Stears has closed a $600,000 (₦233 million) seed round to hire more people and build out new media and information products that will "challenge mis-information in Nigeria".
The company which is famous for citing the quote: "In God we trust, everyone else must bring data", does that through its two divisions; Stears Business—its publishing arm which provides business news analysis—and Stears Data—its data collection, research and analytics division.
Stears mantra: "In God we trust, everyone else must bring data"
Today, Stears is announcing the close of a $600,000 (₦233 million) seed round led by an undisclosed Nigerian-based fund with participation from two other companies, namely, Luminate—which is part of the Omidyar Group—and another unnamed local venture capital firm.
Stears says the investment will be used to hire more people to expand its teams, build out new media and information products, and ramp up data collection. Stears Data will also be launching a digital platform, called CoreData. The digital platform will enable governments, development organisations, and corporations to have access to economic and demographic data on sub-national level across Nigeria.
"Amidst the economic and individual uncertainties we face, we cannot overemphasize the importance of having the right information to act", Abdul Abdulrahim, one of the co-founders of Stears said.
The fact that the Nigerian government does not have the exact figure of the country's population is evidence of Nigeria's data bankruptcy. The last nation-wide population census was done 14 years ago.
The dearth of accurate data in Nigeria has also hindered the provision of financial and humanitarian support to the people most affected by and vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Abdul, who is also a Doctoral Researcher in Computer Science at the University of Oxford, explained CoreData is tackling this challenge by aggregating sub-national business, demographic, economic and financial data to ensure important decisions are driven by data, unbiased analysis and an understanding of people's welfare.
"CoreData is currently in beta testing and is scheduled for public release in June 2020", Abdul said.
During the 2019 General Elections, Stears managed an Election Centre that provided real-time election results, solving the problems of poor access and inaccurate data.
"Media misinformation and limited access to data have been perennial problems in Nigeria for many years", Preston Ideh, CEO of Stears said. "Decision-making in African countries cannot be significantly improved until data, accurate news and analysis are easily accessible to all".
He explained that the mission of Stears is to make it easy for anyone, anywhere in the world to easily access high-quality information on Nigeria.
"We believe the best way to realise this vision is to provide an end-to-end information service to our customers, by targeting individuals and citizens with trusted and high-quality news analysis, while providing corporations and governments with bespoke data access and services", Preston said.
Speaking on its investment in Stears, Luminate stated Stears is an example of a new generation of media companies.
"Stears is online-first, an example of a new generation of media companies that is challenging the traditional model of heavy advertising dependency and analogue newsrooms by monetising their editorial, data, and research expertise", reads the statement from Luminate.
Four years ago, Stears was launched in the London School of Economics as a media publication focused on financial news in Nigeria. The founding team comprises of Preston Ideh, Abdul Abdulrahim, Foluso Ogunlana and Michael Famoroti.
The publication later pivoted into the information services industry after observing the challenge of finding high-quality sources of information across Nigeria and realising the impact an advertising-driven revenue model can have on editorial independence.
Since then, they have been joined by Fikayo Akeredolu, who had worked with Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters, and Yvette Dimiri, former head of audience engagement at BusinessDay.