Bosun Tijani – The CEO of CC Hub

You should have heard of CC Hub, as they keep making revolution waves in the tech and entrepreneurial space in Nigeria, and Africa at large. Have you ever wondered who the brains behind CC Hub are?

Meet Bosun Tijani, one of the brains behind CC Hub.

Born in 1977, Bosun Tijani is a Nigerian entrepreneur and the CEO of Co-Creation Hub, which he co-founded with Femi Longe in 2010.

Named as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Africa by New Africa Magazine, Bosun attended the University of Jos, where he got a diploma in Computer Science, and B.Sc. in Economics; the Warwick Business School, where he got an MSc in Information systems and Management; and the University of Leicester, where he is currently a Postgraduate Researcher in Innovation Systems.

An associate of the Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship, Bosun initiated and received the visit of Mark Zuckerberg for the first time in Nigeria in August 2016.

According to Bosun, his cofounding of CC Hub was fuelled by his quest for a more competitive Nigeria through knowledge application. With a deep sense of responsibility, Bosun together with Longe, took on a challenge of building a platform capable of spotting and supporting smart Nigerians to build a future of collective desire.

Funded by Google, Omidyar Network,and  Sainsbury Family Trust, Co-Creation Hub Nigeria Ltd operates as a venture capital firm, focusing on educational, health and wellness, digital security, fintech, and governance sectors.

Before this, he worked with International Trade Centre and Hewlett Packard on projects supporting African SMEs to leverage technology to grow their businesses. He later moved to Pera Innovation Network, where he worked as an European Innovation Manager, leading the networking and coordination of leading innovation agencies across Europe.

According to Bosun in an interview with Punch some years back, his passion is not necessarily in mentoring entrepreneurs, but in finding ways to make technology work for the society in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.

Speaking on this, he said, “That is why I have decided to do what I do, which is to find ways in which technology can be useful and one of those would be to find smart people. If my interest is in building technology solutions, obviously, I have to find smart and creative people that will build those solutions. So, find them, support them, invest in them and expose them to people who can help make their ventures grow

 

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.

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.

 

 

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

 

MTN Group Reaches 240 Million Subscribers as it Records a 7.7 Million Subscriber Growth

Yesterday, on the 8th of August, MTN Group announced an impressive set of results for the first quarter of the year, which ended on June 30, 2019, with mobile data subscribers reaching 240 million across 20 African countries, while group revenue increased by 10.2%. This follows the addition of 7.7 million new subscribers in the first six months of the year.

The Nigeria and Ghana markets led this MTN Group earnings in the first half of 2019. MTN Nigeria led the market share with 12.2% growth, MTN Ghana contributed 18.7% to the overall service revenue at $4.48 billion.

On the other hand, the MTN South Africa market posts a meagre 3.3% growth, as impacted by a decline in consumer prepaid revenue as a result of new regulation.  The telecom operator witnessed a growth of 12% in adjusted headline earnings per share, and this is the first time that it has seen growth in this measure in recent years.

The number of active MTN data users grew by 3.5 million to 82 million, and its 30-day active Mobile Money users grew by 2.4 million to 30 million. The continued focus of MTN Group on providing excellent customer experience has seen it record brand NPS leadership across more than 50 percent of the portfolio, with twelve markets now leading.

MTN Group president and CEO, Rob Shuter, speaking on these results, said, “We had a good first half, reporting solid financial results, good commercial momentum and encouraging strategic progress. Our holding company leverage remains stable at 2.3x, well within our guidance range of 2 to 2.5x. And, as we grew revenue and carefully managed our investment programme, we saw capex intensity drop further, to 16.9 per cent.

“During the period we had some landmark events. We successfully completed the listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and our e-commerce joint venture Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Within three months of announcing our asset realisation programme, which is targeting at least R15 billion over the next few years, we delivered R2.1 billion in proceeds.

Our advanced instant messaging platform, Ayoba, is now live in three of our West African markets and has more than 300, 000 active monthly users. We are very pleased with the formal approval of our super-agent licence in Nigeria, which clears the way for the launch of phase 1 of our Nigeria fintech business while we await a banking licence.

“In Nigeria, economic activity was economic activity was muted in the time of presidential elections and prior to the formation of the cabinet. Notwithstanding this environment, in constant currency terms, service revenue grew by 9.7 per cent to R67.9 billion and EBITDA expanded by 10.2 per cent to R31.2 billion.”

The holding company net debt to EBITDA ratio remained stable at 2.3x, which is well within the Group’s guidance range of 2.0 to 2.5x, and capex intensity dropped further to 16.9 per cent, indicating greater efficiency in deploying assets.

Looking ahead, Shuter said, “MTN is well positioned to grow by leveraging our scale and enhancing our competitive position. In Nigeria, we will focus on the further rollout of 4G coverage, the launch of Ayoba and Music Time! as well as accelerating our fintech ambitions by fully leveraging our extensive distribution network to offer a range of transfer and payment services to our GSM customer base.

