Better Days at 9mobile: 9mobile Receives $230 Million Loan from AFC

The Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd., operating as 9mobile, Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications company, has recently been approved for a $230 million loan by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC)

AFC is a pan-African Multilateral Development Financial Institution established in 2007 to bridge Africa’s infrastructure investment gap, making investments across five key sectors of power, transport and logistics, natural resources, telecommunications and heavy industries.

9mobile made the approval of this loan known on Sunday in a released statement signed by Abdulrahman Ado, its executive director for regulatory and corporate affairs. According to Ado, the company received the loan approval from AFC on Friday, August 23.

Africa Finance Corporation is pleased to inform the Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services that it has received full board approval to support the turnaround strategy of EMTS through $230m super-senior investment,” the financial institution said.

On the use of the loan, the company claims that the funds will be channelled towards innovative product development. The company claims that the loan facility will be divided into two sections, and will be used in repaying historic vendor obligations, finance costs and an internet reserve account and payment towards quick-win CapEx initiatives.

Speaking on this, Nashiru Bayero, the chairman of 9mobile’s board of directors, said, “We can only express gratitude to the AFC for approving this loan facility that would not only jhelp our business sustainability but also grow it to serve our teeming and loyal customers in Nigeria better.

We have completely reviewed our operational, regulatory, financial and technical architecture to ensure we deliver quality services and this facility would go a long way in giving best-in-class services to Nigerians. Our turnaround efforts are well and truly underway. We had promised when we took over that we would justify the confidence in our brand by making significant investments that will improve the value Nigerians get for using 9mobile.”

The Chief Financial Officer for 9mobile, Phillips Oki, also said that with the loan facility, 9mobile’s staff, vendors and subscribers can expect better days.

 

 

What Really Happened with the Jumia Internal Fraud?

Yes, this has been a question on the minds of several Nigerians. How could the largest e-commerce company in Africa suffer internal fraud amounting to $17.5 million?

On the 21st of August, Jumia Technologies announced its financial results for the quarter that ended in June 30, 2019. It was revealed at this Q2 2019 report that the company suffered some internal fraud relating to its sales and orders.

It disclosed that it recently uncovered instances of improper orders placed and subsequently cancelled on its marketplace platform wrongly inflating its order volume. The implication of this is the cancelled orders were not recorded as cancelled. Jumia says it is as a result of internal collusion involving members of its JForce (independent sales agents) with some sellers and employees inflating order volumes to earn more commission.

Speaking on this, Jumia Nigeria CEO Juliet Anammah said, “We received information alleging that some of our independent sales consultants, members of our JForce program in Nigeria, may have engaged in improper sales practices… We have terminated the employees and JForce agents involved, removed the sellers implicated and implemented measures designed to prevent similar instances in the future.”

Cumulatively, the improper orders generated around $17.5 million in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) value between the last quarter of 2018 and the first two quarters of 2019, the report shows. In case you were wondering, the GMV is the metric used by e-commerce companies to indicate the total value of merchandise sold throughout the site.

As a result of this fraud, JUMIA stock fell as much as 17.4% during trading on 21 August, 2019.

The first case raised involving the JForce sales team who were allegedly involved in fraudulent sales activities such ss bribing JUMIA employees for positive marketing accounts for 1% of JUMIA’s GMV during 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 he,

Next is the case revolving around orders cancelled before delivery. This particular fraudulent activity amounted to 2% of the company’s GMV in 2018, and 4% of GMV in the first quarter of 2019. JUMIA similarly reported that the “employees” involved have been suspended.

So, basically, when you evaluate the financials and the company’s statement on the fraudulent activities, it is obvious that the JUMIA executives are trying to wash their hands of the fraud, by implying that they had zero idea that such a crime was being committed.

Even if this is the case, shouldn’t these executives be held accountable for incompetence, seeing as it happened under their watch? One can almost say that, considering the huge sum of approximately $18 million involved, the response of JUMIA is lackadaisical. Imagine, till now, no one has been arrested, possibly proving that the employees are not the only ones to be held responsible. The company even when on to say that, “These transactions had no impact on our financial statements.”

Unbelievable!

 

 

Max, One of OPay’s ORide Competitors, has launched MaxKeke

Nigerian bike-hailing service, Max, one of the prominent competitors to the Opera-owned ORide, has just launched Maxkeke, its own tricycle service.

