Ask anyone what they think of when the South Eastern part of Nigeria is mentioned. The answer is a no brainer – entrepreneurship and business. One problem that persists however, is getting these businesses and entrepreneurs to use technology as an enabler.
Located in the midst of a vast array of empty land at Obinze on the outskirts of Owerri, Imo State, Oluaka Institute stands out. Like an oasis in the desert, it has beautiful facilities hidden by shrubs and developing plots of land.
This however has not deterred its founders from dreaming big and hoping to make it a technology university for the South East. Recent participants including myself at the just concluded Stakeholders Conference for the Startup Community in the South East and South South organised by Startup South, were blown away by the beauty of its architecture and the sheer power of the vision behind the Institute. Work was going on in earnest and it was evident that something great was underway for the South East growing tech scene.
Formerly known as Oluaka Academy, Oluaka, which is a tech innovation and enterprise education center, plans to become a technology university for the South East. It was conceived in 2012 by Innocent Chukwuma, founder of CLEEN Foundation.
The General Manager and one of the brains behind Oluaka Institute, Mr. Sam Ekwuribe, shared the vision of the institute which is to assist the region gain knowledge on how to leverage on technology. Speaking at the conference, Mr. Ekwuribe said,
“Oluaka is in response to youth unemployment in the South East. We plan to use technology to disrupt the statusquo and get people empowered. Oluaka simply means working with your hands and in the South-East we want people to use their hands and deliver themselves and not wait for the government.”
Perhaps that is why it is strategically located close to the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) at Obinze. Among its facilities is the Heartland innovation hub which incubates both the technology businesses and non-technology businesses. The essence is for people including artisans to learn skills and also to incorporate technology to enhance those skills.
Whatever the case, it is no doubt that something big is baking in the South Eastern tech oven and Oluaka Academy wants a huge slice of the pie.