Yaba Manifesto: Culture



The relationship and form of interaction amongst different companies and stakeholders within a cluster shapes the culture of the cluster and its ability to support its members and enable innovation. As a cluster, we seek to define our aspiration and support projects to shape and encourage collaboration amongst stakeholders in #Yaba. We seek to create a culture of innovation that is inclusive and exemplary for other clusters in Nigeria and across Africa.

@oluyomiojo is the leader and moderator of this conversation. The live document of the culture article for the Yaba Manifesto is available to view here.

Use this thread to leave your comments, suggestions and concerns. Don’t forget to observe the rules. If you happened to stumble on this, an overview of the Yaba Manifesto is here for you to gain context. Thanks!

The Open Yaba Manifesto is here

In terms of inclusiveness one major flaw we have is gender equality. We really need to work on getting more girls and women involved in the technical and non technical roles in the Nigerian tech sector. This would probably be a long game and it may have to start from reaching girls in universities, but it also has to do with how we hire.

There also needs to be more knowledge sharing… That’s why I think Yaba4Tech and TC Office hours are really good ideas. Many of the young people in the tech sector are repeating the same mistakes the older heads already made. How do we build a culture where all the knowledge in the heads of the Sim’s, Tayo’s, Iyin’s and Mark’s etc is shared with younger (less experienced founders)


Collaboration should be a big part of the culture and shouldn’t just be something that is said but practiced from the top to bottom. This would include investing in startups done more by the established ones. More events to connect everyone together and generally making the ecosystem more social.

Right attitude towards female techies we are at a point where we have a good amount of female tech leaders from life bank, gomyway atc… We should make sure we maintain a healthy relationship to allow females to thrive in the ecosystem. Now this doesn’t mean giving them special treatment it just means treating the as equals and allowing both males and females to drive the ecosystem. We can get the done right as we are still in a very premature stage.


Culture is simply defined as a way of life.

I met @iaboyeji at an event and I asked him a question about funding, he hurriedly gave me a very useful answer. I was glad and let him go after about 90 seconds of conversation.

@OluyomiOjo asked for my WhatsApp line for proper connection after our first meetup few days ago.

The above examples shows how to relate and share information as one family.

If you haven’t experienced it but you would have heard that many early stage Startup founders in this part of the world do not receive supports from their family members due to low entrepreneurial education in our society. So, we need every member of the community to show love and support for one another. We need tone of love, used intentionally among us so that those startups will see Yaba as a family.

I will like to call our attention to quality Service/Product delivery. Yaba would be a place to check for any consumer if we have a good number of us delivering all-round excellent service.

Thank you.

God bless Yaba Ecosystem.

Dimeji, CEO Edves


Great point re:Female techies.
It might be useful to have a safe way to call out and handle cases where there is a perception of unfair treatment.
Would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this


Two things come to mind re: this (should have been three, but @derin has already covered one)

1. Crowds: the main thesis here is that beyond the ‘core’ team working at a startup, there may be people outside it who are uniquely enabled to solve a company’s challenges in ways its internal team may not. It might be helpful to create a framework which encourages companies to crowdsource some of their technical and strategic challenges. The best solutions to some of these issues may come from people who work in orthogonal industries and don’t have the same blind spots as domain experts do. We should then leave to the individual entrepreneurs to work out how to gain sustainable competitive advantage WHILE innovating in the open. (Aside: I don’t think our addressable markets are deep enough that we should even be focusing on taking the largest share of the pie vs. growing it.)

None of this needs to happen on Radar, but the structure of it seems optimized for this kind of thing. Contextual threading, quality filter (moderation), voting system (polls, likes), etc.

2. Talent sharing: beyond crowdsourcing for specific challenges, I think there are opportunities for technical talent to gain experience and companies to widen their talent pool (a desirable outcome) if we let employees work for more than one company at a time. Hear me out. It may seem counterintuitive, but I think it actually improves the outcome for all parties in certain limited contexts. e.g. It was pretty great to have @cyberomin and @ChukaOfili assist Big Cabal while we were building Formation.

The second reason I think it is a good idea is that happening already, albeit in a less formal context - the best developers are taking on projects from multiple clients. Formalizing it significantly increases the size of the pie and creating these kinds of bridges between companies in different industries can end up creating better-rounded employees, with wider circles of competence.

Of course, if this gets adopted (cc @oluyomiojo), it is probably best to let individuals and individual companies work out the incentive structure, so that it’s worth everybody’s time. But I think it’s a good way to get the flywheel started.

