16. Rensource: Rensource Energy is a leading provider of off-grid solar energy. It is an energy company built as a financial services business. It offers a turnkey business opportunity that allows qualifying companies throughout Nigeria and West Africa to start selling Power-as-a-Service (PaaS) to their customers. Rensource generates electricity through small solar-hybrid systems that are installed in the premises of the final customers. It offers various subscription plans which include Go, Eco, Duplo, and Pro, based on the customer’s energy requirements. It is situated at Lagos, Nigeria. It was founded in 2015 by Ademola Adesina and Jussi Savukoski. The firm targets small and medium-sized enterprises with the aim of replacing generators with solar energy systems. In 2016, the organization raised $1.1m seed funding from CRE Venture Capital and other investors to aid its product development and early sales efforts, particularly in the Lagos market. In January 2018, the company obtained $650,000 debt financing from Trine Financial Services to provide 4,000 shops across Nigeria with access to electricity. Within the same month, it also raised $3.5m in a Venture round, led by Amaya Capital Partners, to position itself for profitable growth in the renewable energy market in West Africa. The funds were meant to be used for expanding the team, scaling operations to Kano and Abuja, enlarging its product base, as well as, launching its B2B-focused “Powered by Rensource” offering. In October 2018, Rensource received another investment of an undisclosed amount in its micro-utility project, Sabon Gari Energy by NEoT Offgrid Africa, to power over 12,000 shops in Sabon Gari market in Kano state. The firm is leading the charge to electrify West Africa through distributed power generation from solar energy, enabling it, potentially, provide electricity to millions of people across the region and continent.
17. Paga: Paga is a mobile payments platform that allows its users to carry out a variety of transactional services, like paying bills, buying airtime, transferring money and making payments. It has two primary channels- a network of physical stores (agents) and an online/mobile platform. Paga works on the most basic SMS enabled phone and on all mobile networks, so customers have the ability to use their accounts no matter the telecom provider or phone they are using. It does these through a partnership with select banks, microfinance institutions, and mobile network operators. The company was founded in 2009 by Tayo Oviosu, and publicly launched in 2011. The idea was borne out of frustration by the founder carrying cash around with him. He believed there was a better way to pay or get paid, and not long after, Paga was launched. He bootstrapped the company for the first 6 months, running a lean team, before raising investment. Some of the early investors were Tayo’s bosses. According to Techcrunch, the company has raised $34.7m.
Paga has grown over the years to become the leading mobile payment company in Nigeria with over 9 million customers and 17,000 agents. For consumers, its core offering is the money transfer service, though bill payments, airtime recharge, and retail payments are also services provided. For merchants, however, the business allows the collection of payments from both the banked and unbanked population through its network of agents and e-widget that can be integrated into their platforms. Paga is striving to achieve financial inclusion for Nigerians and the rest of Africa by building a truly inclusive financial services firm. In the words of Tayo, when trying to explain how he would describe the organization to a 6-year old during a 2015 TechCabal QnA, “Think payments, think Paga! Paga helps you pay for things”.
18. Co-Creation Hub (CC-Hub): Co-Creation Hub is Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space designed to be a multifunctional, multi-purpose space where work to catalyze creative social tech ventures take place. The areas of focus include smart infrastructure, governance, health & well-being, fintech, education, and digital security. It is located in Lagos, Nigeria, and is praised as one of the pioneers of the “Yaba-con Valley”. CC-Hub was founded in 2010 by Bosun Tijani and Femi Longe but officially launched in 2011. Over the years, the firm has catalyzed social change in Nigeria through technology and its programmes. Over 95 early stage ventures have been supported through its incubation unit, creating over 450 jobs, some of which include BudgIT, LifeBank, Wecyclers, Piggybank, Mamalette, and Stutern. They initiated GO-GA (GoLabs Goes Africa) to improve about 64,000 students’ participation and outcomes in STEM across 7 African countries through the deployment of engaging STEM content, in addition to capacity development of over 1000 teachers. In 2018, Co-Creation Hub partnered with Facebook to launch NG_Hub, which would be home to startups in the FbStart Accelerator, who are building solutions that leverage AI, data science, IoT and Virtual Reality. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria for the first time to see the tech boom in Lagos in 2016, CC-Hub was one of the only firms he visited. In 2015, the organization launched a ₦1bn social innovation fund called Growth Capital, and as of 2019, had raised N280m and invested ₦228.6m. In 2017, the firm engaged 14 select African tech ventures on a tour of tech cities in Europe (London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich, and Paris) to pitch to investors, with the aim of raising €20m in funding. In addition to these, CC-Hub with its commitment of developing social change, created re:learn, which delivers world-class STEM education to thousands of students by providing support for the smart application of technology in schools in Nigeria. As a high-ranked stakeholder in the tech ecosystem in Nigeria and a core implementation partner for the i-HQ Project (home to over 30 tech companies in Yaba), the organization was one of the select organizations that initiated and signed the Yaba Manifesto. Over the past 8 years, according to Crunchbase, Co-Creation Hub has raised $5.5m and has funded 25 companies, with a $5,000 investment in Tenders NG being its latest.
19. Wakanow: Wakanow was established in 2008 by Obinna Ekezie as Nigeria’s first Online Travel Agent to bridge the gap and eliminate barriers and inefficiencies in the travel industry. The firm was created after Obinna had an inconvenient encounter with travel agents while trying to make bookings from Nigeria. In his words, “… we decided to set up Wakanow to change the face of travel and give people convenience, transparency, and best-priced deals”. Wakanow has positioned itself as Africa’s premier online travel booking service company, and in 2010, was one of the exclusive ticket resellers for the World Cup in South Africa. In 2013, the firm was recognized as one of the fastest growing online companies in Nigeria by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. It continued along this trajectory and in 2015, acquired Oya.com.ng, a major bus ticketing platform, for a reported $2.5m, to provide travel-related services to both air and road transport users. In that same year, Obinna was recognized as the West African Entrepreneur of the Year at the AABLA Awards, due to the progress of Wakanow over the years. The organization has since established a physical presence in the UAE, Ghana, UK, US and has plans to expand across the continent. It is with this vision and hard work that led to the $40m investment last year by The Carlyle Group.
20. CowryWise: CowryWise is a fintech company democratizing access to premium financial services by making these services available to the mass market cheaply. It is a digital platform that allows people to save and invest securely to meet financial goals. With its bank-grade security, automated savings option, competitive return rates and the ability to withdraw anytime in unlocked plans, the firm is making the savings process easier and much better. According to the CEO, Razaq Ahmed, he and his co-founder, Edward Poopola, created CowryWise in 2017 out of necessity; the necessity to meet the demand of people who want to be more financially responsible by having access to simple financial planning tools, high-quality savings, and investment opportunities. The firm securely invests its clients’ money in risk-free financial instruments like treasury bills and bonds with zero fees, and these individuals are presented with a 10-15% per annum interest on their money saved. Since its inception, the platform has processed more than $1.5m in savings for thousands of users in Nigeria. In 2018, it was accepted into the Y Combinator, the foremost incubator in the world. Within the same year, it received funding from Microtraction, and Kairos K50 Venture Fund as one of the 50 winners, as well as, being listed as one of the 50 world-changing startups to watch in 2019, out of a pool of 2,500 early-stage startups.