Across the rest of the portfolio we have six focus areas. These are: the continued turnaround of our operations in the West and Central Africa region; the resolution of some of the more complicated regulatory situations; the rollout of MusicTime! and Ayoba across the group; the asset realisation programme; launch of our pan-African MTN 4 Good campaign and delivering on our medium-term targets.”

 

 

 

Lagos 2019 Tech Events – CYBERCHAIN 2019: Cyber Security and Blockchain Conference

The Cyber Security and Blockchain Conference is to be held on the 31st of August, at the RedCarpet Hall, Oniru VI, Lagos. The starting time is 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM West African Time.

Are you interested in a revealing, thought provoking and disruptive conference on the ecosystems of blockchain and cybersecurity? If Yes, then this is a must-attend tech event.

Organized by Vaultbridge, this conference this year has been upgraded to CyberChain, in order to accommodate enthusiasts and experts in both ecosystems from all over the world.

VaultBridge is a software security company in Lekki,Lagos with a focus on Fintech, as well as, advocacy, awareness and adoption drive for cybersecurity and blockchain solutions. The company has strategic industry partners from abroad and here in Nigeria, including KipYa Connect, BIT2BIG, and the EC-Council.

There will be 400 delegates, 6 panelists and twelve speakers at the conference. The speakers include;

  • Ade Atobatele – Digital Globalization Evangelist and Founder at Gboza Gbosa Technology Ltd – Nigeria
  • Adedayo Adebajo – Country Rep. (Nigeria), Jelurida (Switzerland)
  • Linus Kingdom – Country Rep. (Nigeria), Dominium – Netherlands
  • Chuta Chimezie – Founder at Blockchain Nigerian User Group, Regional Director Africa at Paxful Inc. – Nigeria
  • Ojuederie Doris – Coordinator at Blockchainladies.africa, CEO at DRICHWORLD COINPROS LTD Nigeria
  • Fabrice Alomo – Tech Applied Expert, Forbes 30 Under 30, Founder/CEO Hehfit Cameroon
  • Michael Kiberu – C|EH, OCA, OCP Terrada, CEO Kipya Group
  • Sam Liban – Energy and Blockchain Evangelist, Founder of The Sun Protocol Germany.

The blockchain technology and cyber security awareness and adoption is still low in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. Vaultbridge is committed in bridging the gap with various training modules, workshops, seminars, conferences and exhibitions. According to the company, “Anybody that is serious about Cyber Security and Blockchain Technology must be at this Conference”

There will be free tokens (cryptocurrencies) and other valuable stuffs from some of Vaultbridge’s sponsors and partners.

Participants will have first-hand experience of various Cybersecurity concepts, applications and solutions as well as exposure to multiple Blockchain developments and use cases.  You will also learn about blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies. You can register now.

Cowrywise Travel Stole Its Idea from WeMove Rally. Is This True?

       

In a recent Twitter thread, WeMove Rally accused Cowrywise of getting the inspiration for the newly announced Cowrywise Travel from Wemove. Could this be true?

Cowrywise is a secure Nigerian savings and investment platform. Founded in 2017, it is a digital wealth platform for African millennials that helps users to plan, save and invest securely to meet financial goals. The platform allows Nigerians to access mutual funds that invest in companies like Dangote Cement, Total Nigeria, GTBank, Nestle and other high-quality fixed income securities with just NGN100.

Recently, Cowrywise announced the Cowrywise Travel platform which allows users to pay for trips within the Cowrywise app. Users are only required to save daily, monthly or weekly by joining the Cowrywise trip cycle.

The company partnered with high-flying experience creators to launch the “first of its kind” which ensures that users can have their dream vacation. According to a company statement on Twitter on the 5th of August, “the launch of cowrywise.com/travel is in line with a core commitment – to help you invest with a goal in mind. Don’t just invest for investing sake, invest for something beautiful.”

However, on the same day Cowrywise Travel was announced, WeMove Rally tweeted saying that that it inspired the development of Cowrywise Travel. “I’m glad we were able to give them inspiration, but we dey come, we dey pursue money. Make the money land”, said  Celestocalculus, a software craftsman at rally.wemove.co

WeMove Technologies is a transport technology development company with a focus on product design to ease transportation in Africa. It currently runs an online vehicle hire portal, www.wemove.co, where users can find and hire any vehicle they require in Nigeria.

The platform supports vehicle owners listing of their commercially viable vehicles to gain access to a wider niche of customers. The company services include truck hire, van hire, moving, removal, document translation, preview tour, orientation tour, car hire, bus hire and cab services.

In reply, a certain Black Jaguar, speaking for Cowrywise, explained how the plans for Cowrywise Travel has been in works since 2017.

I am quite impressed by the work you do. Given your past experiences, I can understand why you think you inspired this. Now, let me show how this idea evolved. 2017-Early 2018 We realized that a lot of people saved just for the purpose of saving. No solid goals. We decided to help them go further – save for goals. This was the reason we launched Life Goals. Vacation has always been a Life Goal plan on Cowrywise” he said.