– NB –
a) Thanks, in part, to people like @aniediudo and @nke_ise, the number and quality of local developer events has gone up significantly in the past year. I think that’s really great, and we should encourage more of the same, especially around other verticals like digital marketing.

b) To add to @Derin’s comments, re: inclusiveness, when companies hire and optimize only for “quality”, they risk enforcing a feedback loop that keeps women away from technical roles because of pipeline issues. I encourage employers to gently tip the scale in favor of women who have shown both a willingness and potential (based on whatever hiring criteria) to grow in a technical direction. Because the issue is systemic, some men will have to lose out on opportunities they would have otherwise deserved. So that tech/developer events no longer look like this:

That said, startups != social justice orgs, and everything must be considered in terms of ROI vs. input.

My 2 cents.


Greetings to everyone,

It has been an absolute thrill reading the comments and contributions made to the Culture pillar of the manifesto. It goes to show our depth of thought and our yearning for progress.

The great ideas proposed, if properly implemented, can truly grow our tech ecosystem and greatly increase the quality of products.

What are the next steps?

Over the next week (Aug 7th - Aug 18th), the volunteer committees for each team, coordinated by pillar leads would collate all the suggestions made here and across social media. They would refine it and make the additions to the existing draft.

We are using this opportunity as well, to ask people who are interested in being volunteers for each pillar to do so by dropping their email addresses. You would be contacted by the pillar leads.

After the collation of all elements of the manifesto, the committees would create a sample implementation plan for executing the ideas we have proposed during this process.

Simultaneously, Dele Bakare and his team would create the website that would house the manifesto.

Further information about the progress of the manifesto would be provided as time goes by.

Shoutouts to everyone who contributed to this thread; @derin @think_senpai @DimejiFalana @nke_ise @SkweiRd , if possible I would advise we indicate interest to be a volunteer and take a part in seeing these ideas to fruition!!


Francis Sani. (Manifesto clerk)


I hope my comments have not come a bit too late. I am very new to the entrepreneurial scene in Nigeria and have only
recently been made aware of the great work that has gone into the Yaba manifesto. So feel free to ignore some of my points if they are in dissonance with discussions and views that have been widely accepted.

My points - which sometimes will come as questions - are:

  1. I see there is a drive to foster a culture which will drive innovation and creativity, however, do we also understand how our national culture may be an enabler or inhibitor of the culture that is being desired? Although I recognise (from what I have read in the manifesto) that the key objectives must have gone through some brainstorming and ‘question storms’ and an objective is the end goal and the solution(s) will drive the attainment of the objective, but we should not make the mistake of thinking that ‘Yaba’ is cocooned from the national culture. Geert Hofstede did some interesting work on national cultures (although there have been recent critiques challenging some of the underlying assumptions, yet his work remains the preeminent work on culture) where he looked at cultural dimensions such as power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance (risk taking), indulgence and long term orientation.

  2. Could the recommendation that members of the Yaba tech cluster “be encouraged to be free agents with no strong allegiance to one company…” be counterproductive? I say this because if a mentality develops where allegiances become loose it may create the opposite of the desired effect such as disloyalty, breakdown of trust, information hoarding and some unexpected negative behaviours and attitudes which will not foster collaboration, open-mindedness and other key ingredients which drive innovation and creativity. Fluidity of talent migration should certainly be a positive, however, loss of allegiance may create the undesired effect.

  3. Independence: Independence does not necessarily mean independent thinking. I think it is more important to create an environment where questioning becomes the norm and everyone feels free to challenge orthodoxies, cultural habits etc. without the fear of rebuke.

  4. Persistence: An attitude of persistence in the face of failure will only be attained if there is a safety net. In a lot of societies where risk taking has become a norm, there is a social safety net which may not prevent an entrepreneur from going bankrupt but can still ensure that basic needs are met. How can we create that culture in Yaba where it can be ensured that entrepreneurs who fail can recover? Should we consider a Yaba Entrepreneurial Insurance which members can pay a premium into?

  5. Is there no need to understand the cultural practices that are dominant within the cluster now? In order to make a change it is important to know what that thing is. How have those behaviours and attitudes become predominant? Have they been as a result of a carefully orchestrated plan or have they simply emerged? Again, the national culture cannot be ignored as most employees in the Yaba cluster come from the country, therefore, the behaviours and attitudes which are enacted can be understood if the national culture is well understood.


Our national culture seems to be largely patriarchal, therefore, if we do nothing about inclusiveness we may see that 20 years down the line that the number of female founders may not have changed drastically. It will be a great loss if the number of capable female founders don’t emerge due to our macho culture. Although there will be arguments against positive discrimination, however, positive discrimination can create some good outcomes. We can learn lessons from the ‘Affirmative Action’ in the USA.

Also could mentoring be a way to go?


I am interested in volunteering but I don’t work in the Yaba cluster (if that is a criterion).


Hi Femi, it is not a criterion. Kindly forward your email address.