corporate Leaders Fund, in partnership with the US-Nigeria Council, continuing its mission of finding Africa’s boldest entrepreneurs and supporting them with smart capital to power growth.

This announcement is coming on the sidelines of the recent Investment and Technology summit held at Silicon Valley to promote Nigeria’s growing tech ecosystem and finding  stronger ways to synergise with the Valley’s tech ecosystem players around capital, mentorship and capacity development. The high powered Nigerian delegation of senior policy-makers and young tech ecosystem actors was led by the Nigerian Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, during which the agreement was signed.

Speaking about the partnership, Kola Aina, Founding Partner of Ventures Platform said, “We are really excited about the opportunity to get Nigerian corporations and corporate leaders involved in supporting the inevitable future, and we’re pleased to have such an important organization as the US-Nigeria Council join us to make this journey possible.”

With the participation of select corporate partners, leaders and executives of major Nigerian organizations and members of the US-Nigeria Council, the fund is aimed at backing proven entrepreneurs with domain expertise building innovative startups to solve enterprise challenges. Investee companies will be strategically aligned with objectives of the fund’s corporate backers.

The Ventures Platform – USNC Corporate Leaders Fund will target post MVP stage companies, investing up to $250,000 initially, with the potential to follow on in later rounds. It will give Nigeria’s established organizations the opportunity to participate in the next wave of companies that will define the country’s future. Beyond capital, the fund will provide investee companies with access to market and distribution, growth support and partnerships, talent development, technology, and expertise from the fund backers and partners.

USNC Executive Director, Eliot Pence, said “We see the partnership with Ventures Platform as an important step towards USNC’s mission of advancing US-Nigerian commercial relations. The fund will further align the interests of corporations with entrepreneurs and investors. Ultimately, our goal with this partnership is to deepen, diversify and develop the commercial activity in the tech ecosystem and accelerate investor outcomes. We’re thrilled to work with Ventures to advance that.”

About Ventures Platform 

Ventures Platform is an Africa-focused early-stage VC firm that finds funds, and supports  Africa’s boldest entrepreneurs, solving important problems across the continent.

We invest in early revenue tech-enabled companies in fast-growing markets, with existing positive offline indicators, sustainable competitive advantage, the potential to generate $100 million ARR in 10 years, and led by visionary and accountable founders. While Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa are our primary focus,we back winners across the continent, including African-founded companies building products for the global market.

US Nigeria Council Hosts Spring Reception and Dinner in Washington | Washington, DC (April, 2018)

 

Washington DC, April 19, 2018 — The US Nigeria Council (USNC), a business organization dedicated to deepening commercial ties between the US and Nigeria, held its annual Spring reception and members-dinner on the margin of the World Bank-IMF meetings in Washington DC. As part of the event, the Council introduced its new chairman, Terence McCulley, former US Ambassador to Nigeria. The Council reception had over 100 US and Nigerian senior executives in attendance.  Nigerian Ambassador Sylvanus Nsofor participated in the reception and pledged embassy support for USNC efforts.

In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of the Council, Eliot Pence, said that the Council was founded to act as a convener, clearinghouse and catalyst for business and investment opportunities for US and Nigerian firms. He added that the reception and dinner was the fourth of its kind following successful dinners and receptions in Washington DC, New York and Lagos since its inception in 2016.

Speaking at the reception, Council Chairman, Ambassador McCulley, said that the US Nigeria Council “is the only group focused solely on facilitating US-Nigerian joint ventures and partnerships, and it has succeeded in meeting its goals, with deals emerging from every reception and dinner it has hosted.” He added that council is currently working with the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment on industrialization efforts and have been helping one of its members, Zipline, advance its innovative project in Nigeria to deliver blood and essential medication via drones.

The reception was immediately followed by a business dinner targeted at driving deals and fostering stronger relationships between businesses. The Co-Chair of the council and Chairman of Flour Mills Nigeria, John Coumantaros, appreciated the presence of senior business executives at the dinner. He noted that the US Nigeria Council is laser-focused on deepening the US-Nigeria commercial partnerships at a critical time.

“At these dinners, we seek to uncover areas of shared interest and pave the way toward joint ventures, partnerships and diversified investments. USNC has supported entrepreneurs in Nigeria to grow. Tomato Jos, for example, has received additional investment that enabled the company to invest in irrigation, additional land and access the full range of support and expertise from agribusinesses like Flour Mills of Nigeria, but also other member companies” added John Coumantaros.

In his closing remarks, Ambassador McCulley noted that in five years, the Council can look back and say that the partnerships and relationships formed between U.S. and Nigerian members significantly and measurably contributed to Nigeria’s development, economic diversification, and job creation. He acknowledged founding members: Dangote Group, Oando, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Chevron and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the young entrepreneurs who attended the reception and dinner.

About the United States Nigeria Council

The USNC is the go-to C-suite access point for large-scale US and Nigerian investors seeking opportunities for joint ventures and catalytic partnerships.  The Council membership includes leading organizations such as Chevron, Dangote Group, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Flour Mills of Nigeria, McLarty Associates, Zenith Bank, Andela, Access Bank, Oando, Yinka Folawiyo Group and Seplat.

To learn more about USNC, please visit www.usnigeriacouncil.org.

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The United States Nigeria Council Appoints Ambassador Terence McCulley as Chairman

Washington DC, January 16, 2018 — The United States Nigeria Council (USNC), a business organization dedicated to deepening commercial ties between the US and Nigeria, announced the appointment of Ambassador Terence McCulley as its new Chairman. Ambassador McCulley served as US ambassador to Nigeria from 2010 to 2013.

