With the talk about an african unicorn—a valuation of at least $1 billion, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that really matter. The value that a company offers and how it improves the lives of its customers. While there are lots of complains about the services that some Nigerian companies offer and their lack of customer centricity, there are others that are the very opposite. The most populous black nation in the world has seen a rise of talents and also a surge of companies tackling local problems, although there are still a lot of gaps that innovative companies can cover in various industries.
There has been a lot of rave from customers primarily on social media about certain companies that are impacting their lives positively. These companies are changing the way people are living their lives by enabling them to be better versions of themselves by giving them the tools to work with or helping them solve an urgent need.
While these coys aren’t unicorn certified yet, they are putting smiles on the faces of average Nigerians and enabling an environment that would bring enormous changes to the Nigerian society.
Here are some of the Nigerian companies that are on the come up, charting new frontiers in the Nigerian business scene:
A darling Nigerian company (can it be called a Nigerian company anymore? Global eh?), that has been a breath of fire in the Nigerian tech scene, developing world-class african talent (software engineers) and extending them to the companies around the globe. They recently received a funding round led by African investors [CRE VC] worth $40Million.
Initially operated from a vacant duplex in ikoyi, andela is now a registered US corporation, thus illuminating Africa as a global hub in the US. With its tentacles spread across africa, andela is training and building a horde of brilliant African developers for the rest of the world.
Conceived in 2014, andela is on it’s way to become a notable global tech company. Providing access to opportunities for people in Africa who want to learn and succeed is a major aim of andela’s. The company mines the best of the abundance of talent available in Africa, which is usually locked up due to poor educational systems and civic infrastructures.
This talent accelerator is receiving a lot of endearment, especially from africans since it is helping them unleash their potential while spurring them to be visionnaires.
There is scarcity of blood in Nigeria, reason being Nigerians are not in the practice of donating blood. The constant need for blood donation in every society is quite crucial. Blood is one of the most precious gift one can give another person; A gift of life. A decision to donate blood can be the determining factor between saving or losing a life or several lives if your blood is separated into its different components.
Lifebank is a health startup that is seeking to simplify the process of finding and transporting blood to where it is needed in Nigeria. Having developed a marketplace app that maintains a database of blood available in various blood banks in Lagos and allows hospitals with patients in need of blood find they the type of blood they need, order pints and have them delivered on time.
Lifebank is also trying to foster a culture of blood donation amongst Nigerians. “Not all super heroes wear capes, some give blood” lifebank says.
In 2016, the company had moved 1,968 pints of blood and blood products to 65 hospitals around Lagos, helping over 300 Nigerians give blood thereby saving up to 900 lives in the process.
Lifebank was started because of a simple conviction, that Africans deserve access to good health care.
Most Nigerians are familiar with a square wooden box with a narrow hole at the top named kolo that is used for squeezing in naira notes or coins. Kolo is a Nigerian representation of the widely known fancy rubber pig with a thin hole called piggybank.
A digital Nigerian savings startup named piggybank is spearheading the digital savings culture in Nigeria. Piggybank is an online savings platform that helps manage spending habits by automating the process of saving daily, weekly or monthly. It allows you to withdraw for free on set withdrawal dates but if you try to withdraw before the set withdrawal dates you will get charged a 5-percent penalty, thereby encouraging you to leave your savings untouched till your savings target is reached.
While saving is a big issue for people around the world, it’s a bigger issue for Africans such as Nigerians who don’t have basic amenities and the mass of which live under a dollar a day. It’s hard to think about saving when you haven’t had anything to eat. Piggy bank, a financial technology company wants to create a savings culture among Nigerians and africa as a whole. They have a mobile app that enables you save money quickly however you like or recurrently with a particular timeframe set into it. They are giving people a chance to set saving goals and actually reach them.
In a country that has approximately 60 million account holders, only 15 million have any form of credit history to qualify for a loan leaving the other 45 million with no likelihood of obtaining any formal consumer or small business loans.
Paylater decided to be an online consumer lender without collateral to every state in the country, serving both the bank and the unbanked, at any time of the day. All you need is an internet-enabled device, a Facebook account and a bank account.
Getting personal loans or business loans is one of the hardest things to in Nigeria. Paylater is another fintech company doing wonderful things by helping people scale monetary hurdles in their lives. Due to a lack of credit history, big financial institutions in Nigeria find it hard to give loans to people.
Paylater is also covering that gap by creating a lending loans to people who don’t usually have access to credit, while generating a credit score for people when they jump on their platform based on the data gathered from the individual.
Paylater decided to be an online consumer lender without collateral to every state in the country, at any time of the day. All you need is an internet-enabled device, a Facebook account and a bank account.
cMapIT started out with an objective to map out infrastructural failures in African countries and turning them into datasets that would be made open. cMapIT is a civic tech startup that tracks social issues in Nigeria, promoting the healthy use of geodata to address the many gaps in Nigeria, from public health to road infrastructure and housing.
It uses data to help Nigerians track social issues, understand the impact of governance, and fight corruption using an array of web and mobile applications.There is a huge lack of data in africa which we need curb to tackle the problems plaguing the continent.
A host of open source tools has been developed by the company to track social issues and also government projects. Thereby enabling government accountability to the common folk. cMapIT has opened its first tech hub to adapt the project to local use in different Nigerian Local communities with the goal of setting up Local tech ecosystems.
cMapIT is giving a voice to open data in Africa, data that is available and easily accessible to anyone. The benefits of open data are endless.
The need for the work cMapIT is doing has never been greater if we are going to attain sustainable development in Nigeria
Dubbed the Nigerian netflix, Iroko is disrupting the african film industry. An online Nigerian entertainment media distribution company that offers online media products including its popular movie streaming website named iROKOtv focused on Nigerian film (Nollywood) productions, iroko+ (in collaboration with canal+) provides video content for residents of French Speaking Africa (FSA) and the amazing ROK Studios, an in-house production and financing studio that gives IROKO greater control over the cost and quality of content. ROK is available on both SKY and DSTV.
Iroko, is an alternative distribution platform to the then more prominent platform of VCDs/DVDs that was so prevalent in Nigeria. Iroko forever changed Nollywood and its economics, by independently fueling a near x10 increase in PayTV and Internet TV, inducting a new Nollywood.
“Iroko is really about educating, evangelising and embracing a new audience for paid video content in Africa.” At the core of Iroko’s values is localisation, bringing viewers the content they will enjoy, one that is also nostalgic while removing the barrier that can be language.
Iroko is providing unique solutions for unique consumer needs,like the iroko kiosks that enable consumers to receive content without having to use broadband data and finding technical solutions to data compression to ease the data burdened faced by consumers in Nigeria.
Technology is helping African entrepreneurs solve infrastructural challenges across the continent. Nigerian entrepreneurs are getting into play than ever before,seeking ways to better Nigerian lives by providing local solutions.
There are emerging brands in Nigeria that are doing an awesome job of creating enormous value while enjoying steady growth even though the conditions needed for that growth, including better access to information and funding do not abound or are nearly non-existent.
Apart from the ones listed, there are more companies that are doing great work and filling voids that are existent in the country. We will continue to laud such companies and seek out potential ones.
Will any of these companies go on to gain unicorn status? We are yet to know. But as long as they continue to give value, innovate and impact lives we’ll continue to cherish them.