On Scholarships and Grants — Startup Edition

One of the things I spend a lot of my time thinking about is how to scale impact — especially in a place like Nigeria. There is clearly so much that needs to be done and that can be done but I am myself limited. For me, figuring out the most important things at the intersection of infrastructure and futurism is the best use of my time and abilities. This obsession is why I work at Buycoins, and is why I am working as the Custodian of the Aleph Fellowship. Essentially, I think of it fundamentally as “scaling enablement”.

A few years ago, I went to college in the United States. I was very fortunate to have gotten a scholarship without which I would never have left Nigeria. This is one of the best things we do as a society: provide an economic buffer that compensates for the opportunity cost of the time you spend trying to educate yourself. But we don’t do things like this enough: the ideal state of our world should be one where everyone is on basic income and can spread their wings and play around with all sorts of ideas. There are so many things — like education — in which economically disadvantaged folks would ordinarily not try to explore without some financial padding. I think startups are one of such things. People might work on them if they don’t have to worry about what they will eat. And God knows we need a whole lot more experiments founded in Africa (more on this in the future).

As such, I’m extending the scope of the Ewuare Fund. The Ewuare Fund will be giving out $5000 in scholarships/grants to up to 4 people who are looking to work on interesting projects (particularly projects with a more global focus). You don’t need any pre-qualification and there are no age limits. You just need to have a strong intuition for product building and have some programming proficiency. They are referred to as scholarships so people fully internalise that building a startup is a learning journey: you actually start out very clueless.

It’s probably a silly idea: the scholarship is probably too small, the people who need it most might never see this blog post, startups have a less than 10% survival rate etc, but we would never know without trying, and others might not try new models if they don’t see some experiments (succeed or fail). Even a 1% chance that the next Shola Akinlade and the next Odunayo Eweniyi are hindered from taking gigantic bets because they are economically disadvantaged is reason enough to test out this silly idea.

If you want to work on something exciting (especially something with a global focus) but are economically disadvantaged, please apply. Please don’t apply if you’re reasonably financially independent — you will just be attempting to take the spot of someone else who needs the scholarship more than you do.

One of the things I’m most influenced by is Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison’s Fast Grant. As such, I’ve tried to make the application process fairly non-complicated but interesting enough to provide some form of insight into the applicant. Please apply here.

Cofounder, Helicarrier. Custodian, Aleph Fellowship.