With core values of transparency, integrity, initiative and partnership, Max was founded by Adetayo Bamiduro and Chinedu Azodoh with the aim of reducing hours spent by Lagosians in traffic.

Early in the month of June, MAX raised $7 million investment for expansion, and the tricycle service was indeed one of the verticals MAX hoped to expand to with the raised funds. According to an internal person with knowledge of the service, operations are to kick off anytime soon, this is further corroborated by a tweet from MAX yesterday,

“Tawa is Smart. Tawa is a MAX Keke Champion. Now she’s got financial freedom!!! Be smart, Be like Tawa #MAXOKADA #MAXKEKE #Champion #transportation #livinginlagos #startups #premiumbikes”

From the tweet, we can guess that operations will begin in Lagos, but there are no details on the other cities it will cover.

Considering the fierce competition in the bike-ride hailing system in Nigeria, the launch of Maxkeke is unsurprising seeing as OPay recently launched OTrike, its keke service, across Kano, Aba and Ilorin.

It will be quite interesting to see how Max plans to compete with OTrike, considering as the founder company OPay raised a whopping sum of $50 million this year.

Even more, we can only watch to see how this will impact on Gokada, the pioneer of bike hailing services in Nigeria, as it comes back from its two-week break next week.

 

CcHub’s Pitchdrive Tech Tour Second Edition: Ten African Startups Participating in the Pitchdrive Asia

The Co-Creation Hub’s Pitchdrive tech tour second edition kicked off today. Ten selected African startups, who utilise hardware and deep technology tools in their businesses, are participating in this tech tour.

CcHUB, the leading technology innovation centre in Nigeria and Google for Startups announced the launch of the PitchDrive II in April this year. This edition is a three-week, five-city Asian tech tour across Singapore, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo.

The PitchDrive kicked off today with a target is to bring 10 elite African hardware and advanced technology startups together to discover and engage Asian suppliers and manufacturing partners.

The startups will be interacting with deep tech and hardware communities in Singapore, Japan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea. They are to engage in pitching events, seek out collaborations, partnerships and potential investment opportunities to help them grow further and scale their businesses.

Speaking on this, the Director of Incubation at CcHUB said, “We find that there’s a lot of interest from Asia in Africa and we believe there are opportunities for collaboration that could help strengthen the hardware and deep tech ecosystem in Africa.

Selected from a highly competitive pool of over 200 applicants from across Africa, the participating startups are: Moroccan safety IoT device company Casky; Rwandan smart transport solution company, AC Group;  Nigeria’s Gricd Frij, a cold chain technology for transportation of healthcare and agricultural produce; Access Afya, a Kenyan primary healthcare social enterprise using technology to deliver affordable and effective health access;  Ugandan CHIL AI Lab which leverages AI to improve cancer diagnostic services; and Taeillo, a Nigerian furniture and design company that leverages mixed reality to improve customer experience.

Others include Enova Robotics from Tunisia which specialises in mobile robot development for security purposes; Flare, a Kenyan uber-like company which aggregates ambulance/emergency options for easy access; LIFI-LED, an Ivorian energy startup providing electricity and internet connectivity to difficult-to-access communities, and Nigeria’s Reliance HMO, which employs a consortium of tools to make health insurance accessible and affordable.

This CcHUB tech tour edition is supported by Google For Startups; Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO); ICT and Innovation ministry (Rwanda); German Society for International Cooperation [GIZ]; TechCabal, the media company in charge of curating the tour in images, film and text which will culminate in a documentary production to be aired at the end of the tour; Keppel Capital, MainOne, Future Hub, Found8, and CoCoon.

 

Nigerian Top 5 Early-Stage Investors and Venture Capitalists in 2019

If you are looking to raise money for a startup or funding to launch new products, then this is a must read.

Over 80% new businesses in Nigeria fail in their first year, and lack of funding is one of the prominent reasons for this. Money is the lifeline of a business. A business can only accomplish new goals and attain new heights when it is sufficiently fuelled by funds.

The tech ecosystem in Nigeria is one of the most important in Africa currently. In 2018 alone, two of the world’s biggest tech companies, Facebook and Google, opened their own hubs and launched accelerator programs in the country.

We have scoured the tech startup landscape, and handpicked some of the top early-stage startup investors in Nigeria. ‘

  1. Venture Platform

Ventures Platform is a Pan-African early stage fund that actively finds, funds and supports innovative companies solving real problems in the continent. Founded by in 2016 by Kola Aina, a startup mentor and a passionate angel investor, the focus is to support MVP teams in growing their startups. This Platform invests in ambitious founders who are growing sustainable companies, operating scalable tech-enabled business models, with a clear-cut path to revenue.