He went on to explain the foundation of the travel page in 2017, attached a screenshot, and also explained how they got it to launch in 2019.

Speaking about WeMove Rally, he said that the operations are different from that of Cowrywise Travel.

He further proposed the possibility of a partnership with WeMove, saying, “Honestly, what we should be discussing is a partnership. We have a system that makes payment simpler at no cost to the operators. The more paying clients, the more bus operators need”.

Then, he refuted the claim of WeMove Rally as unsubstantial, and attached a link to a post that indicates that other people can also have a similar idea.

Yesterday, WeMove in reply, explained how it had initiated discussions with CowryWise and how a meeting was held early last year. “And we reached a gentleman’s agreement on what WeMove needed to do, to feed Cowrywise the tours which would be on the app”. He went on to say that he didn’t send an email because of his former relationships with the “bosses” at Cowrywise”.

He concluded by saying, “But I’ve told my people that we won’t make this mistake next time, no matter the relationship.”

A front-end developer, Ibukunoluwa Salau, in a comment on this Twitter thread, mentioned ontripp.com as performing the same operations as  WeMove Rally and Cowrywise Travel.

Cowrywise and PiggyVest Scale up to Become Virtually Digital Banks

On July 30, this year, users of the Nigerian Fintech, online savings and investment platform, PiggyVest, received emails introducing them to the “NUBAN Account Numbers for PiggyVest”

The new PiggyVest NUBAN feature allows users to transfer funds to their PiggyVest wallet via multiple sources. Users can fund their accounts with Internet banking directly, USSD and other bank transfer channels, without needing a debit card.

PiggyVest users can now fund their PiggyFlex accounts through a dedicated bank account number from Providus Bank. Launched in June 2018, the PiggyFlex Account is a sub-account of PiggyVest where all interests earned on the platform are paid to users. Even more, users can now receive transfers from their friends and family, as well as payments for services rendered, straight into their PiggyFlex accounts to be accessed at anytime with no charge.

Around the same time NUBAN launched, Cowrywise, another Nigerian fintech online savings and investment platform, announced Stash, a new feature which was launched last week Friday. Much like the PiggyVest NUBAN, Stash allows users to fund their Cowrywise accounts through all transfer channels from any Nigerian bank. According to the co-founder and CEO of Cowrywise, Rasaq Ahmed, “What we have done with Stash is to plug Cowrywise into the instant payment getaway, just like any other bank account, and what it does is you can move money from any bank account in Nigeria and transfer it to your Cowrywise Stash”

He further explained how Stash, like PiggyFlex Account, has a dedicated virtual number for each user powered by Providus Bank. Speaking on this, he said, “We worked through Team Apt to get it done. Providus Bank is the available bank at the moment. But in the coming weeks, more banks will join the race and begin serving virtual account numbers that anyone can create on the back of any fintech platform. You’ll get to see GTBank, Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, and Wema Bank account numbers in the next few weeks”.

Unlike the PiggyVest platform, transferring funds from the Stash account to a third-party account number attracts a transfer charge of N25. However, this is still far lesser than the regular N52.50 charged by Nigerian banks for inter-bank transfers.

According to both Cowrywise and PiggyVest, these new features will aid users in funding their investment and savings plans, while keeping emergency

Carbon Introduces a 1% Transfer Transaction Fee

Formerly known as Paylater, the Nigerian Fintech startup, Carbon, has introduced a 1 per cent transaction fee for each time a user transfers funds to their Wallet on the app. This became effective from yesterday, the 5th of August, 2019.

The Carbon mobile app was launched three years ago with a goal to empower users with the financial access needed to pursue a life of prosperity and dignity. To sharpen this focus, Carbon launched its current best feature – the Wallet, in December 2018. This Wallet feature allows Carbon users to store value in the app, and benefit from the cheapest financial transactions in Nigeria.

Prior to the launch of the Digital Wallet feature, performing transactions on the Carbon mobile app required users to employ their bank debit card, or transfer money from a separate bank account to lock in an investment or make a loan repayment. Since its launch in December, the funding for the Wallet was free and wallet top ups attracted no fees.

On the reason for this recent change, the company explained that the no-funding Wallet service came at a significant cost as the company had to pay fees to the debit card issuer and payment processors for each card that a user top-up using Carbon. The company further said that its fast-growing customer base has made managing the cost incurred from the service “unsustainable”, hence the “reluctant” decision of making a little change by passing the cost to customers.

Nonetheless, users still won’t be charged for SMS fees, maintenance fees, and other charges common with the traditional banks. According to the company in a statement, “this change will allow us to redirect resources into faster innovation and make Carbon the perfect financial partner”.

Meanwhile, the company further disclosed that it will be releasing new features, including allowing users to fund their wallet directly from their bank account through either bank transfers or USSD, without the need for card top-ups.