Over the weekend we sent a letter talking about how African startups like Yassir and Klasha are taking advantage of the new football season. If you missed the mail, you can read it here.
In today’s letter, we explore:
- FCCPC’s latest stance on Nigerian fintech, Sycamore
- the appointment of Kobo360 CEO as commissioner in Enugu state
- Nigerian government’s plan to build AI developers’ communities
And other noteworthy information like:
- the latest African tech startup deals
- opportunities, interesting reads, and more
The big three
#1. FCCPC reinstates Nigerian fintech, Sycamore as an approved digital lender
The news: The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has removed Nigerian fintech, Sycamore from the list of delisted digital lenders in Nigeria, according to the latest directory on its website.
Why it matters: Last month, FCCPC announced that it had “permanently delisted” two digital money lenders, including Sycamore, due to unethical practices such as duplicity and the use of Android Package Kits (APK) file formats.
According to Babatunde Irukera, CEO of FCCPC, although both lenders were licensed by the commission, the duplicity is executed such that approved digital lenders use these alternate channels for prohibited conduct.
However, a Sycamore spokesperson told Bendada.com that the company was impersonated by the erring app; Get Loan. Our investigations revealed that Get Loan operates with a fake address and is not affiliated with Sycamore.
“Since being made aware of this situation, we have been in active cooperation with the appropriate authorities, including the FCCPC, to identify and address the imposter responsible for these deceptive practices,” Sycamore said.
The “Get Loan” app has been removed from Google Playstore and added to a watch list alongside 19 other unapproved digital lenders in Nigeria.
Know more: The latest directory of licensed digital lenders in Nigeria is made up of 154 companies; the regulator has listed the companies alongside the apps that they operate to avoid duplicity.
Meanwhile, 40 other digital lenders are said to have conditional approval to operate; and nine including “Get Loan” have been delisted.
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#2. Another Nigerian tech CEO gets government appointment
The news: Enugu state governor, Peter Mbah, has appointed Obi Ozor, the co-founder and CEO of Kobo360, as the commissioner of transport. Obi was sworn in on Friday by Governor Peter Mbah alongside 19 others.
“Your selection was largely driven by your track records, your experience, your background, and it’s our hope that you are going to bring those experiences to bear and to work for the people of Enugu State,” Mr Mbah told the commissioners at the swearing-in ceremony. “In this journey of greatness, growth, and development, I look forward to working with you all to actualize the Enugu State of our dreams, together.”
Know more: The founder of the YC-backed company will be bringing his over six years of logistics and supply chain experience to drive the goals of the Enugu state executive council.
Since its launch in 2018, Kobo360 has worked with over 50,000 truck drivers in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso to help them transport over 760 million kilos (1.67 billion pounds) of goods, worth an estimated $200 billion.
His appointment is coming a few weeks after another Nigerian tech leader, 'Bosun Tijani, the co-founder and CEO of CcHUB was nominated by the country’s president for a ministerial appointment. Tijani has since congratulated Obi on his appointment.
Iyin Aboyeji, co-founder of Future Africa describes Obi’s appointment as a “superb cabinet pick”. “Our numbers are growing,” he posted on Saturday. Aboyeji’s Future Africa invested in Kobo360 but has now exited.
#3. NITDA plans to build AI developers’ communities across Nigeria
The news: The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has disclosed its plan to set up Artificial Intelligence (AI) developers’ communities across the state.
According to the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, the agency will leverage initiatives like the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics to drive the future of technology in the country. The agency recently conducted training for AI developers in collaboration with the Google Developers Group.
“The vision is to create a community of developers across the country where people can come, learn, and after that, they can teach others or start their businesses and impact society,” Inuwa said.
Know more: Per the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2022, out of 181 countries worldwide, Nigeria is ranked 97 in the world and 5th in Sub-Saharan Africa. The index ranks countries based on 39 indicators across three pillars: government; technology sector; and data and infrastructure.
Since last year, NITDA has been working with stakeholders on the National Artificial Intelligence Policy. “This is envisaged to reposition Nigeria's economy by leveraging the opportunities that digital technologies, including the development, use, and adoption of AI provide by proactively facilitating the development of Nigeria into a sustainable digital economy,” according to Hajia Hadiza Umar, NITDA's Head of Corporate and External Relations.
💰 State of Funding in Africa
Of the 25 black-led startups selected for the Harvard Innovation Labs and Amazon Web Services NextGen Accelerator, 12 are founded by students studying in African universities including the Federal University of Technology, Akure—the Nigerian university where the founders of Fullgap met.
Check the table below for more insights into the venture capital activities from last week.
Newly launched VC funds
- Antler, an early-stage venture capital firm, has launched a $60 million fund to invest in startups across the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan region.
- Egyptian Venture capital firm, Flat6Labs has rolled out a new sector-specific accelerator, Makers, to support startups in the construction technology industry. The Makers ConTech Accelerator Program will provide select startups with up to $100,000 in funding per startup
- Cairo-based B2B pharmaceutical marketplace, Grinta, has acquired its counterpart Auto-Cure for an undisclosed value. This is the second acquisition for Grinta. It acquired PH Store, which also works along the same vertical. Since then, the company has served over 7,000 pharmacies and delivered over 200,000 orders.
- Mastercard has agreed to buy a minority stake in MTN’s fintech unit, MoMo, Bloomberg reports. This comes two years after the global payment processor invested $100 million in Airtel’s mobile money business.
Here are other important stories in the media:
- roHealth rebrands to Motherboard: roHealth, the employee health benefits platform, is rebranding to become Motherboard, a B2B comprehensive employee benefits platform for Africa. Motherboard allows employees to select benefits from 100s of providers (including Shoprite, Filmhouse Cinema, and 15+ HMOs) within their employer's set budget.
- The dark side of venture capital: Venture capital's enticing embrace brings rapid growth and funds, but founders face a tumultuous journey. Levi Cee writes on how startups must navigate their shadows with resilience.
- Yassir partners with PSG: Algerian super app, Yassir has signed a global partnership with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for three seasons to develop its brand further internationally.
- Understanding user onboarding and fraud in Africa: A deep dive into the state of KYC: user onboarding and fraud in Africa. Mark Straub, CEO of Smile ID, and Wiza Jalakasi, Director of Ebanx Africa Market Development share insights.
- Scammers show the dark side of mobile money in Malawi: In January, Pemphero Mphande, a Malawian social media influencer, sued his country’s biggest mobile phone network for failing to stop fraudsters who stole his identity.
We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.
Product & Design
- Huawei — Product Manager, Lagos
- Amazon — Senior Product Manager, Cape Town
- Flutterwave — VP, Product Engineering, Remote
Data & Engineering
- Kuda — Data Analyst, Nigeria
- Yoco — Senior Data Engineer, Cape Town
- McKinsey — Intern Software Engineer, Lagos
Admin & Growth
- Clafiya — Social Media Manager, Remote
- Binance — Senior Marketing Manager, Remote
- TikTok — Content Partnerships Manager, Lagos
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