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Ozow launches payment platform that enables financial and digital inclusion for all South Africans

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Ozow a digital payment company, today launched the Ozow Revolution. According to the company, the Ozow Revolution is a visionary effort to make digital payments available to everyone and create greater opportunity to participate in the digital economy- especially for historically excluded communities that rely on costly and unsecure cash payments.

Thomas Pays, CEO and co-founder of Ozow, says far too many consumers and businesses have been excluded from the benefits of the digital economy. “As an impact-driven and market-led company, Ozow is at the forefront of developing breakthrough payments products that enable greater financial and digital inclusion.

While more than 80% of South Africans hold a bank account, only one out of every eight have a credit card. This locks the vast majority of consumers out of digital payments and excludes them from a huge range of services. By simplifying payments for consumers and merchants alike and supporting them with helpful innovations such as zero-rated data costs, we can enable greater participation in the digital economy for all consumers and businesses.”

As the first step of its Ozow Revolution, the company has introduced two new online payments solutions to its platform for the South African market, Ozapp and Ozow PIN.

Ozapp is a progressive web application (PWA) that enables any customer with a bank account or eWallet to transact without a card through a QR-code enabled payment. Pays says it is designed to ease adoption by doing away with the need for a dedicated native application. 

“Despite smartphone penetration standing at more than 90%, many South Africans still rely on lower-cost models that lack the storage space needed for many mobile apps,” says Pays. “In a further effort at enabling greater digital inclusion, the data needed to use Ozapp is zero-rated, meaning consumers  have zero data cost to make use of the progressive web app and can make payments anytime at any Ozow-enabled point-of-sale or pretty much anywhere, including the comfort of their home.”

To further ease the customer experience and drive greater adoption, Pays also introduced Ozow PIN, which radically simplifies EFT payments through an easy four-step payment process that can be completed in seconds. The speed and convenience of Ozow PIN makes a compelling value proposition for more South Africans to engage in e-commerce at a time when physical retail is experiencing unprecedented disruption.

Also Read: Ava Airways CEO Olivier Arrindell On Envisioning An Airline Of The Future And Connecting Africa With The Caribbean

“With the launch of Ozow PIN, we are revolutionising the payment experience with a new patent-pending simplified payment innovation that delivers a seamless customer experience without compromising on safety,” says Pays. “And in keeping with our commitment to greater digital and financial inclusion, Ozow PIN will be developed into all eleven official languages by the end of the year.”

Pays says Ozow PIN is particularly beneficial to merchants and e-commerce sites with large numbers of returning customers that make regular purchases. “By reducing the time needed to make EFT payments and removing friction in the transaction process, Ozow PIN can help grow transaction volumes while attracting new customers. It’s a win-win for consumers and merchants.” 

In addition, individuals and sole proprietors can now make use of Ozow as a payment provider too free of charge for the first 12 months or up to R1-million free processing per month. Previously, Ozow’s payments innovations were only available to enterprise and SME merchants, but due to demand, the company has expanded its services to sole proprietors and individuals.

The Ozow Revolution is driven by a healthy pipeline of new payment products that will be launched over the coming months. “We’re only just getting started with developing new innovations that enable more South Africans to enjoy the benefits of digital payments. As a business, we will continue to find ways to drive digital inclusion until every person on the African continent can make or receive safe, convenient digital payments.”

Visit: Ozow

Press Release

Tokunboh Ishmael Joins Endeavor Board

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Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital (Photo: Endeavor Nigeria)

Endeavor Nigeria announced today the appointment of ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, to its board of directors.

Tokunboh Ishmael is an impact investor with over 20 years of experience spanning investment banking, private equity investing, technology, and business development in Africa, Europe, and North America. She is the Managing Director, and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, Nigeria-based investment management and advisory firm focused on channeling private equity investments into small and medium-sized businesses in West Africa.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mrs. Tokunboh Ishmael to the board of Endeavor in Nigeria,” said Tosin Faniro-Dada, Managing Director and CEO of Endeavor Nigeria. “Mrs. Ishmael is an inspiration to the digital ecosystem, and we’re certain she will add tremendous value as well as a unique perspective to the team with over 20 years of experience in Private Equity and Venture Capital in Africa; ESG and Impacting Investing; Gender Lens Investing; and Diversity and Inclusion.”

Ishamael joins Endeavor Nigeria’s board members, including Atedo Peterside CON (Board Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria and President & Founder, Anap Foundation), Bolaji Balogun (Board Vice-Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria, and CEO, Chapelhill Denham), Jaideep Gulab (CEO, Rosemonde), Halima Aliko Dangote (Group Executive Director, Dangote Industries Limited), Yemi Lalude (Managing Partner, TPG Growth), Andrew Alli (Group CEO & Partner, SouthBridge Group), Mitchell Elegbe (Founder & GMD, Interswitch Group), Faysal El-Khalil (Chairman, Seven-Up Bottling Company), Suresh Chellaram (Chairman, Chellarams Group), and Tosin Faniro-Dada (Managing Director & CEO, Endeavor Nigeria).

Endeavor Nigeria’s board of directors comprises top business leaders who actively support the organization’s efforts to advance the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and economy.

Commenting on the appointment, Atedo Peterside CON, Chairman of the Board, said, “We’re honored to welcome ‘Tokunboh Ishmael to the Board of Directors of Endeavor Nigeria. We are certain that she will bring tremendous value to the Endeavor network, drawing on very relevant practical experiences. It will also further enhance the strong role that Endeavor Nigeria has been playing in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria as a whole.

