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Zone (formerly Appzone) selected as Nigerian entrepreneurs to join Endeavor’s global network

Endeavor, the global entrepreneurship network, has selected Obi Emetarom, Emeka Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi, the founders of Zone (formerly Appzone), as Endeavor entrepreneurs.

Zone (formerly Appzone) selected as Nigerian entrepreneurs to join Endeavor’s global network
L-R - Emeka Emetarom, Wale Onawunmi, and Obi Emetarom - Zone Founders

Endeavor concluded the 37th Virtual International Selection Panel (ISP) held May 22-24, 2023, with the selection of 11 new high-impact entrepreneurs representing six companies from five markets, including Nigeria’s Zone founders, Obi Emetarom, Emeka Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi.

Endeavor is the world’s leading community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 1997, the global organization is driven with a mission to unlock the transformational power of entrepreneurship by selecting, supporting, and investing in the world’s top founders.

Endeavor launched its Nigeria office in 2018 to select and support the best founders of companies at the scale-up and growth stage who recognise a responsibility to pay it forward and multiply their impact in Nigeria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

​​Zone (formerly Appzone) is a regulated blockchain network that enables payments (by connecting banks and fintechs) and acceptance of digital currencies. Zone became Africa’s first regulated blockchain-powered payment network after securing a switching and processing license from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Zone’s blockchain-powered payment infrastructure allows participating institutions to connect directly with each other and perform payment transactions without an intermediary while completely automating settlement, reconciliation, and dispute management.

In a strategic move in November 2022, the company, spun off its legacy Banking as a Service business, birthing a new entity called Qore while it evolved its focus to become a pure-play Payment Infrastructure company with a new brand name, Zone.

Qore is Appzone’s legacy banking-as-a-service platform that enables financial institutions across Africa to achieve digitization and service automation. Today, it is deployed by 600+ financial institutions across 7 African countries. Emeka Emetarom leads Qore as CEO, while Obi Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi lead Zone as CEO and CTO, respectively.

Commenting on their selection into the global network, Obi Emetarom, Co-founder and CEO at Zone, said, “Joining the Endeavor network underscores our unwavering commitment to reshaping Africa’s payments landscape. The network’s pledge to support entrepreneurs resonated with us from our first encounter. As we continually strive to deliver reliable, frictionless and universally interoperable payments to Financial Services Providers in Africa and beyond, Endeavor’s platform will significantly fuel our growth and extend our reach.“

Wale Onawunmi, Co-founder and CTO at Zone, adds: “We’re thrilled to be part of this prestigious global community. Entrepreneurship thrives on collaboration and shared learning, and Endeavor embodies this spirit. We look forward to leveraging this unique ecosystem of entrepreneurs, partners, and investors, driving our technical prowess to further levels of innovation and efficiency in the payment sector."

Emeka Emetarom, CEO at Qore, comments “It’s an honour to join the Endeavor network. A community like Endeavor is a significant boost on the journey to creating groundbreaking financial solutions. We’re confident that the global insights, mentorship, and support from Endeavor will tremendously enrich Qore. As we shape our company into a global leader in Banking as a Service, we equally look forward to contributing significantly to this vibrant community."

The ISP is the final phase of a multi-step rigorous selection process, where candidates pitch their companies to top international business leaders and investors from the Endeavor network, making those obtaining a unanimous vote officially Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

Once selected into the network by a team of global panelists, entrepreneurs gain access to a wide array of services, enabling them to scale their businesses faster and multiply their impact.

Endeavor Board Member Yemi Lalude added, “We are delighted that Obi, Emeka, and Wale have been selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs. It is well-deserved recognition for all they have accomplished so far – and all that is to come.”

“We are thrilled to have Zone join the Endeavor network! We’re excited to support Obi, Wale, and Emeka to scale Zone’s financial services infrastructure across the African continent, and help them supercharge the already buzzing Nigerian tech ecosystem,” said Linda Rottenberg, Endeavor co-founder and CEO.

Related post: Flutterwave becomes Endeavor's first investee in Nigeria with $35 million series B round

“Zone is on its way to becoming the de facto for empowering, digitizing, and automating financial services in Africa,” added Endeavor Nigeria’s Managing Director, Ireayomide Oladunjoye. “We’re thrilled to have Obi Emetarom, Emeka Emetarom, and Wale Onawunmi join the Endeavor Global network and lead Zone and their products into the next phase of high-impact growth.”

As part of Endeavor’s network, the newly selected entrepreneurs will gain access to comprehensive, strategic, global support services, including introductions to local and international business mentors, investors, and volunteers from Fortune 500 consulting firms who will help them address key needs.

Endeavor Entrepreneurs have had a significant track record of impact. Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created over 4.1 million jobs, generated combined revenues of over $42+B, and helped build sustainable growth models in their home countries.

In Nigeria, there are 31 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 15 companies in their portfolio. Zone is the 19th company selected into the global Endeavor network through the regional affiliated office in Nigeria.

All three entrepreneurs represent the growing expectation for exceptional entrepreneurs with big ambitions and the ability to execute at scale. They join Ngozi Dozie & Chijioke Dozie (Carbon), Etop Ikpe (Autochek), Gbenga Agboola & Ife Orioke (Flutterwave), Tayo Oviosu & Jay Alabraba (Paga), Ekechi Nwokah (Migo), Jasper Graf von Hardenberg & Christian Wessels (Daystar Power), Obi Ozor (Kobo), Kene Okwuosa & Moses Babatope(FilmHouse Group), Onyekachi Izukanne, Michael Ukpong & Ruke Awaritefe (TradeDepot), Tosin Eniolorunda & Felix Ike (Moniepoint), Adegoke Olubusi and Dimeji Sofowora (Helium Health), and Adetayo Bamiduro & Chinedu Azodoh (Metro Africa Xpress), Michael Moreland, Justin Lorenzon, & Peter Bunor (Field Intelligence), and Somto Ifezue, Odunayo Eweniyi, and Joshua Chibueze (PiggyVest).

Today, Endeavor’s network spans 42 markets and supports 2,438 entrepreneurs leading 1,506 companies that generate combined revenues of over $42+ billion US and have created more than 4.1 million jobs. Endeavor’s unique entrepreneur-first model and network of trust provide a platform for founders to dream bigger, scale faster, and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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