By Chiazo Ogbolu
Digital entrepreneur and Chairman of Zinox Group, Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, has urged financial institutions to explore creative avenues to support startups.
In a statement in Lagos on Friday, Ekeh said that the step would help to empower millions of jobless youths.
“One of the major reasons behind the worrisome unemployment situation in the country is inability of financial institutions to explore creative avenues to support startups and empower millions of jobless youths.
“As a digital orphan, I can relate with the challenges startups face as I consider the challenges I faced in my attempts to raise funds while starting out as an entrepreneur.
“This is the situation which inspired me to work extremely hard to offer myself as a collateral in order to realise my corporate ambitions,’’ he said.
Ekeh said that the partnership between Keystone bank and CeLD which gave rise to the unveiling of CashToken would revolutionise customer loyalty in Nigeria.
He described CashToken as an electronic reward and celebratory gift commodity designed to optimise customer loyalty investments for businesses, individuals and government establishments.
“The product was designed to offer recipients an opportunity to win life-changing cash rewards between N5,000 and N100 million every week, among other benefits.’’
Ekeh hailed CashToken developers, and hoped that the solution would expand access to funding for small and medium enterprises.
“This is a timely intervention, considering difficulties faced by startups, especially those in the tech sector, in raising funds to pursue their dreams.
“When I started out as a struggling tech entrepreneur, it was very difficult raising funds as the banks did not understand technology then,’’
According to him, banks were then more interested in extending loans and other credit facilities to oil companies.
“Today, we are in an era in which technology is altering the destiny of most countries in the world. Yet, we still see a situation where our banks are still not willing to give a chance to tech startups.
“I also see the governments giving more concentration to agriculture. There is nothing wrong with that, but for these youths to embrace farming, it must be scientific agriculture.
“We must understand that today’s youths are digital natives, many of whom are eager to take their place in a knowledge economy driven by equal access to wealth.
“Tech startups are defined by attitude, culture and lifestyle. This is the language of the current generation,’’ he said.
Ekeh urged other banks to emulate Keystone bank by giving a chance to tech startups and other smart youths.
According to Ekeh, if 10 startups are empowered and only two succeed, the combined returns from their investments will exceed anything we hope to derive from any other sector.