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I look forward to working closely with her on the board and strategy level.”

Speaking on the appointment, ‘Tokunbo Ishmael said, “I am pleased to join the board of Endeavor Nigeria, an institution that has played a key role in placing high-impact, transformative African entrepreneurs and businesses on the global map. I look forward to contributing my unique experience to the energetic and visionary leadership of the organization to unlock further growth and impact through Endeavor Nigeria’s robust initiatives and network.”

Endeavor is the world’s leading community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 1997, Endeavor is a global organization with a mission to unlock the transformational power of entrepreneurship by selecting, supporting, and investing in the world’s top founders. Today, Endeavor’s network spans 41 markets and supports more than 2,300 entrepreneurs whose companies generate combined revenues of over $42 billion US and have created more than 3.9 million jobs. Endeavor’s unique entrepreneur-first model and network of trust provide a platform for founders to dream big, scale up, and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

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. In Nigeria, Endeavor aims to select 4-6 companies a year, and today there are 33 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 16 companies in their portfolio. 

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Health

mPharma acquires majority stake in HealthPlus

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mPharma, Africa’s leading patient-centered technology-driven healthcare company, has acquired the majority stake in HealthPlus, the leading pharmacy chain in Nigeria. mPharma and the former investor, Alta Semper, have signed an agreement leading to the acquisition of a majority stake in the HealthPlus Group.

According to the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of mPharma, Gregory Rockson, the acquisition is in line with the company’s mission to build an Africa that is in good health by delivering life-changing healthcare services and drugs to improve health outcomes for patients. He stated that the acquisition of the HealthPlus Pharmacy chain by mPharma complements mPharma’s deep commitment to increasing patient access to affordable and quality healthcare in Nigeria.

“mPharma is deepening its long-standing commitment to Africa by reimagining primary healthcare in some of the most vulnerable communities on the continent. We continue to transform community pharmacies into primary care centers to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all patients so they can live not just longer but healthier lives. We are optimistic about the future of healthcare for Nigerians through the acquisition of HealthPlus.”, said Rockson.

In her remarks on the acquisition, Afsane Jetha, Co-founder and CEO at Alta Semper Capital, said: “We are delighted about HealthPlus’ partnership with mPharma. We have a strong conviction in mPharma’s strategy of revolutionizing primary care across Africa and believe mPharma is the ideal steward for HealthPlus’s next chapter of growth. We believe mPharma’s vision is consistent with that of HealthPlus’s shareholders and employees, and we are enthusiastic to support the business through a relationship with mPharma going forward”.

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While mPharma plans to continue to keep and strengthen HealthPlus as Nigeria’s leading pharmacy brand in Nigeria, the acquisition will also provide expansion opportunities for mPharma within Nigeria and a platform to expand mPharma’s mutti pharmacy retail footprint across the continent through its fast-growing QualityRx program. Powered by mPharma’s proprietary Bloom software, HealthPlus will provide patients access to affordable primary care services within its pharmacies, in addition to affordable and quality medications it currently retails across 12 states in Nigeria. The HealthPlus pharmacy chain will also launch mutti®, mPharma’s health membership program, which will provide both existing and new customers with discounts, interest-free “heal-now-pay-later” plans, free health screenings, and other primary care services.

By combining HealthPlus pharmacies with mPharma’s growing portfolio of partner mutti pharmacies and GoodHealth shops (PPMVs),mPharma’s network will grow from 224 to over 320 health facilities in Nigeria and will provide care to more than 100,000 Nigerians each month.

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Press Release

Bloom joins Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme

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Bloom, the Y Combinator-backed digital banking app has become the first Sudanese company to join Visa’s selective Fintech Fast Tack Programme. Following its graduation as the first Sudanese company in the Silicon Valley accelerator’s history; Bloom has recently launched its waitlist, which saw more than 100,000 users sign up for access to the app. During just two months of operations, Bloom has onboarded more than 20,000 members – which is a significant milestone.

Sudan is one of the ten most populous countries in Africa with tremendous economic potential; and the Sudanese government has recently put the modernisation of the financial system at the heart of its agenda since most of its people are underbanked – 60% of the population are under the age of 24 – a youthful demographic that is increasingly tech-savvy. Digitisation can bridge the gap in bringing banking services to consumers as payment apps and mobile wallets have far greater reach than traditional banks. Hence, Bloom is uniquely positioned to unlock this opportunity in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.

Michael Seibel, Managing Partner at Y Combinator commented: “We are excited by our investment in Bloom, and we value the diverse, yet complementary skillsets of its experienced founding team. Their passion and understanding of the financial challenges faced by consumers in Sudan and the wider East Africa region positions them uniquely for success.”

Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme allows companies like Bloom to receive incentives – reduced costs, faster onboarding, marketing support, in addition to dedicated hands-on support to launch Visa’s swathe of products. Admission to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme, the investment in Bloom by Visa, will see the fintech issue millions of Visa cards over the period, democratising access to international cards in Sudan.

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Visa Country General Manager for Sudan and Libya, Ahmed Mohey said, “We are thrilled to have Bloom at Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme. The suite of Visa’s products and services will provide customers with a secure, fast, and easy-to-use way to make online payments backed by the latest in security technology. Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants.”

Merghani Mahgoub, Managing Director of Bloom states, “Being admitted to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme is a compelling statement of intent from Visa and Bloom to drive adoption of Visa cards in Sudan, and the wider East Africa region. We have been deeply impressed by the Visa team and are excited to work with Visa in bringing our members state-of-the-art financial services, in a digital-first way.”

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