We starting today with the BD Insiders' Perspective.
Last week, Nigerian home service platform, Eden Life launched an e-commerce marketplace that will enable vendors to sell various products. We asked Nadayar Enegesi, co-founder and CEO of Eden Life how this vertical will drive profitability for the startup, here’s what he said:
The introduction of Marketplace isn’t just a step; it’s a leap toward uniting diverse possibilities in one seamless platform. Imagine finding everything you desire in one place – be it food, cosmetics, electronics, or medicine. Marketplace isn’t just an extension; it's an expansion of Edenlife’s promise to curate top-tier vendors dedicated to helping you flourish.”
We will bring you more from our conversation with Nadayar later today, join our telegram channel to get notified when it is published.
In today's letter, we also explore:
- the unapproved IMTOs in Ghana
- full degree programme approval at NUTM
- the timeline of events at Open AI over the weekend
We also curated other noteworthy information, including job opportunities.
The big three
#1. LemFi, and seven others listed as unapproved IMTOs in Ghana
The news: The Bank of Ghana on Thursday (Nov. 16, 2023) released the list of eight remittance providers that are operating in the country's foreign exchange market without approval.
The international money transfer organisations (IMTO) on the list includes: LemFi (formerly Lemonade Finance), Wise, TransferGo, Xoom, Sendvalu, Boss Revolution, Aza Finance and Supersonicz.
In a statement seen by Bendada.com, Sandra Thompson, the secretary of Ghana’s Central Bank asked all financial institutions in the country to desist from operating with the aforementioned companies.
“Approved MTOs are hereby reminded to terminate their foreign exchange flows through their partner institutions only and to adhere strictly to all guidelines in respect of their operations,” Thompson said.
Additionally, according to section 15.3 of the Act, any transfer of forex to or from Ghana must be conducted through a licensed entity authorised to engage in money transfers or any other approved dealer.
More on LemFi: Earlier this year following LemFi's rebrand, the state-owned media, Ghana News Agency in a report stated that the company has contributed to the growth of the country's fintech sector. On LemFi's official website, Ghana is included among the 10 African countries to which its users from the US, UK, and Canada can send money
In 2020, tech entrepreneurs, Ridwan Olalere and Rian Cochran, launched LemFi in Canada to solve the challenges for the African remittance corridor. Recently when it announced its $33 million Series A, Cochran said “We want to pursue more licenses to drive expansion and also build up the products.”
Two years ago, Lemfi acquired UK-based Rightcard Payment Services enabling the fintech to obtain an Electronic Money Institution licence from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority. “The acquisition was purely for the license,” Cochran told Bendada.com.
LemFi also has operating licenses in the US and Canada. In July this year, Rightcard obtained an International Money Transfer Operator licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“LemFi has been very deliberate and strategic in acquiring licenses and building a robust network of financial institution partners to facilitate cross-border payments for immigrants,” Matthew Miller, Principal at Left Lane Capital, who recently joined LemFi’s Board of Directors as part of the transaction, claims.
The fintech is yet to comment on the statement from the Bank of Ghana.
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#2. NUTM is on its path to becoming the “MIT of Africa”
The news: The Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM) has been authorised by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to offer full degree programmes in its computing department, which include BSc. computer science, and BSc. cyber security and information technology.
Know more: This comes six months after NUTM was issued an operating licence by the NUC. “We are on the way to being the MIT of Africa,” says Nubi Achebo, academic director at the tech-focused varsity. “We have partnered with Oxford University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Indian Institute of Technology, and other best-in-class institutions, which allows us to run joint programmes and exchange students and faculties.”
Founded in 2019, NUTM is “...poised to become the premier STEM institution in Nigeria that will prepare young people to become change agents in Nigeria and beyond,” according to Okechukwu Enelamah, NUTM governing board chair.
Before its NUC licence, the university operated the NUTM Scholars Program (NSP), a one-year interdisciplinary postgraduate program with a focus on technology, entrepreneurship and design. NSP is led by Omobola Johnson, senior partner at TLcom Capital, and former Nigerian ICT minister.
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Open AI names Twitch co-founder, Emmett Shear as its new CEO
How it started: Over the weekend, OpenAI experienced a significant leadership shakeup, cycling through three CEOs. On Friday, Sam Altman was dismissed by the company's board, citing a “[lack of] confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” In response, the board swiftly appointed Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, as the interim CEO.
The news of Altman’s departure sent shockwaves through the global tech community, triggering media speculation about negotiations aiming to bring him back, fueled by the perceived risk of mass staff resignations.
Adding to the intrigue, Altman shared a picture on X from OpenAI’s office yesterday, featuring a guest page. The caption, “First and last time I ever wear one of these,” suggested the possibility of his reinstatement as CEO or the implication that he might not step foot in the office again.
The new CEO: In a turn of events, Twitch co-founder, Emmett Shear has been appointed as the new CEO of Open AI. The four-man board at the company claims removing Altman is the “only path” to achieving the company’s mission of “broadly beneficial” artificial general intelligence.
How it is going: Microsoft, which has invested billions in OpenAI, says it will continue its partnership with the non-profit. “We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI's new leadership team and working with them,” says Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
According to Nadella, former Open AI CEO, Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman “will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team”.
Brockman resigned on Friday shortly after the board removed Altman as CEO.
💰 State of Funding in Africa
South African insurtech startup, Pineapple raised a $21.3 million Series B. It is arguably the all-time largest funding round in South Africa's insurtech market.
Pineapple takes the record from Naked, another insurtech startup in the country that raised $17 million in Series B in February this year. “This funding round stands as a testament to our tech and AI-powered operating model, enabling our mission to offer affordable and comprehensive insurance to all South Africans,” said Marnus van Heerden, Pineapple co-founder and CEO.
Aside from Pineapple, we tracked three other African startups that raised last week, here is a summary:
- South African proptech startup, Neighbourgood has acquired Local Knowledge, a Cape Town-based traveltech startup in a cash and equity deal worth $1.5 million.
- Techstars-backed Chimoney has acquired Scrim App in an undisclosed deal.
A roundup of some of the important stories about the African tech ecosystem:
- Patricia to repay users in Naira: Nigerian-focused crypto exchange, Patricia has announced that it is commencing the first batch of repayment today and users will be paid in Naira.
- More USSD debts for Nigerian banks: From May 2023 until now, the USSD debt of Nigerian banks has surged by 66.67%, reaching a total of ₦200 billion, according to the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria.
- WiCrypt expands to China: Enugu-based blockchain startup, Wicrypt has expanded its WiFi-sharing network to China, naming Onega Ventures as the sole distributor.
- Doubling down on the stack in Africa: Nigerian fintech startup, Paystack is downsizing its team outside Africa, starting with the layoff of 33 employees in Europe and the UAE—where it has an engineering hub—as part of efforts to localise cost.
- Zazuu shuts down: One year after raising $2 million, U.K.-based and Africa-focused fintech startup, Zazuu has shuttered due to its inability to raise additional funding. Sources told Bendada.com that the startup conducted layoffs earlier in the year.
We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.
Product & Design
- Kuda — Product Designer, Lagos
- PressOne Africa — Product Manager, Lagos
- Lendsqr — Product Manager, Remote
Data & Engineering
- Indicina — Data Security & Compliance Officer, Remote
- Moniepoint — Growth Data Analyst, Lagos
- TEF — Data Analyst, Lagos
Admin & Growth
- Pula — Executive Assistant, Kenya
- Luminate — Africa Director, Kenya
- Vendease — Content Marketer, Nigeria
What did you learn from today's edition? Share a screenshot and tag us.
Have a great week ahead!