The Financial Service sector has rapidly evolved in the last decade; with several viable startups springing up with innovations, most people never thought was possible. One of the notable startups, currently redefining the FinTech industry is PiggyVest.
PiggyVest is the first online ‘savings and investment’ app in West Africa, with one mission to give everyone the power to better manage and grow their own finance.
For a company started by six young graduates, their success story is truly inspirational
Today, Nairametrics profiles one of the brains behind this ethical startup company – Odunayo Eweniyi
Born in Oyo state, the 27-year-old Odunayo spent her early years invested in reading books. She excelled with ease in all subjects at her primary and secondary schools. A feat not surprising, as she is daughter to two professor parents.
Odunayo recalls that even though she wished to study Medicine and Surgery, she did not consider herself empathetic enough to thrive in the profession. She went on to study Computer Engineering at the prestigious Covenant University, graduating top of her class in 2013.
Finding her Co-Founders
As an undergraduate, Odunayo had already taken an interest in Coding and Artificial Intelligence and expected to take further studies in it. However, this did not happen immediately, as she started with job-hunting after graduation.
“The first thing that happened to me was that I went for a job interview, and I was asked to quote a salary and I did. When the offer would come back, the salary they offered was 80% lower than what I expected, so I rejected it,” she recalled.
Subsequently, she teamed up with a couple of friends from her university days, and they came up with the idea of PushCV. Recounting the decision to team up with them, Odunayo says,
“We all were amazing engineers in school, Somto once built a miniature airplane, so I was pretty confident that a joint venture with them would produce amazing results.”
The other team members were already working on a discount card startup called Parolz, and she joined them to work on this for some months, while simultaneously still jobhunting with Oluwafemi, and Somto was working on something called CV Flash, to help people who couldn’t write CVs properly or did so with terrible English.
Odunayo became a Co-founder at CVFlash, helping to write the CVs for clients. She was also writing for TechCabal, Zikoko, and later worked as Editor of TechPoint Africa. All of the income from these jobs kept her going, and was also being channeled into getting the startup off the ground.
Soon enough, PushCV came to the forefront of their interests, when clients started requesting that they help them ‘push’ their CVs to employers. The friends decided to collapse Parolz, and concentrate their energies on the startup raving with the most attention from users.
To differentiate PushCV from others, they started pre-screening candidates, so that only the best candidates would be sent to employers. Their activities attracted attention, and by August 2014, they got their first investment from Olumide Soyombo’s Leadpath Nigeria – an office space in Yaba, and a cheque for $25,000.
How Piggybank was conceived
By the end of December 2015, the team came across a tweet from a lady, about how she had saved N365,000 by putting N1000 in a wooden piggy bank daily. They decided then, that finding a way to digitize the concept would help salary earners save towards their financial goals.
They launched Piggybank.ng on the 7th of January 2016, as a ‘savings-only’ platform, and the fully tested version was ready for public use by April 2016. Gradually, the brand grew by user-recommendations and testimonials. These free adverts were a testament to the team, that they were helping with a real need in our society.
Three years later, in April 2019, they rebranded to PiggyVest, and started offering direct investment opportunities to users, allowing them to combine ‘discipline plus flexibility to grow their savings and investments.’
Users can now use the Quarterly savings options, save towards financial targets, or lock funds away. They can also take advantage of investment opportunities on the platform. The company currently serves 350,000 users, helping them save and invest “a combine billions of Naira every month, that they would probably be tempted to badly spend.”
Not a roller-coaster experience
About her several experiences as co-founder, Odunayo said;
“The journey was full of self-doubt, and it took a toll on my self-esteem. The first thing I learnt was that I had to be adaptable, people don’t give you money then use your own. For the first two years of running the company, I had to work a side job, with the entire proceeds invested into running the start-up.”
The team was made up of six-persons at start-up, although only three people are listed as Co-Founders – Odunayo Eweniyi, Joshua Chibueze, and Somto Ifezue. Each person on the team had their specialty and strength, so it was easy to assign responsibilities. There was no accountant in the team, so they managed their finances themselves, noting that there were months, when they could not even pay themselves.
Further education, honours, and recognitions
Odunayo got certified in Full Stack Web Development (Computer Software Engineering) in 2018, as well as an online certification from the Harvard Business School. Odunayo is also CISCO certified. The Oyo-born tech founder says that she has intentions of furthering her education. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is currently undergoing a Master degree in Finance (banking) at the SOAS University of London
“I draw inspiration from my family. They believe in me so much, that it is hard for me not to believe in myself.” she said in an interview.
In 2019, Odunayo Eweniyi was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 – Technology, and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators. In the same year, she was named SME Entrepreneur of the Year– West Africa, by The Asian Banker’s Wealth and Society, and is listed on Forbes Africa list of 20 New Wealth Creators in Africa 2019.
She sits on boards like the Advisory board of TrainFuture in Switzerland, the Gender Lens Acceleration Best Practices Initiative – a collaborative effort of Village Capital US, and the International Finance Corporation’s, Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (IFC-WeFi).
Meet Adebayo Ogunlesi, Nigeria’s investment banker shaking up Wall Street
Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a “billionaire” in his own right.
Some refer to him as a “silent billionaire”, and this is not a wrong statement about the man who has stakes in a number of airports around the world, including Gatwick Airport, the second-busiest airport by total passenger traffic in the UK and the ninth-busiest in Europe.
Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian who started out as a lawyer and later an investment banker, has spread his wings around the globe and is now currently the Chairman and Managing Partner at the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a billionaire in his own right.
