The Queens Borough of New York City, USA, and the Lagos State Government have formed a learning exchange program to promote technological innovation and foster economic growth and entrepreneurship between Lagos and New York City. This partnership aims to encourage collaboration, identify shared interests, and establish a long-lasting and inclusive alliance for future joint initiatives.
The focus of the partnership is on mutual collaboration, with Queens Borough providing access to funding for Nigerian startups. The alliance also seeks to address the underrepresentation of black individuals in tech jobs in the US, offering more opportunities to black and African entrepreneurs to access funding, cross-border opportunities, and expand their markets globally.
Donovan Richards, Borough President of Queens, New York, emphasized the importance of cross-border collaboration with Lagos, acknowledging it as the leading tech ecosystem in Africa. He believes this partnership will support entrepreneurs, innovators, and policymakers in creating sustainable solutions for economic growth.
Mr. Richards praised Lagos as a hub for black brilliance, leadership, innovation, and participation, expressing his commitment to creating partnerships and pipelines to facilitate greater access to tech funding for people of color.
Olatunbosun Alake, the former Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, expressed that the partnership with Queens Borough aligns with the state’s mission to promote opportunities and collaboration in the tech sector. The focus is on resourcing, building, and creating economic value from Lagos’ tech ecosystems.
The alliance aims to facilitate cross-border partnerships, allowing local companies to expand to new markets, collaborate with New York experts, and generate transformative ideas for growth and inclusivity. The week-long visit to Lagos by Queens Borough officials involved discussions with the Lagos State Governor on collaboration, interactions with the Lagos Business School for talent exchange and program curation, a curated event with Nigerian ecosystem leaders for mutual learning, and a Microsoft pitch day for startups to access funding from New York.
The ecosystem event featured a fireside chat and a panel discussion with thought leaders from Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. The chat, moderated by Victor Afolabi, explored the Lagos State – Queens Borough alliance, focusing on innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity. The panel, moderated by Ebony Young, included top ecosystem leaders and discussed fostering an inclusive innovation ecosystem in Lagos and New York.
The partnership led to the creation of a mutual Enterprise Development Center (EDC) desk to support each other and provide funding for Nigerian startups. Over the past 36 months, Lagos State has funded over 50 startups across various sectors. The Queens Borough – Lagos State alliance aims to create more opportunities for tech startups to scale up through funding and cross-border market expansion.
The partnership reinforces the Lagos State Government’s commitment to driving economic recovery through entrepreneurship and collaborations. The ecosystem event had the participation of tech entrepreneurs, stakeholders, innovators, policymakers, and Lagos State Government officials, with support from various organizations including the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Eko Innovation Center, Lagos State Ministry of Science and Technology, and Co-Creation Hub.