Currently, Ventures Platform supports over 2000 entrepreneurs, funds over 28 startups, and popular Nigerian startups in its portfolio include MobileForms, PiggyBank, Accounteer, GeroCare, Paystack, crowdForce, Thriveagric, Wesabi, MyPadi, Tizeti and Printivo.

  1. GreenHouse Capital

Greenhouse Capital is of the belief that “every company must have a strategy to harness the powerful advantages of the new financial technology (‘fintech’) revolution.

Spinned out from Venture Garden Group in January 2016, Greenhouse is an independent investment holding company in Africa with a vision of building the largest fintech investment holding company in Africa through direct investments in African technological companies that support and disintegrate banking services.

Their goal is to provide exceptional teams with the resources and network they need to drive growth and scale their companies locally and internationally. It has invested in popular Nigerian startups like MAX.NG, Flutterwave, Riby, TalentBase and Rensource.

  1. SPARK Capital

Spark is a company that builds companies with a focus on Lagos, Nigeria as the gateway to Africa. Founded by Jason Njoku in 2013, at the inception of Spark, he wrote in a manifesto, saying,

We are not a fund and we are not an incubator; we are a company that builds companies. We focus on Lagos, Nigeria as the gateway to Africa. We focus on well-defined and scalable revenue models. We are a collection of Internet people. We are Spark.”

Shortly after its launch, the company deployed $2m in a number of companies. The company appears to maintain a close and personal relationship with the startups it invests in. Currently, companies like Ogavenue, Hotels.ng, Paystack, Medsaf, MyFoto, and Drinks.ng are on the company’s portfolio.

  1. Growth Capital Fund

Launched by CCHub, Growth Capital Fund is the first social innovation fund in Nigeria with the aim of creating an unprecedented path to scale for outliers driving social change in Nigeria. The company supports high potential, early-stage businesses who are focused on building next generation infrastructure with technology. Participating investors in GC-Fund include CCHub, Bank of Industry, Omidyar Network and Venture Garden Group. It has invested in six companies including Taeillo, Edves, Riby, LifeBank, Delivery Science and DrugStoc.

  1. LeadPath Nigeria

If you have a product that eliminates or reduces the competing factors in an industry, while creating or raising elements that have never been offered in the industry, then you should contact LeadPath for funding.

LeadPath is a seed capital fund that specialises in providing short, medium and long-term funding to small and medium sized start-up businesses in high growth technology areas such as software, web and mobile technologies. The company’s average investment ranges from $25,000 to $100,000 for seed investment and several millions of dollars for follow on funding series.

Andela Launches a Pilot Program in Nigeria for its Talent Marketplace

The African technology company, Andela recently announced the launch of its pilot program in Nigeria to enhance the effectiveness of its talent marketplace.

Andela, an African-based company, focuses on identifying and developing software developers. It launched its operations in Nigeria to help global companies overcome the severe shortage of skilled software developers.

With offices in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United States, the company aims to solve the technical talent shortage by developing distributed engineering teams with the most talented software engineers in Africa.

Currently, it has hired over 1,000 engineers out of more than 100,000 applicants and become known as the “Best Place to Work in Africa”. Two hours ago, the company took to its Twitter and LinkedIn pages, saying,

“We’re excited to announce that we’ve launched a pilot program in Nigeria for our Talent Marketplace to help employers find and hire entry-level software engineers faster. Our pool of Andela Learning Community graduates is now open to technical recruiters”

In a comment under the company’s Twitter page, a follower commented, “Great Development! Does that mean the Andela Fellowship Program is over?”

The Andela Fellowship is a paid, full-time opportunity to advance your career by developing the skills needed to become a full-stack programmer. Participants work on global engineering teams alongside professionals professionals who can mentor them in their career.

Though there is no reply yet, we do not believe that this launch should interfere with the Andela Fellowship Program.

The launch of this program comes eight months after the company raised a $100 million Series D funding round led by a former US Vice President, Al Gore.

It was Andela’s model of promoting distributed teams and remote work that significantly won the conviction of Al Gore’s sustainability-focused Generation Investment Management. So, this launch can be seen as a move towards efficient application of the funding.

