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LSETF, Visa drive cash-less scheme, offers N3.5m in grants

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Akintunde Oyebode of  the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) 

 

 

In efforts to drive cash-less project and boost ease of doing business for Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in partnership with Visa, has created payment solutions, during the “Cash-less Lagos Hackathon.”

The solutions came after a three-day hacking boot, hosted at the Vibranium Valley, where young tech experts were selected and expected to leverage on existing financial technologies to assist MSMEs regardless of their literacy level, to adopt the initiative.

The Cash-less Lagos Hackathon, according to the organisers, was to improve business efficiency, boost financial inclusion, and reduce theft to the barest minimum, by proffering solutions that make payment easy.

The hackathon also hosted an array of Nigerian software developers, programmers, coders, data specialists and designers, who developed technology-based financial solutions to allow MSMEs make and receive payments, make bulk purchases and keep transaction inventory.

The winners of the Hackathon- Team Blended, Maverick and LagosPay, were selected based on impact, design, innovation, user-interface and customer validation and got the grand prize of N2,000,000, N1,000,000 and N500,000 respectively.

The Executive Secretary, LSETF, Akintunde Oyebode, said Hackathon was designed to solve problems around cash management in Lagos, adding that it was aimed at how to use technology to improve small businesses.

“I am pleased with the winning teams and the possibility of using these solutions to solve payment issues experienced by small businesses. If we are able to help businesses optimise payments and grow, it will not only improve the state’s economy, but also create new jobs.

“This hackathon further demonstrates how partnerships between government and socially responsible companies can spur development and create double or triple bottom line impact.”

The General Manager, Visa West Africa, Kemi Okusanya, expressed Visa’s deep commitment in ensuring that merchants have access to innovative technologies to make and receive payments.

She added that the company is keen on facilitating financial inclusion goals in Nigeria, thereby reducing reliance on cash.

She said: “We constantly strive to reduce reliance on cash, and encourage the development of a digital payments ecosystem for both individuals and businesses. I am very impressed with the quality of solutions developed by these teams and look forward to seeing them adopted by businesses across Nigeria.”

Leader for Team Blended, Olawale Olarenwaju said the solution to going cashless is by having a mobile Point of Sales (POS). “Our solution is a handy PoS in a mobile device such that once you input your card details it works like the normal PoS. Our integration will be powered by Visa because it is big card switching companies that allow us authenticate other cards through Visa,” he said.

Olarenwaju added that cards transaction still has huge amount of success if we push the boundaries further.
“The solution works with an OTP authentication for security purpose.

If the user’s phone number is not registered, it cannot get an OTP to validate the transaction. We believe that we will be able to get into the market and enable MSME to make seamless payment,” he noted.

Team Blended won with its solution that allows merchants get validation of transactions via USSD with mobile phone numbers as User pass and authentication; Team Maverick took the second position with a mobile-based solution that allows merchant pay in advance for services, schedule appointments, while also helping them keep track of their payment inventories, while the third prizewinner, LagosPay developed a solution that collects payments electronically, by leveraging already existing payment channels, and incentivizing payments with rewards and points.
He added that the competing teams were able to identify pressing needs and created solutions relating to receiving payment and going cashless.

“The prices they won will be used to build the actual solution. What you see here is the prototype solution and we hope to take it to the market in the next six months. We also have banks interested in how they support the roll out of the solution for their customers bringing the ecosystem together,” he said.

Speaking on the partnership with Visa, Oyebode said it is ETF core value to attract trusted partners to deliver right solutions for SMES, and added that the hackathon will be a continuous program.

“This is the second program we launched this year. We look forward to doing more and partner with relevant institutions. We are funding tech startups and issued work space stations to 50 startups already and to 25 more before the end of this month. In total, we are talking about 80 million in work space vouchers. A funding allowance of 200 million naira is available and this is the first set of funding going to the tech ecosystem,” he added.

(GuardianNG)

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Investment

Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa

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Image Source: rupixen.com

It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.

He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.

“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.

The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa

President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.

“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.

He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.

Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora

As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”

Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)

According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.

A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).

When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.

The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa

So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.

We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.

Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.

The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.

Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.

When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.

As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.

Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital

 

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Press Release

North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion

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North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)

North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.

The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.

The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.

“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.

The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.

“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”

Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.

 

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Press Release

Legacy Premier Foundation Congratulates New World Trade Organisation (WTO) Head Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala © AFP via Getty Images

The entire team at Legacy Premier Foundation hereby congratulates Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the new chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

With a proud heart and jubilation, we salute our quintessential woman of many feats on this global call to service.

This is a perfect example of a narrative that says “when opportunity meets preparedness success is inevitable”. Madam Director, you are an epitome of this simple quote. Over the years, you’ve carefully built a track record of competence with your records very visible in the public domain.

We are very pleased to send our warmest congratulations on your appointment as the seventh (7th) Director General of the foremost World Trade Organization, also making history as the first African and female to hold this prestigious position.

At this time where the world is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, with a gradual return to normalcy, there are still some undulating terrains in the global trade landscape. We believe with you at the helm of affairs coupled with 25 years of diplomatic dealings and demonstrated leadership as a World Bank executive, you will saddle the affairs of the WTO and the entire global trade economy through these sensitive times.

We wish you much success in your new post and we look forward to the pleasure of working with you, in the place of making our African continent prominent in the scheme of world trades, and much more rejuvenation of hope that an African has all it takes to get to the zenith of his or her career without any equivocation.

We wish you a resounding success with legendary actions for global impact.

Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Former VP, Bank of America and Founder, Legacy Premier Foundation

Visit: Legacy Premier Foundation

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