‘Knowledge is power’, so goes the saying. There are, however, tons of University scholarships, grants and fellowships for Nigerian students to access all over the world, but many of them are unaware of the existence of these.
I recently caught up with Bola Lawal, the Co-Founder of Scholarx.co, and he spoke at length on how to identify scholarship opportunities on the internet.
Bola and his colleagues runs Scholarx.co, an app that helps Nigerian students, both home and abroad, to access available scholarships, grants, fellowships, etc.
Bola stated that he decided to become a tech Startup because he wanted to make impact as one of the ways to reach a wide number of people is through the deployment of technology. He, however, stated that the journey had been the typical up and down so far, as with many other Startups in Nigeria, but then, Scholarx.co has recorded some level of successes. He stated that, in less than a year, Scholarx.co already has a large number of young people on its platform.
Reacting to allegations that Nigerian Startups like to just cut and paste ideas on their platforms, Bola explained that what they do is to survey and study the market they want to enter, know their needs and then can either create or copy, paste and modify to meet the needs of the specific market, thus, solving problems.
When asked on what he thinks about the inadequacy of laws on intellectual property rights in Nigeria, Bola, in the first instance opined that with Scholarx.co, there was no copying involved as what they did was to identify a problem and found a solution to solve it. Intellectual property, he maintained, crops up when you are trying to use similar names and IP’s to imitate others, which leads to problems.
On strategies to adopt to protect intellectual properties, Bola advised Startups to roll out their ideas in bits and on a gradual basis, e.g., maybe start with 10% of your ideas as and, then, gradually release more as you progress with your Startup. That way, you keep those who want to copy you off guard.
Bola stated that the problem that his Startup is trying to solve is the provision of access to quality education for young people, primarily due to the lack of finance and Scholarx.co has had some success stories in this regards, some of which he reeled out. He stated that some of the scholarships that are secured for these young people are full scholarships while others are partial scholarships.
Bola explained that securing scholarships in tines past was usually a big struggle, but today, he says, there are various scholarships, grants and fellowships available to people, which they do not take advantage of, with some of those that run these scholarships, etc., even go to the extent of closing then down because they are not getting enough people to apply.
On monetization of the platform, Bola said the platform is already working towards providing additional services that people can subscribe to, just like any other platform would do.
When asked what he would say to the Nigerian government about Startups, Bola said he will suggest to the government to promote the Nigerian human capital ecosystem, with a view to attract people, even, from outside Nigeria, to patronize Nigerians, just like the Indians are doing.
You can view the full interview here.