Meet the computer science graduate that established the first tech hub in Katsina

Huzaifa speaks with Pulse about how he started a tech community in Katsina.

Huzaifah established the first tech hub in Katsina state. (Pulse)

But while many graduates choose to wait till they get a 9-5 job or proceed to begin their Master program, Huzaifa Yakubu Musa took a giant step to establish a tech community in a city that has never known or seen anything like a tech hub.

In this interview with pulse, Huzaifa explained how he started, the challenges he faced and the perception of his people about his tech-innovation centre.

Pulse: How did you establish the tech hub and what were your motivations?

Huzaifa: First of all my name is Huzaifa Yakubu Musa, and I was born and raised in Katsina city. I am a Computer Science graduate from Al-Qalam University Katsina, Masters in ICT from Bayero University Kano (In View). 

As a fresh graduate of computer science, I started working with CITAD, an NGO based in Kano, where I learned how to develop community and give back to society even if you don't have much to offer. I started thinking on how to create an ICT and Tech ecosystem in North especially my state Katsina, considering the fact that there was nothing like tech entrepreneurship or tech community in Katsina at that time. That is when I did my little research and learn about how Cchub contributed in creating Lagos Tech Ecosystem.

Ever since, I pledge to start my own hub in Katsina even though I couldn't afford to rent and equip a physical hub. I then created a team with my brother Umar Yakubu (Photographer and Fashion Designer "Alqalamist"), my Nephew Naufal Ahmad (Founder TMC), Yazid Lawal (Developer) and Abdulhakim Bashir (Developer and Co-Founder Chinki Technologies). This amazing team helps a lot in making this dream a reality.

Pulse: In what ways is the hub engaging the youths in Katsina state?

Huzaifa: The hub has been engaging the youth of Katsina and some neighboring states in a lot of ways including but not limited to, organizing Developers and Entrepreneurs Meet-ups regularly to create awareness and change their mindsets; training ICT Professionals especially developer; organizing seminars and events for developers and entrepreneurs; creating groups for entrepreneurs and innovators, and exposing our developers, networking and entrepreneurs to opportunities.

Pulse: How is the Hub fairing in creating a tech community in the state?

Huzaifa: The hub is contributing greatly to the ecosystem as a lot of youth are now into entrepreneurship and tech startup. We now have some startups working on solving some problems. We brought a lot of events, hackathons and challenges to Katsina hosting the likes of Andela, Developers Circle by Facebook, Google Developer Groups etc.

Pulse: What are the people's perceptions about the centre?

Huzaifa: People are always saying good things about the hub in Katsina and other places, though at first, nobody understands what we are doing and some were even laughing that we are just wasting our time as Innovation Hubs can only work in countries like US and UK, but Alhamdulillah we people are really appreciating what we are doing and even Katsina State Government is now partnering with our Hub.

Pulse: What is the meaning of Kirkira and what led to that name?

Huzaifa: Kirkira is Hausa word for Innovation. I am a proud Hausa guy and I like using Hausa words all the time. Secondly, I wanted our youth to be free and take Kirkira Hub as theirs, which is why I chose the name Kirkira Innovation Hub. Though, it is not easy to pronounce especially for non-Hausa speakers, but that makes our hub unique.

Pulse: Was the hub only established to train and engage youths or they get paid too?

Huzaifa: Apart from training the youth, we pair them with employers or contract them on our own projects so that they can have an extra source of income. 

Pulse: Since it was established, what would you consider as the best achievement of the hub so far?

Huzaifa: Well as I always say, our achievements are measured based on lives we impacted and believe me, we have impacted hundreds of young entrepreneurs and innovators that always makes me happy and at ease. I always receive text messages, emails and even phone calls from some of the people we built.

Pulse: In what way has the Hub contributed to development in Katsina state in terms of tech innovations?

Huzaifa: The hub contributed to the creation of Katsina Tech ecosystem, we now have a lot of software and web developers, tech startups and companies that are scaling and one way or the other you will see that they are connected with us or they were inspired by our programs and events. We have a lot of successful tech entrepreneurs that are working with us to mentor and train our youth in technology and entrepreneurship for free, the likes of Kabir Kebram (CCIE x 3), Hashiru Aminu Daura ( CISCO Saudi Arabia), Idris Aminu (CISCO Kenya), Nasir Yammama (Verdant UK), Brig AS Imam (NDA) etc.

Pulse: How does the Hub get funded?

Huzaifa: You Know hubs are not for making money primarily. The hub has been funded directly by me and my founders for long, but now we have pieces of training and software/ web development projects that are sustaining the hub activities. Some of our events are also sponsored by some organization or groups.

 Pulse: How do you make money from the Hub?

Huzaifa: Hubs are not for making money, our target is to make it sustainable. We measure our success by the number of lives we impacted and the benefits we bring to the community and the most important problems we solve.

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