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SafeBoda has finally launched in Nigeria, away from the riotous Lagos



Ugandan motorcycle-hailing company SafeBoda has finally launched in Nigeria, months after speculation trailed its initial proposed launch in May. Founded in 2015, SafeBoda’s proposed launch in Lagos was first signalled by its hiring of former Andela Community Manager, Babajide Duroshola, as its Country Manager.

SafeBoda has however definitively launched in southwestern Ibadan, a 130.6km driving distance away from Lagos state where its bikes are yet to be seen. 

SafeBoda launches at an interesting time in Nigeria’s motorcycle hailing sector with major players and investments seeking dominance in the space. This year alone has seen some major investments (monetary and human resource) and innovation in the sector: raised a $7 million  Series A round in June and just recently launched its electric bikes which are said to go way faster than the normal 200cc bikes; Gokada raised a $5.3 million Series A round and hired Jobberman co-founder Ayodeji Adewunmi, as co-CEO; and ORide remains backed by the weightiest investments (Opera’s $40 million digital development fund focused solely on Nigeria).

SafeBoda itself, in May, also raised an undisclosed Series B funding in May to help with its expansion plans having raised a $1.1 million fund last year.

But there’s also been a myriad of operational and regulatory challenges, a lot of which has grown vehement from the transport unions which run like Mafias and the state government, which has taken a rather docile stance more or less, to the plight of the bike hailing operators. 

This year saw Gokada temporarily close shop to get its house in order after CEO, Fahim Saleh‘s underwhelming experience with his company’s services while visiting Lagos. Whether this temporary closure and fixing house did Gokada any monumental good remains to be seen.

From a proposed N25 million licensing fee, to a N500 daily levy to operate city-wide, there has been no end to the travails of the operators with regulators formal and informal in Lagos state, certifiably the sector’s biggest and most viable market in the country. There has also been reports of physical altercations and bike seizures. 

SafeBoda’s last foray was into Nairobi, Kenya where it launched mid 2018. The company employs an aggregation model in its cities of operation soliciting the services of local bike riders who are then signed to the platform and receive commissions for rides taken, much like Uber or Bolt. Lagos’ local bike riders on the other hand, are technically operating on borrowed time given that a 2012 decree bans them from operating on more than 500 roads in the city. The law also bans bikes less than 200cc. There are also identity issues and security/safety issues inherent with assimilating these riders to a platform. Operators like MAX and ORide, offer an asset financing model where riders are hired, handed 200cc bikes which they pay for in installments and receive proper training and identification to ensure they can be traced in the event of any security or safety breach.

This might explain why SafeBoda is first launching definitively in Ibadan where much of these problems are nonexistent. ORide launched in Ibadan in July and both operators will now be exploring the market in the western city where gridlock traffic is not an issue, and seeking to grow their services there.

The post SafeBoda has finally launched in Nigeria, away from the riotous Lagos appeared first on TechCabal.

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Did you miss the TC Edtech Townhall? Here’s what went down



On Friday, 29 November 2019, TechCabal hosted its fourth townhall for 2019. TC Townhall: EdTech and the Future of Work was a dynamic event that brought together education technology entrepreneurs and innovators preparing people for the jobs of the future.

Held at the Zone Tech Park in Gbagada, the goal of the townhall was to identify the issues in the education sector and how people can latch on to skills that are relevant to the future of work. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of interest in this discussion, as the hall was packed with nearly 200 attendees.

So if you missed the townhall, this is your one chance to catch up on what went down, so follow closely.

The doors opened at 9 am with the good folks at Odunjinrin and Adefulu, a law firm, providing legal advice for 30 minutes.

The main event officially kicked off at 10 am, with the welcome address from Chidi Uguru, Big Cabal Media’s very own Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships.

Next up was a lightning talk from Folawe Omikunle, Managing Director of Teach for Nigeria.

Following her talk was the keynote presentation made by Tomiwa Aladekomo, the CEO of Big Cabal Media. In addition to an earlier video presentation, Aladekomo’s presentation was important for context setting. For the benefit of the guests, he explored the trends in the edtech industry and who the startups are and what they do.

Sequel to the keynote presentation was the first panel session of the day: the State of Edtech in Africa. The panellists included: Tunji Adegbesan, Founder of GidiMo; Tayo Olaniyan, Nigeria Adaptation Manager at Ubongo Kids; ‘Dimeji Falana, CEO/Co-founder at Edves; Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Founder Rise Labs/ CEO of Passnownow. The session was moderated by Aanu Adeoye, the Managing Editor of TechCabal.

The panellists were as passionate about the problems in edtech as they are about their tech solutions. “Edtech is only going to prosper to the extent that the entire Nigerian system begins to rethink the process of investing in education,” said Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, one of the panellists.

“The Nigerian educational system teaches you to read and regurgitate rather than to apply themselves to problem-solving and critical thinking,” she emphasized.

Beyond the challenges in the industry, the panellists explained how their solutions work and how they are addressing challenges that exist in the market.

Following this panel was a brief 15 minutes break and the show continued. The guests got to see product exhibitions from STEM MET and Imisi 3D, a startup using virtual reality to improve learning abilities for people.