Adebayo hails from Makun, Sagamu, Ogun State, and was born on the 20th of December 1953 to the family of Dr Theophilus O. Ogunlesi, who later became Nigeria’s first Professor of Medicine in Ibadan.
He had his primary education there in Sagamu and then attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos before travelling to England where he bagged a B.A. with first-class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.
He went on to pursue two degrees concurrently at Harvard, and in 1979, received a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
He worked as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court from 1980 to 1981, and as an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore – a law firm in New York City till 1983.
Armed with his MBA, Adebayo made the switch to investment banking when he joined First Boston Investment Bank as an advisor on a Nigerian gas project in 1983. He also worked with the Project Finance Group, as a financial advisor to several clients on the transactions of North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Other places Adebayo worked include the Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) (earlier known as Global Energy Group) where he advised clients on strategic transactions and financing for some years, before becoming the Global Head of CSFB’s Investment Banking Division. He was appointed member of the Credit Suisse Executive Board and Management Committee in 2002, and became the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of CSFB between 2004 and 2006.
While at the CSFB, he was also lecturing at Harvard Law School and Yale School of Management.
He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs in October 2012 and became Lead Director on the 24th of July, 2014.
Ogunlesi, the investor
In July 2006, he founded a private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in New York City, with CSFB and General Electric as the first investors; and assumed the role of Chairman and Managing Partner. In the same year, GIP bought London City Airport an international airport located in the Royal Docks in the London Borough of Newham in the City of London. GIP later sold off the airport after a decade.
Three years later in 2009, GIP invested £1.455 billion to acquire the majority share in London Gatwick Airport, a major international airport near Crawley, Sussex, England. Another three years after in 2012, GIP bought Edinburgh Airport, said to be the busiest airport in Scotland in 2019, handling over 14.7 million passengers.
GIP also bought Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori in February 2018.
Some other GIP Investments In the Transport Sector include Terminal Investment Limited, Port of Melbourne; Pacific National; Italo; Access Midstream Partners; Biffa Group Limited; Port of Brisbane; Great Yarmouth Port Company.
GIP also had stakes in infrastructure assets around the world, with selected equity and debt investments in several sectors. The company manages a portfolio of combined annual revenue greater than $46 billion, and investments of over $51 billion for its investors.
The company is an infrastructure investment fund that makes both equity and selected debt investments. It has investments in high-quality infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, water and waste sectors.
In the energy sector, Gip has investments in Guacolda Energia, Freeport LNG, CPV, Saeta Yield/Bow Power, Hess Infrastructure Partners, Vena Energy, Naturgy Energy Group and several others.
Ogunlesi is now a Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors at the Harvard Business School; Member, Leadership Council of New York at Harvard Law School; and Member, Global Advisory Council at Harvard University.
He is also a Member, Board of Directors of the Partnership for New York City Fund; National Board of Directors NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Board of Trustees NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; and the King’s College Old Boys Association.
He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He taught a course on transnational investment projects in emerging countries, as a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School of Management, while also working at Credit Suisse First Boston.
In October 2012, Ogunlesi was appointed to the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs and became Lead Director in 2014. There is no confirmed source of his net worth, but Wallmine estimates that Ogunlesi is worth at least $22.5 million dollars and owns at least 66,677 units of Goldman Sachs stock as of 7 May 2020.
In December 2016, Ogunlesi was named among business leaders that would be part of Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the forum was disbanded 8 months later.
Ogunlesi was given The Award of Excellence by The International Center in New York, and in 2019 was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine. He is still actively engaged in several volunteer works across Africa.
Atsu Davoh is building ways for Africans to easily acquire and spend cryptocurrency
Atsu Davoh has gone from failed projects to running one of Ghana’s most innovative startups.
In recent times, the tech space in Africa has experienced immense growth, with the introduction of several key players and disruptors across various sectors. One sector that is also rising is the cryptocurrency space with Africa experiencing greater crypto ownership and trade volume.
The number of Bitcoins processed on a single day reached its highest value at the beginning of 2021, as more people displayed interest in the cryptocurrency. Due to its fast adoption, more fintech players have created platforms that have made trading with cryptocurrency easier. One of such players is Atsu Davoh who calls himself the “product guy.”
Atsu Davoh dropped out of college (Carleton College) in the United States and moved back to Ghana to help innovate on Africa’s financial infrastructure. Atsu first discovered Bitcoin in 2017 during the first boom when it became mainstream. Before then, he and his co-founder Samuel Baohen had been involved in many failed projects.
He developed a USSD system where people could buy bitcoin through their phone numbers, like tying crypto to phone numbers in a native way. This was one of the first iterations of Bitsika.
Atsu was invited to Join Binance Labs Incubator by Yele Bademosi where he got $150,000 after graduating from the incubator. Bitsika went on to raise around $900,000 from investors. This brought the total seed raised to $1,050,000.
This USSD system worked in Ghana but didn’t work in Nigeria. Atsu and his team then pivoted the platform to a donation crowdfunding platform, which allowed people living in other countries to send donations to African nationals in need of the funds before finally building it into a cross-border crypto remittance platform.
Bitsika users can deposit and remit money across multiple currencies using the app, with all monies deposited in Bitsika stored in USD credits or stable-coin.
Bitsika has over 50,000+ downloads on Playstore and processed nearly $40 million in 2020 with $18,872,474 in deposits, $17,890,807 in payouts (withdrawals), and $3,189,834 in internal peer-to-peer transfers.
Despite a few unfavourable regulations surrounding cryptocurrency in Africa, the market has shown no signs of slowing down as more people are building products that will make trading seamless.
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