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Scaling up blues: Through the lens of five Nigerian startup founders

Scaling up blues: Through the lens of five Nigerian startup founders
April 30
10:00 2022

Young Nigerian entrepreneurs are constantly seeking to climb up the ladder of success. Nigeria’s tech ecosystem is one of the biggest in the world and is largely dominated by youths who are constantly creating solutions to address critical needs across the continent.

According to a 2021 ‘State of Entrepreneurship in Nigeria’ report by FATE Foundation, 67 percent of entrepreneurs in Nigeria are youths between 18 and 35 years.

The report says over 71 percent of entrepreneurs on the micro-level struggle to scale up due to the unhealthy, disorganised, and low funding opportunities and/or government support.

In this report, five startup founders shared their experiences working in the Nigerian environment, dealing with policies and regulations as well as ease of doing business.

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KELECHI OLEKA, PAYSLICE FOUNDER

Startup founders

Oleka is the founder of Payslice, a fintech company that allows employees to get access to their salaries on demand. They can also get paid for their work through the platform.

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As a young startup, he believes the startup bill would go a long way in improving and easing the growth of his business.

“The government needs to sign the startup bill into law. This is because some investors are worried about the business environment. Although startups are doing well without the law, the bill will however give the guarantee for investors to know that their money is safe,” Kelechi said.

“The government has been open to tech but is yet to understand how much benefit is to be gotten from the tech ecosystem.

“One of the challenges faced is the difficulty in having a startup licensed for operations. In more advanced countries, it’s easier to send an application and in a few weeks get the business approved but in Nigeria, one has to know the highest-ranked person to be favoured.

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“Government should help entrepreneurs have easy access to becoming licensed after making all requirements and have an enabling environment.”

LILIAN AKUNWA AND PETER DANIEL, CO-FOUNDERS, FAMEBIRDS

Akunwa and Daniel are co-founders of Famebirds — an online influencer marketing platform that connects influencers to businesses to promote their products and services and achieve more sales and growth.

startup founders

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For both entrepreneurs, government support and a conducive environment are all they need to attract investors to young businesses like theirs.

“We would like the government to grant us adequate funding that can power and help us optimise our tech solutions, favourable business policies that allow our business to thrive in the environment,” they said.

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“Also, the need for the government’s backing for homegrown businesses like ours for more credibility and to attract foreign investors and global relevance.”

DAMILARE ADEOGUN, SCHROW FOUNDER

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startup founders

Adeogun is the founder of Schrow, a platform that serves as an insurance company for business or payment transactions. He believes that funding is a major issue that small businesses contend with.

“Most investors are foreigners and what Nigeria needs are more local investors who will invest in startups to ensure that there is growth in the sector, as well as the return from the businesses, do not get exported,” Adeogun said.

“The government should create regulations that would encourage venture capitalists, and indigenous investors to put more investments into local businesses so that the capital and growth stay within Nigeria’s ecosystem.”

AKINBO AKINLABI, LOOPTEL FOUNDER

As the founder of LoopTel, a telecoms infrastructure provider solving the problem of limited access to voice and data communications, Akinlabi believes Nigeria’s telecom services have not reached many rural and urban areas, thereby seeking to provide extended services. 

He said the government can do more by encouraging businesses with a conducive environment as well as making healthy policies that would help young businesses or startups have a strong foundation.

“The government and regulators have been fair in enforcing rules guiding a startup. We would only just appreciate more favourable regulations that allow local and small businesses not to see the beginning of their business as quite burdensome,” he said.

“It would be good if tech can be inculcated into the school system. This would make young people have an idea of what it is like, and prepare them for tech-enabled jobs. Technology is taking over and it is important for young ones to get prepared for the change that it is bringing.”

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