The front line of Nigeria’s fight against Coronavirus seems to be occupied only by the banking industry and billionaire’s club in Nigeria, but when you look closer, there are others, including Nigerian tech startups, also taking up arms in this battle, providing tech-driven effort amidst the pandemic.
The outbreak has led to a global lockdown, pending the time medical researchers find a vaccine for the Coronavirus. But while the world waits, corporate organisations have been making donations. In Nigeria, banks like UBA, Zenith, and Keystone have provided about N1 billion each to the State and Federal Governments.
But while some banks and corporate companies like GTBank, Access Bank and Dangote have joined forces with state governments, to build Isolation centres for confirmed cases, which have reached 343, tech startups have directed their efforts straight to the people.
Though their efforts seem to be going unnoticed, these tech startups are engaging investors and putting their innovations to use for the benefit of the infected and those stuck at home due to the lockdown, which has been extended to another 14 days.
Nairametrics has compiled a list of five digital startups leading the fight by technologically aiding the efforts against COVID-19.
Kuda: This is one of the digital banking startups that revolutionised the banking industry. It was co-founded by Babs Ogundeyi, who also acts as the Chief Executive Officer.
Kuda launched a COVID-19 fund to provide for the less privileged in Lagos. The tech startup, established in 2016, has taken it upon itself to purchase and distribute food, as well as other essentials, to the poor and vulnerable who have been the most affected amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kuda committed N1.5 million and partnered with non-governmental organisation, Lagos Food Bank, as a way of providing succour, and reducing the economic impact of the virus on the poor communities in Lagos.
The fund was created eight months after Kuda raised $1.6 million.
MDaaS: This is a tech startup that focuses on health-related issues. MDaaS has a history in medicine, public health and pharmaceuticals which makes the firm essential during the pandemic currently being experienced.
Founded by Oluwasoga Oni, MDaaS created a website to provide needed resources for the COVID-19 period. The startup is helping health organisations and African governments, starting from Nigeria, to create mass testing centres.
The mass testing centres include drive-through testing sites and booth testing sites. The “out-of-health facility” locations will help attend to high volume of patients for COVID-19 samples and send to a centralized laboratory for processing.
54Gene: This is another tech startup operating in the health space. It was founded by Abasi Ene-Obong to focus on human genetic data, but the outbreak of Coronavirus has compelled the startup to setup a COVID-19 testing support fund to assist the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
54Gene created the fund to raise $500,000 and has already secured a donation of $130,000 from Union Bank to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. The fund is expected to be used to procure testing instruments and critical biosafety materials in order to increase COVID-19 testing capacity by 1,000 a day within Nigeria.
The equipment will be installed in laboratories and general hospitals across Nigeria and will remain there post-COVID-19 pandemic for future outbreaks. This is part of 54Gene’s effort amidst the fight against the Coronavirus.
Gradely: Co-founded by Boye Oshinaga, Gradely recently secured an undisclosed investment from Microtraction to extend its tech expertise to the education system, to help students and teachers currently stuck at home continue their education during the lockdown.
The Ed-tech startup is using its AI-driven educational tool to assist students further their education and not experience disruption to their learning. This is one of the reasons Gradely attracted the investment from Microtraction, which believes Gradely will be highly essential as schools begin to adopt home-schooling due to the lockdown.
Future Africa/Flutterwave: Flutterwave is a portfolio of Future Africa. Both are providing different kinds of support during this pandemic. For Future Africa, the investment firm created Future Africa Collective fund for investors to invest in tech startups amidst the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
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This is to encourage investors to see opportunities in the African market during the crisis. Future Africa had defended the initiative by offering Andela and Flutterwave as startups that became successful after being established amidst economic crisis.
Meanwhile, Flutterwave created a donation portal for Sharing Life Africa, an initiative created by Henry Anumudu, for their website visitors. The donation is tagged School Children & the Pandemic and intends to reach 10,000 public school children within the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
DEAL: Nigeria’s Cowrywise raises $3m pre-series A funding
Nigerian fintech startup, Cowrywise has raised $3m in pre-series A funding.
Nigerian fintech startup Cowrywise has raised $3m pre-series A funding.
This funding round was led by Washington DC-based Quona Capital, with participation from Sahil Lavingia, Tsadik Foundation, and a syndicate of local and diaspora based Nigerian angels.
