The Federal Government has launched an engagement portal to register startups in the country as part of implementing the Nigeria Startup Act.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, announced this Tuesday night. The portal will also be used to engage with Venture Capital companies, hubs, and innovation centres, according to the Minister.
This development is coming a year after the Startup Act was signed into law by the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari.
Announcing the launch of the portal via a post on his X handle, the Minister said:
“We are pleased to announce the launch of the Startup Support and Engagement Portal, startup.gov.ng, a key requirement for implementing the Nigeria Startup Act. The startup portal will drive the identification and aggregation of Nigerian startups, venture capital companies, hubs, and innovation centers in order to facilitate engagement and support for ecosystem players.
“The launch of the portal will allow us to initiate the process of setting up the startup consultative forums to select representatives to the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in order to facilitate discourse and consensus among Nigerian ecosystem players.
“We invite all Nigerian startups, venture capital companies, hubs, and innovation centers to register at the portal startup.gov.ng and look forward to working with all industry stakeholders to ensure that we fully implement the Startup Act for the benefit of our innovation ecosystem.”
Former President Buhari signed the Nigeria Startup Bill 2022 into law on October 19 2022 to put an end to the legal uncertainties that had trailed the startup industry in the past. It provides for what qualifies a company to register and obtain startup status. The Act stipulates among others that:
Before a company can be labelled a startup, it must obtain a certificate known as the startup label. This means that only companies with the startup label will be recognised as startups.
It mandates that a Startup Support and Engagement Portal should be established to facilitate the issuance of the startup label and also bridge the gap between regulators and startups. It also spells out the requirements for a company to obtain a startup label. Companies issued with a startup label have obligations under the bill and failure to comply with these obligations can revoke their startup label.
According to the Act, for a company to be named a startup, it must be a registered limited liability company that has been in existence for not more than ten years from the date of incorporation, amongst other requirements.
Startups can access a special seed fund created under the Act. The Act establishes a Startup Investment Seed Fund, which is designated for startups alone. It will provide finance and tech relief for startups. This means increased access to funding that will grow the startup ecosystem. It will be easier for startups to fund their operations by leveraging the grants and loans that will be available to them.
Companies labelled as startups will benefit from some tax reliefs and incentives under the Act. These labelled startups are eligible for pioneer status incentives and other tax reliefs. Labelled startups with at least ten employees where 60% of the employees have no prior work experience within three years of graduation or any vocational program have access to percentage-based tax relief.
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