Jones Oviawe-Jones, vice-president of ventures at Innovisa, a company that facilitates visas for tech entrepreneurs, says that around 40 Nigerian entrepreneurs move to the UK each year. “We’ve seen fairly steady and sustained interest for entrepreneurs to come over as part of the residency programme,” he says. The UK introduced its Innovator Visa in 2019 to encourage seasoned founders to come and set up a business in the country. Individuals need to have a viable business idea as well as £50,000 to invest. A key attraction for these types of entrants is access to the UK stock market and a diverse pool of investors that is not present in Nigeria. “It’s a massive pull – the UK is a global destination to raise investment,” says Oviawe-Jones. However, he adds the caveat that Nigerian entrepreneurs may struggle to break into investment circles – they will need to make connections. The Global Talent Visa was also introduced in 2020, to encourage high-calibre candidates to move to the UK to work in tech companies. The ability to command six-figure salaries is a key motivating factor, Oviawe-Jones says. However, while the flow of Nigerian talent is good for the UK, some argue that it feeds into the brain drain which damages startup scenes across Africa. Oviawe-Jones disagrees, pointing out that many of the founders that move to the UK frequently move back and forth between Lagos and London. They pump money back into funds and angel investor networks and set up subsidiaries in Lagos.
SOURCE: AFRICAN BUSINESS