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Next up, Chika Nwobi took to the stage. Nwobi is the founder of the developer training company, Decagon. He revealed why he started the company and his passion to equip young people with the technical skills they need to succeed.

The focus on equipping youths with the needed skills continued with the second panel of the day. Titled ‘Preparing African Youths & Employers for the Future of Work’, the panellists included: Seyi Ladejobi, Head of Employability at LSETF; Tolu Agunbiade, General Manager Nigeria at ALX; Femi Taiwo, Executive Director LEAP Africa; Solape Hammond, Acting Commissioner, Wealth Creation for the Lagos State Government. Emmanuel Emechete from the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY), moderated the session.

Passionate about the youth, Seyi and Tolu spoke about their work to train young people and what skills are needed for the future of work.

Following the panel was another product showcase, this time from ScholarX and FlexiSAF.

Guests also listened to another round of lightning talks titled: “For Edtech to succeed in Africa, we need?’. Anna Ekeledo, an Executive Director at AfriLabs gave the first talk, explaining how partnerships are important for edtech to succeed.

Dayo Koleowo, a Partner at Microtraction, gave the second talk. As a startup investor, Koleowo listed some things that EdTech startups must know when working in the industry. Here are a few:

1.  Understand the edtech space, don’t just assume what schools need.

2.  Have educators involved in building your solutions; don’t neglect the teachers in the consultative process.

3.  Develop high-quality content.

Next, was the last panel of the day, and it was a huge eye-opener. Titled “Investing in Africa’s Edtech Sector”, the panel was made up of heavyweights: Kola Aina; the Chairman of Edu Platforms and Founder of Venture Platforms; Gossy Ukanwoke, the Founder of Beni American University; and Bunmi Lawson, MD/CEO of EdFin. The session was moderated by Bankole Oluwafemi, the Editor-at-Large at TechCabal.

Two of the panellists double as both investors and EdTech entrepreneurs, so they shared their experiences, especially the regulatory challenges in the industry.

The main event officially ended with the closing remarks and vote of thanks by Tomiwa Aladekomo.

Afterwards, there was an invite-only startup and investor matching session where selected startups had an opportunity to meet with potential investors.

The post Did you miss the TC Edtech Townhall? Here’s what went down appeared first on TechCabal.

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French VC firm Partech is fishing for innovation in Africa’s informal economy



A year ago, venture capital fund Partech Africa gained attention following its investments in two promising African startups. South Africa’s Yoco provides portable point-of-sale machines to merchants, without contracts or monthly fees. TradeDepot, a Nigerian mobile B2B firm, gives retailers access to a wide range of goods directly available from FMCG factories.

Yoco and TradeDepot are examples of what Partech’s Africa drive aims to achieve: spurring innovation around the informal economy.

In 2019, Partech Africa made two follow-on investments and six new deals in Africa, including a leading role in the $5m raised by Kudi in April. Half of the eight transactions Partech has deployed were between $3m and $7m. Earlier in the year, they doubled their Africa VC fund to $143 million and opened a Nairobi office to complement operations in Dakar.

A nascent fintech based in Lagos, Kudi plays in the money transfer and e-payments space through an agent network. It is a model that provides individuals an entry point to the digital economy, without the regular prerequisites for formal access.

“These companies have validated our investment strategy: outstanding team, with validated model, addressing fundamental economic opportunities will build the next African champions,” says Tidjane Dème, general partner at Partech Africa, of their 2019 investments.  “We will continue to focus on financial inclusion, online and mobile consumer services, as well as mobility, supply chain services and digitization of the informal economy.”

What exactly is the informal economy?

Economists are revising how they measure and define an informal economy. One guide is to say it comprises “economic activity that falls outside the regulated economy and tax system, such as street vending or unregistered taxi drivers.”

The IMF estimates that between 2010 and 2017, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are the regions with the highest share of informality both at 34 percent of GDP. The numbers are much lower in North America (9%) and OECD countries (15%), probably because an informal economy is associated with “low productivity, poverty, high unemployment, and slower economic growth.”

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Informal economies are shrinking globally. But it takes time for economies to transition to formality. So what’s the catch for venture capitalists like Partech coming in at this time?

Building innovative pan-African companies

The informal economy is “where we see strong local African innovation,” said Cyrill Collon, general partner at Partech, in a phone call with TechCabal. For those who crack the informal economy, there is a “crazy playground to be a game-changing company in Africa and beyond.”

Of the nine companies on Partech’s portfolio, five already do business in more than one country.

Collon says the reach of the companies beyond the countries where they were founded “deeply demonstrates how African entrepreneurs are addressing the need of the continent and potentially those of emerging global economies.”

For Partech, innovation on business model is a key metric for judging an African company’s potential. “If you are capable of building new business models, you have a reach that no one can have,” Collon says.

Though they decline to reveal all at the request of the companies involved, Collon disclosed to TechCabal that Partech’s 2019 portfolio companies are spread across all regions in Africa. Nigeria has four of the nine companies on the list. May as well be deserved: 60% of its economy is informal, among the highest in Africa on that score.

The post French VC firm Partech is fishing for innovation in Africa’s informal economy appeared first on TechCabal.

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