BD Insider 202: Patricia seeks to swap owed funds for company shares

Patricia is still struggling to repay debts. We also covered the MoU between Syndicate Bio and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research.

BD Insider 202: Patricia seeks to swap owed funds for company shares
Hanu Fejiro, Founder and CEO of Patricia

South Africa’s Competition Commission wants to investigate digital platforms like Meta and Google for unfairly competing with news publishers by using their content to generate ad revenue.

“The inquiry comes at a critical moment for the media industry as news consumption rapidly shifts online and traditional sources of funding to print and broadcast advertising decline,” Doris Tshepe, the competition commissioner said.

Inside the brief, we also brought news about:

  • the latest about Patricia's debt repayment plan
  • Syndicate Bio's partnership with the Nigerian government.

We also added other noteworthy information, including opportunities for healthtech founders and tech enthusiasts in Nigeria.

📰 The Midweek Brief

#1. Patricia asks customers to exchange debts for company shares

In the beginning: Two months ago, Patricia replaced customers’ assets—which were previously held in Naira or Bitcoin—with a newly launched native token, Patricia Token. This assets swap was done without the consent of the customers.

“Converting customers’ balances to PTK without their consent looks very bad on Patricia. In fact, according to Securities Exchange Commissions guidelines, any entity launching a token to be used by Nigerians must first submit a roadmap of the token to SEC,” says Bolu Abiodun, a Blockchain Reporter at Techpoint Africa. “If Patricia meant no harm with the launch of PTK, the execution might have killed the project before it even took off.”

A few days after the launch of Patricia Token which was met with widespread criticism, the crypto exchange released a whitepaper detailing how it intends to pay customers following the 2022 cyber hack that robbed the startup of about $2 million. Patricia froze withdrawals since the hack.

During a town hall meeting last month, Hanu Fejiro, the startup's founder and CEO told customers that Patricia has raised funding and is set to start repayment.

At the moment: On Tuesday, Techpoint Africa reported that the Nigeria-focused crypto exchange has asked one of its customers to swap his balance for company shares. “We have found investors but this is the only thing keeping us. This is the best we can do right now. It is most likely our last resort. We just need your cooperation,” according to a spokesperson at Patricia.

Most customers have not been able to access their balance on Patricia in the last six months.

What's next? Patricia said that it would provide a detailed explanation regarding its new plan in the coming days.

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#2. Ex-54gene founder's new genomics startup inks deal with Nigeria

The news: Syndicate Bio has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to conduct drug discovery research on infectious and non-infectious diseases in Nigeria.

“After several months operating in stealth mode, today marks a pivotal moment for Syndicate Bio. Our signed MoU with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research enables us to shift from stealth to actionable impact, empowering inclusive advancements in African genomics,” Abasi Ene-Obong, co-founder and CEO of Syndicate Bio said in a statement seen by

L-R: Babatunde Salako, NIMR's Director-General, and Syndicate Bio's CEO Abasi Ene-Obong

Know more: Ene-Obong founded the now-defunct 54gene, a YC-backed genomics startup. Alongside Jumi Popoola and Estelle Dogbo, he launched Syndicate Bio in September to drive genomics and precision medicine initiatives across the world’s most diverse regions, starting from Africa.

 “[Syndicate Bio will] use large-scale partnerships with governments, pharma companies, academia, and other stakeholders to drive local precision medicine impact while creating powerful datasets that can be used for drug discovery and development,” these were his words during the launch.

This MoU is the first partnership to be disclosed by the startup.

As part of this partnership, the duo will establish a training program for young scientists in Nigeria, aimed at providing theoretical and practical knowledge of molecular biology, genetics and genomic techniques, thereby equipping them to drive Africa’s scientific narrative, according to Ene-Obong.

Additionally, NIMR will provide ethical oversight through its internal ethics body and the National Health Research Ethics Committee in managing the data and samples generated by the research projects.

👀 What else happened?

  • Andela launched an AI solution for tech hiring: Andela, a pioneer of early software developer growth in Africa—now a “​​global network for remote technical talent” has launched Andela Talent Cloud, an integrated, end-to-end platform to match global technologists with companies seeking to bolster capacity and skill sets.
  • Pade wants to help employees get paid before payday: Nigerian HRTech startup, Pade has launched Earned Wages Access which provides employees with access to their earned wages when needed, instead of the typical month end remuneration.
  • Will Nigerian telcos and banks finally call a truce? The former director of tech and ops at NIBSS is now leading the Nigerian Communications Commission. Can his expertise resolve the USSD debt dispute between telcos and banks? Johnstone writes.
  • South African adtech startup, Adbot launches in Nigeria: MTN Nigeria has partnered with Adbot to enhance the online visibility of Nigerian SMEs through MTN’s Thryve Google Ads services, which provides 1Gb of data, a minimum of 10 website conversions, and 500 ad views on Google.

💼 Opportunities

  • For healthtech founders: The Halcyon Fellowship has opened applications for founders at the MVP stage building innovative solutions in healthcare. Apply by October 21, 2023
  • Interested in becoming a technical talent? The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy is accepting applications for its 3 Million Technical Talent Program. Learn more about the program.

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