The US-Nigeria Council, launched in 2016, acts as a convener, clearinghouse and catalyst for business and investment opportunities for US and Nigerian firms. From its offices in Washington, DC and Lagos, USNC develops targeted partnerships between members with an aim to catalyze a new wave of diversified investment and inclusive growth. In addition to its continued work in agricultural supply chain development, the Council will focus on the ICT sector in 2018.

Speaking on the appointment of Ambassador McCulley, Eliot Pence, the Executive Director of USNC said, “Ambassador McCulley has a proven track record in promoting businesses and diplomatic relations between the two countries. His leadership and experience will play a huge role as we forge a backbone of strong joint ventures between companies, funds and entrepreneurs.”

Ambassador McCulley has a distinguished diplomatic career in Africa. In addition to his posting in Nigeria, McCulley served as the US Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire from 2013 to 2016 and Mali from 2005 to 2008. Reacting to his appointment, Ambassador McCulley said, “As a former Ambassador to Nigeria, I understand the importance of the US-Nigeria Council in facilitating meaningful partnerships between Nigerian and American companies.” He added that “Nigeria is an indispensable destination for US investment; the country represents the largest market in Africa with over 180 million consumers and it is attracting an increasing number of US corporations. USNC is doing important work in focusing on deal execution and I am excited to be a part of the team.”

The Co-Chair of the council and Chairman of Flour Mills Nigeria, John Coumantaros, welcomed the appointment of Ambassador McCulley: “We are honored to have Ambassador McCulley as a leader in USNC efforts. He deeply understands the Nigerian operational context and has the diplomatic skills needed to strengthen commercial relationships between US and Nigerian companies.” Mr. Uche Orji, CEO of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and Co-chair of the USNC, echoed the sentiment, saying “Ambassador McCulley is a recognized leader who blends diplomatic skills with a business acumen.”

US Nigeria Council Deal Dinner | New York, New York (September 2017)


The US Nigeria Council (USNC) convened a dinner with the top US investors with interest in Nigeria in New York on Wednesday, 20th of September 2017 on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

The dinner, co-hosted by John Coumantaros, Chairman of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc, Uche Orji, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, and Ambassador John Negroponte, Vice-Chairman of McLarty Associates, gathered leaders of Nigerian and American businesses. Council members and dinner participants focused on the need to create a competitive ICT cluster that will further develop the digital economy in Nigeria.

US businesses attending the dinner included Google, Walmart, IBM, Tetra Tech, and American Tower. Among the leading investors at the event were Citi, Denham Capital, Fairfax Africa, CRE Ventures, Development Partners International, Atlas Mara and Zephyr Management.

The commitment of Nigerian businesses to the USNC was demonstrated by the active participation of Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank, Adewale Tinubu of Oando, Tunde Folawiyo of Yinka Folawiyo Group, Abdulrazaq Isa of Waltersmith, Kola Karim of Shoreline Energy, and Oscar Onyema of the Nigeria Stock Exchange. The dinner welcomed a diverse group of entrepreneurs who have started companies in technology, agribusiness, e-commerce and education, including Cars45, Royal Power, GidiMobile, Flutterwave, RxAll, and Lidya.

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US Nigeria Council Breakfast Briefing | Lagos, Nigeria (July 2017)


Convening leading Nigerian and American businesses, the U.S. Nigeria Council held an intimate breakfast briefing and discussion in Lagos in July 2017.

Hosted by Eliot Pence, Executive Director of USNC, and Aubrey Hruby, Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, the event was attended by the leadership of Nigeria’s largest companies and major US investors. Council members received an exclusive briefing by a top level official from the US Embassy on the state of US-Nigeria Commercial Dialogue.

US and Nigerian business commitments were representative through the active participation of high level delegations, including from Dangote, Oando, Zenith Capital, Google, Oracle, Accenture, Dow, Caryle, KPMG, Deloitte, Monsanto, LASB, Dufil, 7UP, ANAP Jets, Westron Group, Verod, Greenwish Partners, and Nigerian government officials.

The Council’s breakfast was also attended by young entrepreneurs who have started companies in technology, agribusiness, e-commerce and education, such as Tomato Jos and Andela.

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US Nigeria Council Launch Dinner | Lagos, Nigeria (March 2017)


Convening leading Nigerian and American businesses, the U.S. Nigeria Council held its Nigerian launch in Lagos in March 2017.

Hosted by John Coumantaros, Chairman of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc (FMN) and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) CEO, Uche Orji, the launch dinner was attended by the US Ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the US Counsel General John Bray and the leadership of Nigeria’s largest companies and major US investors.

The Nigerian business commitment to USNC was represented by the active participation of Alhaji Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group, Oba Oteduko of Honeywell Group, Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank Plc, Akinsowon Dawodu of Citibank Nigeria, Adewale Tinubu of Oando, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede of WAPIC, and Abdulsamad Rabiu of BUA Group amongst others. The Dow Chemical Company, Chevron, UPS, Procter&Gamble, ExxonMobil and Uber were some of the US businesses that sent senior delegations. The Council also includes young entrepreneurs who have started companies in technology, agribusiness, e-commerce and education, including Tomato Jos, Mall for Africa and Andela.

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US Nigeria Council Launch Event | Washington, DC (April 2016)


The U.S. Nigeria Council welcomed high-level private and public sector representatives for a reception and dinner on April 14, 2016. With remarks from Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State and the Council Co-Chairs. Guests were introduced to USNC’s vision and objectives.

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