US Embassy Celebrates Nigerian Advocate, Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin for her Contribution to Women Capacity Building

The US Mission in Nigeria has recently honoured Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin for her significant contribution to women capacity building.

Born in 1985, Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin is a Nigerian Women and Girls Advocate Social Entrepreneur.

Late last year, on November 1, she was named one of the ten CNN Heroes of the year, alongside nine other pacesetters in the world. Even more amazing, that same month, she was listed as one of BBC’s 100 Women.

Abisoye has conducted multiple human development programs including GirlsCoding, GirlsSTEM and Empowered Hands. The U.S Mission Nigeria tweeted 7 hours ago, saying, Through her various programs, this tech enthusiast has trained over 400 girls and women to code, with a passion geared towards their empowerment and digital relevance.

The U.S. Mission in Nigeria tweeted 7 hours ago, saying,

“#NigerianStar @AbisoyeAjayi is an alumna @StateIVLP and a 2018 @CNNHeroes honoree. She assists girls in developing tech skills through programs including #GirlsCoding, #GirlsinSTEM and Empowered Hands through which she has trained over 400 girls and women to code”

Born in Akure, Ondo State, Abisoye attended the Nigerian Institute of Information Technology (NIIT), and she later went on to acquire a BSc in Business Administration from the University of Lagos.

Working in technology at E.D.P Adult and Security Associations for seven years, she discovered a large gender gap which corresponds with the 2013 governmental survey that less than 8% of management, professional or technological positions are held by Nigerian women.

In a bid to bridge this gap, she founded the Pearls Africa Youth Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization aimed at educating young girls in under-served areas in Nigeria with technology skills. The fact that she left her successful, fulltime IT consulting job to start the Foundation speaks a lot about her passion.

 

Adebayo Adesanya: Senior Software Engineer and Slayer of Code Dragons

Top software develops are moving out of Nigeria en masse in search of greener pastures abroad, and the Lagos-born Adebayo Adesanya is an ideal example of a great loss to the Nigerian tech ecosystem. Adebayo Adesanya went from working with Andela in Lagos to joining the tech team of Candis, a Berlin-based firm that automates accounting processes.

The Lagos-born Adebayo Adesanya acquired his Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information System from Covenant University, and he started his professional career as an Intern, Airtel KYC Support Personnel for Seamfix Nigeria. He later moved on to other companies including Grappeline Technologies, L5Lab, Kamdora and Konga, before landing as the Technical Team Lead in Andela in 2017.

However, Adebayo’s motivation for leaving the country was never for more money as he always had a marginal increase in pay. According to him, “I love challenges. Its plethora of possibilities interlaced with solutions makes it seem like a clandestine code, which has to be deciphered. That is why I became a Software Developer and that is what makes me curious about life and my career”

But, “there are no rewards for long service,” he said. So, while he had never been one of the abroad fanatics, he began to seriously consider relocating. He had offers from prominent tech companies in Nigeria, but he didn’t think any of them could fulfil his career needs, and he was of the opinion that he had seen all that the companies had to offer, and a gig outside the country would expose him to new experiences.

Currently, Adebayo works at Candis.io as a Senior Software Engineer, an opportunity he got after signing up on the job platform, Honeypot, where companies in Europe hire developers regularly. Though he got two good offers from German companies, he opted for Candis.io, because, as he says, “The product was both interesting and challenging, and the team seemed like a great one to join.”

At Candis, he works on a team of full-stack software engineers in maintaining and innovating on the Candis Financial Accounting Platform in other to provide easy to use Automated Accounting for small and medium-sized companies, and every day, he “slay new dragons.”

He works in a diverse team with people from across the world. Despite this, he is still the only black person out of the 70 employees working at Candis. According to him, he jokes about being the odd man out, saying, “I joke at work that I don’t have to do anything to stand out. I stand out by default.

 

 

Opera-Owned OPay Formally Launches OBus Barely a Week after OTrike

Opera-owned OPay launches OBus, a bus hailing service, last Saturday in Lagos. This launch is coming barely a week after the introduction of OTrike in Aba.

Currently, Opera runs one of the biggest startups in Nigeria, and in its plan to become a multi-service commercial Internet platform, it has added personal loans, tricycle hailing, food hailing and now a bus hailing service to its platform within the past months.

The launch of OBus comes not too long after the launch of OTrike, a tricycle hailing service in Aba. With OBus, OPay appears to be on its way to beat the market dominance odds to becoming the go-to platform in Nigeria for quite a number of services.