Founded by Razaq Ahmed and Edward Popoola in 2017, Cowrywise gives Nigerian’s access to a range of goal-oriented savings and investment products.
The Quona led investment brings Cowrywise’s total funding amount to $3.3 million since its 2017 launch.
The company first introduced savings on its platform, followed by mutual funds and they currently have 19 different mutual funds and at least 20% of the total mutual funds in the country are listed on its platform.
According to Ahmed, while Nigerian’s millennials may have high digital connection levels, they lack access to high-quality savings and investment products. Which is what Cowrywise is offering.
The startup has more than 220,000 users currently. According to the Techcrunch, there are only half a million Nigerians actively investing in mutual funds. When compared to the total number of active bank accounts in the country of more than 40 million, it is obvious Cowrywise still has room to grow in the $3 billion markets.
This new funding will be used to increase its customer base and also expand its product offerings, support more fund managers in Nigeria, and build its investment management structure.
What you should know
- Cowrywise, an app that helps you easily plan, save, and invest online with the strongest interest rates and investment returns is the first Nigerian startup to be backed by Quona Capital.
- In June 2018, Cowrywise closed an Angel round of $50,000 led by Microtraction. In August 2018, it raised a $120,000 seed round from Y Combinator and another seed round from Kairos by December of the same year.
- It received undisclosed funding from K-50 Ventures in April 2019, before receiving an $80,000 grant from UK-DFID backed accelerator, Catalyst Fund. A first for a Nigerian startup.
- In February 2020, Quona Capital led the $14 million series A round for Kenyan eCommerce Startup, Sokowatch.
- The company has also significantly invested in South African startups like Lulalend, Yoco, ZOONA, and ALLLIFE.
Whatsapp to require biometric authentication for PC and web access
WhatsApp is adding a new biometric feature to confirm users’ identity when linking accounts to PC or the web.
WhatsApp is adding a new biometric feature to confirm your identity when you want to link your WhatsApp account to a PC or the web.
The social media app is rolling out this new feature for its web and desktop apps, which will let people create an additional authentication layer using biometrics when they want to use WhatsApp on desktop or web.
Users will now have the option (not a requirement) to add in a biometric login, which uses either a fingerprint, face ID, or iris ID — depending on the device — on Android or iPhone, to add in the second layer of authentication.
When implemented, it will appear for users before a desktop or web version can be linked up with a mobile app account.
WhatsApp told TechCrunch that it is going to be adding in more features this year to bring the functionality of the two closer together. There are still big gaps: for example, you can’t make calls on the WhatsApp web version.
To be clear, the biometric service, which is being turned on globally, will be opt-in: users will need to go to their settings to turn on the feature, in the same way, that today they need to go into their settings to turn on biometric authentication for their mobile apps.
WhatsApp has added that it will not be able to access the biometric information that you will store in your device and that it is using the same standard biometric authentication APIs that other secure apps, like banking apps, use.
This new feature will work alongside another, which sends your phone notifications whenever somebody logs into your account on the web or a computer.
What you should know
- The company has been getting a lot of backlashes since it announced it will now share its users’ personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, and more with Facebook from February 8, 2021.
Nigeria, now 2nd most corrupt country in West Africa – Transparency International
Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in W/Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the region.
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 report published by Transparency International indicates that Nigeria occupies the 149th position out of the 180 countries surveyed as well scored 25 out of 100 points.
With the current ranking, Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region.
It can be recalled that in the 2019 report, Nigeria was ranked 146th out of the 180 countries surveyed, scoring 26 points out of 100 points.
What you should know
- The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is an annual survey report published by Berlin-based Transparency International since 1995 which ranks countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
- The CPI scales zero (0) to 100, zero means “Highly Corrupt,” while 100 stands for “Very Clean”.
- Nigeria’s ranking on the corruption perception index has continued to drop in the last four years.
- With the current ranking, Nigeria is two steps worse off than she was in 2018 when she scored 27 points to place 144th out of 180 countries.
- Only 12 countries are perceived to be more corrupt than Nigeria in the whole of Africa. The countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Guinea Bissau, and South Sudan.
- Somalia and South Sudan remain the most corrupt nations on earth, according to the CPI 2020 ranking.
- Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Germany, Sweden Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands and Luxembourg are the least corrupt countries in the world.