Throughout the formative years, African children are exposed to western media content which for the most part promotes the western culture and way of life, at the expense of Africa’s history. After going through the childhood years of watching western movies that talks about things like Greek history and mythology, Nissi Ogulu decided to make a business from telling Africa’s story the animated way with Creele Animation Studios.
Speaking during the Nairametrics Business Half Hour, Founder and managing director of animations at Creele studios, Nissi Ogulu explained that Creele Animations came in a perfect way to combine all of her interests into a single business. “From a personal angle, I have always been very in tune with arts from being a child loving animated content and drawing comics and also being immersed with playing instruments and singing. I have my educational background in mechanical engineering, and I have always had the plans to merge the things that I know how to do in creating a business,” she said.
The dearth of wholly African animated content also meant that there was a huge market waiting for their content, thus making it a worthwhile business venture. Many African children born in the diaspora also hunger for some sort of story and content to give them insight into their history.
With this inspiration, Nissi Ogulu started Creele Animation Studios in 2017, to create content from motion pictures and sounds of the best quality, to represent authentic African history and stories, while appealing to the global audience.
Right after, Creele embarked on its first collaborative project, The Satchel, which is now set for release. The Satchel is a 3D animated movie adapted from the Yoruba historical myths of the earth’s creation, particularly the fierce battle between the children of Olodumare (the supreme ruler), Obatala and Oduduwa as they struggle for the all-powerful Satchel to create a new kingdom.
Early reviews of the work show that it presents a wholesome representation of the African deities and myths, as against the vague picture which the millennial generation has had through the years.
The business of animation creation, like most other start-ups, requires funds. For Creele Animation studios, the initial funding came from the Founder’s savings, and later from providing direct animations and games services to clients. The collaborative project was funded by all partners on the project, with some angel investors coming in along the way.
Ogulu explains that there are other intending investors and partners for future projects, however, Creele Animation studios will be careful of potential partnerships it enters into for distribution and production.
“While we are open to partnerships that will take us outside of Africa, we are wary of falling into partnerships that will take us away from producing core African content which is reminiscent of our culture. There is an appeal for more black/African based stories given the lack of it so far, and we see people leaning towards more African based stories like Black Panther and the Lion King, and this is the vacuum we want to focus on,” she said.
Creele Animations is also exploring several revenue streams within the industry in streaming, merchandising, sales, IPs and other direct services while focusing on the expansion of the brand in the coming years.
Although animation content was initially targeted at children, one finds that in recent times, there is a global appeal across all age groups and social strata. Starting from childhood, people start assimilating these contents and as they grow older it influences the way they view lives and they view themselves.
Creele animations will use its productions to balance out the ubiquity of western content, helping Africans to know about their mythology and history, and reforming the minds of children and adults through this medium.
“Animation is the form of media that cannot be limited. It can go as far as the imagination can go so we are not limited to any time frame. We can tell stories from the past and the future, and create all kinds of experiences. I believe it will be very important in the education system; in teaching us more about our history and in opening the world of arts and technology in our schools as we go along and the industry begins to develop more,” Ogulu said.
Created by Taeps Animation Studios and Creele Animation Studios, “The Satchel” was directed by Nissi Ogulu and written by Jimi Oremule while Adeoyin Okuboyejo and Ayobami Bello joined the crew of producers. As The Satchel takes the first position in what is expected to become a long list of core African productions, the continent can now look forward to an animated retelling of the African story by Africans.
A CredPal credit card can get you anything – CEO, Fehintolu Olaogun
Fehintolu Olaogun, CredPal Co-Founder recounts his journey through founding one of Nigeria’s most innovative startups.
Those moments when you have to return items from your shopping cart due to insufficient cash may now be over for Nigerians, thanks to CredPal’s credit cards.
CredPal goes a step further from your regular financial services institution which offers you a loan when you request, and now gives customers a credit card with which they can shop for their needs and pay in instalments.
CredPal makes use of Visa cards which serves users at POS channels and ATM points, making it a convenient way to access consumer credit. You can think of it as similar to the credit card services offered by companies like American Express across Europe.
Speaking during the Nairametrics Business Half Hour show on Classic FM, CEO and co-founder of Credpal, Fehintolu Olaogun explained that CredPal was birthed due to an observed need for such facilities in the Nigerian space.
“I remember moving into my house at first, and I had to wait for almost four months to get my gadgets because I did not have the bulk sum at the time. This is a situation many Nigerians experience, and they have to put off getting such item no matter how pressing the need may be,” he narrated.
Before starting CredPal, Olorunfemi Jegede was running an e-commerce platform and noticed that customers were often on the lookout for ‘Buy now, pay later’ options. With this observation, the duo decided to work on a checkout payment gateway that would allow the customers to pay later and in instalments.
“Our drive was simply to allow people access credit to buy items and then pay later, and there was a wide acceptance among the customers. So we threw in some more money behind it, reached out to some merchants and money lenders and extended the service to allow people pay their bills. With our credit cards, you can pretty much do anything and you only pay for what you use,” Olaogun explained.
To move things to the next level, there was a need to go beyond bootstrapping and bring in some collaborators and partners. The finance needed for scaling came in a mix of equity, seed funding, and hedge financing from lenders and people who wished to put money. Since both founders had pedigree founding and running a startup, it was easy to get their foot into the door and talk with investors. Another thing they had going for them was an established market need, a working product and huge demand.
Shortly after starting operations, CredPal won $25k and the “Merchant Payments” Challenge for allowing individuals and businesses to pay for purchases in instalments across online and offline merchants, and gained recognition at the Visa Everywhere Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa.
In March 2019, CredPal was accepted into the Y Combinator Winter batch alongside other African startups like Wallets Africa, Schoolable, and 54gene; and they received $150,000.
In 2020, CredPal raised $1.5 million in a funding round which included US seed-stage accelerator, Y Combinator; Lagos-based fintech investment holding company, GreenHouse Capital; Tangerine Life, a digital insurance company; and other VC firms.
Also in 2020, CredPal was selected and participated in the fifth edition of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa – a 3-month-long programme for the startups which gave them access to mentorship, funding, and PR support, among other incentives.
Market entry and operations
Olaogun recounts that the first step to entering the market was going through the merchants. Most of these merchants encounter retailers and other customers who would wish to purchase more items but are constrained by available funds. It was therefore easier for the merchant to suggest a credit alternative for the customer, who already had a need for such service.
Another tactic that CredPal deployed was the affiliate marketing method where people sign up for free as affiliate marketers, promote the product, and are remunerated monthly based on the number of customers they get for the startup. To adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines, a part of the team works from home while a few work from their operational office in Lagos.
With the low-interest rates, customers can get these credit services for as low as 2.5% interest rate using either the mobile app, or the credit card. Merchants also embrace the service quickly as it allowed them to get the value for their goods almost immediately, and save them the trouble of having to go after debtors.
Getting back the money
The challenge for individuals and institutions in the credit space is often about how to get the repayment done seamlessly, and without having to run after the debtors.
In this light, sentiments across board favour the growth of the credit business as the apex bank has been on the drive to increase lending in the country. The GSI policy which was introduced late last year was targeted at encouraging this move, by authorising the banks to deduct from customers’ accounts directly.
CredPal also partnered with and integrated Pngme’s data SDK and API to acquire user-permissions, mobile-based financial data (such as connected institutions, balances, transactions), to provide a secure and detailed data foundation to manage its subscription base.
This is in line with the vision of becoming the American Express of Africa, a continent that is still largely untapped.
Nigerians can now easily get a credit card | Fehintolu Olaogun | CEO Credpal | BHH
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