As it is still in its Beta phase, OBus is only available in few locations in Lagos State, operating along the CMS-Ikeja routes. You can only access the OBus service using the updated OPay app. According to an OPay staff, “OBus is like normal buses but it is more comfortable and supports cashless payments.”

To pay for bus trips, you have to use an OBus card, it is a QR-enabled card that comes in different denominations — as low as ₦200 ($0.55) and as high as ₦2000 ($5.51). You can purchase the cards at different designated bus stops from OPay agents.

Payments are made by placing the card over a sensor reader inside the bus. The sensor then reads the ticket barcode which was generated through the mobile app before the trip and withdrawal will be made immediately.

An OBus Card can be used for multiple trips until the credit is exhausted. Alternatively, payments can also be made through the OPay wallet, as with other OPay services.

One can only wonder what line of service the Norway-based company will go into next, and its next product line, given its heavy $50m funding. Perhaps, this is a means of proving to investors how effectively the recent funding is being utilised.

Regarding concerns about his company’s speed of product and services expansion, the OPay staff explains it away as a means of testing new waters.

“I admit that OPay is moving very fast. However, I believe we will learn from experience, just like Gokada which is having its share of challenges already.”

 

 

Elegbe: Financial Inclusion, Elections and Technology in Nigeria

Last week in New York, Verve, the 11-year-old Pan-African payment card brand owned by Interswitch, extended its reach to countries outside Africa to allow users make transactions in 185 countries around the world. Verve in partnership with Discover Global Network, a leading US card platform, released the Verve Global Card which allows for international and cross-border transactions.

In a recently conducted interview with thisdaylive, Mitchell Elegbe, the Managing Director of InterSwitch Group, spoke on the new Verve Global Card as the evolution of financial inclusion in Nigeria, and went on to discuss how the adoption of technology can change the outlook of the electoral system in Nigeria.

Accessing the financial inclusion journey in the country, Elegbe opined that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented lots of “improvement and new policies” towards achieving the financial inclusion targets in the country. As an instance, he mentioned the Payment Service Banks (PSBs), which is targeted at mobile network operators (telcos), because of their wide-reaching distributions.

Speaking on barriers to achieving the financial inclusion targets set by CBN, Elegbe said that for some financial inclusion is unnecessary, because they lack money which is a fundamental requirement for financial inclusion. He also said that, “For some others, it is in and out – as money is coming in, it is going out, so why should I save it. So, what that basically means is that the kind of transaction you need to do for them to be financially included should be an in and out kind of transactions, because they don’t have enough money to save

To buttress his point, he gave a convincing illustration, saying, “there are people that every day they would leave their houses to collect items from distributors, go to the roadside to sell them, like the hawkers in traffic. Those guys live from hand to mouth. If you tell them to bank their money, you would be wasting your time because their bank is in their pocket. The only way they would even listen to you is if you can create a product that looks at what they do. For instance, they always have issues with ‘change’ when someone buys from them in the traffic, that is why you see them always chasing cars. But if you give them a solution that eliminates the need for ‘change’ they would adopt it, because you have solved a problem for them.”

Explaining the root of the current financial inclusion crisis in the country, he said, “But what is happening is that some of us who wear suit and tie are designing products for people who don’t wear suit and tie. We don’t understand their lives and what they need most. But you can see that sometimes if you understand the way people live, it is easier to find solutions for them. So, one of the learnings for me is that if you want to solve my problems, you need to understand my problems and you need to feel it. Once you do that, then it is easier.”

On the issue of election challenges in Nigeria, Mitchell Elegbe claimed that technology is the solution. Speaking on this, he said, “There are easier ways to carry out voting that would not cost the entire country what it cost us today. Today, it is too expensive to conduct an election. So, like you rightly said, we have a combination of technology that can be used. There are people that have registered for national identity card, there are people who have Bank Verification Number (BVN), driver’s licence and so on.

So, once you know these people, we now have to make the various data base talk to each other, so that you can easily find out if someone has voted using his driver’s licence and he is attempting to vote again using his BVN. So, because you can see that person from the data base, you disallow that. We all know about blockchain. One of the big uses of blockchain is called the Single Source of Truth, which all of us can see what is happening because of the way it is designed. Blockchain will be a good solution to use for elections. The truth is that there is a way to make it happen and there is technology that can be used to make it a lot easier