BuyPower is a firm that helps to remove the barriers to payment and purchase of electricity in Nigeria. Benjamin Ufaruna and Asehinde Oladipo launched the startup in 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria. In an excerpt from TechCrunch, Ufuruna, talking about the motivation for starting the company, said, "In the midst of our busy schedules, we could try to find time to dash down to the electricity company to get electricity for the house. If they are closed, you have to stay in darkness till Monday when they open. You have circumstances where people are traveling and they have to come to the utility and there are long queues. It was that frustration that convinced us to do something about it."
Through its webpage and mobile application (downloadable via Play Store and App Store), after customers sign up (or login), they are directed to the first page where they fill in their state, meter number and how much electricity they want to buy. After inputting such information, they are taken to a page where they are asked to review the order. The service charge is capped at N100. Customers can pay units for as low as N600 and as high as N500,000. Once they are done reviewing the order, they are taken to the payment page where they can choose their mode of payment. They utilize the Paystack payment processor for fast and easy transfers. If the customer is a first time user, a code is sent to the number of the review page. Once the code is entered, the transfer would be successful.
BuyPower currently partners with Kaduna Electric, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Kallam Power and Jos Electricity Distribution Plc. In 2017, they were admitted into Y Combinator’s Winter batch, securing a $120,000 investment. In that same year, CEO, Ufuruna admitted that they had 40% of the paid electricity market in Abuja, and were already generating $1 million monthly.
42. Kudi Africa:
Kudi is a digital payments startup that helps its users utilize financial services through their phones. Users are able to transfer money, sell airtime, pay for TV subscriptions, data and electricity bills, and carry out withdrawals with the aid of a Kudi agent. The startup was founded in 2017 by Obafemi Awolowo University duo, Yinka Adewale and Pelumi Aboluwarin in Lagos, Nigeria.
It was launched initially as a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) Facebook chatbot that assisted in making money transfers and online bill payments. The idea was to put a human feel to payments. Moreso, the chatbot used phone networks instead of data connections, so that Nigerians with poor or no internet connection could still make payments. However, on noticing the number of unbanked Africans, they decided to “build a product that could act as a gateway, facilitating the conversion of cash to digital and digital bank to cash for the everyday consumer”. To move a step further in aiding all its potential clients, particularly, the unbanked, make digital payments, they instituted an agent network that has grown from 211 in January 2018 to 4500 in April 2019, with plans to reach over 200,000 active agents in the coming years. As of April 2019, Kudi processed $30 million in payments, as opposed to the $1.10 million it processed in April 2018.
In 2017, the firm was accepted into the Y Combinator’s accelerator program, receiving a $120,000 investment. They raised additional seed funding from angel investors in Silicon Valley and Nigeria in that same year. However, as of March 2019, WeeTracker revealed that Kudi had just raised $5.8 million Series A funding from the Partech Africa Fund by Partech. This investment, as confirmed by the Partech team, would help Kudi in its Nigerian expansion over the next 12 months.
43. Aella Credit:
Aella Credit is a fin-tech company that is simplifying financial access to the banked and unbanked through the provision of affordable credit. It was launched in 2015 by Akin Jones and Wale Akanbi and operates in Nigeria, Ghana, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It is headquartered in the USA.
The algorithm processes an applicant’s eligibility for a loan by considering social and demographic factors as well as debt to income ratio. Six months after launch in 2015, the firm was able to disburse loans worth $500,000 to over 1000 people, recording only 4 defaults. It currently provides credit through out-of-network loans, in-network loans, and micro-merchant loans. The firm helps employees access funds between N1500-N700,000 for a period of 1-2 months at an interest rate of 4-29% monthly. In its 4 years of operations, Aella Credit has disbursed over 300,000 loans out of its network and to over 200,000 employees in its network. It has more than 60 organizational partners, a 45% active female user base, and has converted 30% of its out-of-network loans to in-network loans, providing them cheaper rates and higher loan amounts. It is planning on adding an investor option to permit investments with annual returns between 15-48% for investors.
In 2015, the firm partook in the Barclays Tech Lab Africa Incubation Programme in Cape Town, and by 2016, they raised $150,000 from 500 Startups. They were admitted into Y Combinator’s 2017 Winter batch, securing an additional $120,000 investment. In that same year, they received an undisclosed amount of funding from 9 investors, as reported by Crunchbase, with Y Combinator and 500 Startups as lead investors. They signed an exclusive partnership with Gluwa to pioneer blockchain-powered lending in Africa, ensuring low FX volatility for foreign investors and much needed capital in Africa. From that partnership, they built Creditcoin, a credit investment blockchain, and in 2019, signed a letter of intent with The Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) to build credit for the 5 million VAVA members and provide micro-lending and credit-recording technologies to the organization and its members.
44. Helium Health:
Helium Health is the largest electronic medical records provider in West Africa. It is a technology company working to make healthcare more efficient and affordable in Africa. The firm was founded in 2016 by Goke Olubusi, Tito Ovia and Dimeji Sofowora in Lagos, Nigeria.
The firm has enabled hospitals and clinics to go digital with its flagship electronic medical records platform, enabling them to automate their processes, engage their patients, grow their revenue and provide a better quality of care. They are inspired by a vision of a connected healthcare ecosystem across Africa and empowering all stakeholders with actionable data and tools with actionable data and tools to make informed decisions. Founded as OneMedical in 2016, Helium Health launched its pilot 4 months later in Lagos, Nigeria. In August of that same year, they were awarded by the Nigerian president on the Aso Villa Demo Day, and by December, they won Etisalat's Prize for Innovation, receiving the N5 million grand prize. In 2017, they were admitted into Y Combinator, clinching the $120,000 investment (it was at this point, they rebranded to Helium Health), and raised $2 million from top VCs in September of that year. They launched publicly in Nigeria in 2018 and merged with MedicPlus. By March 2019, they became the largest EMR provider in West Africa, handling over 145,000 encounters daily.
Releaf is a tech-enabled processor of crude vegetable oil in Nigeria. They use hardware innovation to scale the sale of high-quality raw materials to food factories in Africa, starting with the Nigerian vegetable oil. It was founded in 2017 by Isaiah Udotong (MIT ’18), Ikenna Nzewi (Yale ’17) and Uzoma Ayogu (Duke ’17).
The firm buys palm kernel nuts locally and crushes them into palm kernel oil, which is the primary ingredient in vegetable oil. Releaf works as a B2B marketplace connecting verified sellers with buyers. According to TechCrunch,
By taking the verification and networking process online and making it faster, Releaf hopes to help African industries unleash their full potential. The startup’s team verifies all potential users of the site themselves. Businesses need to provide their registration number from Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission and references. To make sure the references are also legitimate, Releaf calls each one (which has the added benefit of getting the word about their platform). Then Releaf boosts businesses that have made successful transactions through the site by making them more visible.
The startup was admitted into Y Combinator’s 2017 Summer batch, securing an investment of $120,000, but deferred thrice to begin in the 2019 Winter batch. Some of their backers/mentors include Dr. Adewunmi Adesina (President of AfDB), Carmichael Roberts, Rotimi Olawale and Ifueko Okauru. As of Dec 2018, they had 250 tonnes of palm kernel nuts crushed and sold 60 tonnes of oil, with plans to double their capacity in 2019.