54gene is the premier African genomics company building the world’s first and largest pan-African biobank. The company was founded to unlock the African genome and improve our understanding of the world’s most genetically diverse population. The company was founded in 2019 by Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, who holds a Ph.D. in cancer biology from the University of London, to address the significant gap in the global genomics market. Only 2% of genetic materials used are African, despite Africans and people of African ancestry being more genetically diverse than all other world populations combined.
The 54gene study is termed, “Heritage”, and according to them, “…is designed to collate Africa’s genetic diversity across multiple subpopulations”. Currently, they are in 10 of the largest hospitals in Africa and conduct operations from their offices in California, USA, and Lagos, Nigeria. They have access to over 2 million patients and would have worked with 40,000 participants by the end of 2019. 54gene has over 50 principal investigators working in disease areas like cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, metabolic disease, and sickle cell. They ensure that data collection and storage processes are HIPPA and GDPR compliant, and partner with other pharmaceutical and biotech partners to study unique datasets to identify diagnostic and therapeutic targets. They also provide genetic testing and other molecular diagnostics services. In addition to this, they have set up a trust to provide benefits from commercial dividends to patients and institutions from areas they recruit. Emerging Africa serves as an independent trustee.
54gene was one of the 6 African companies that partook in Y Combinator’s Winter batch 2019, leading to a $150,000 investment. It was also selected for the Google Launchpad Africa third cohort. Earlier in the year, they raised an undisclosed amount from Microtraction to increase its market share. Some of its other investors include Fifty Years VC, Hack VC, Better Ventures, KDt Ventures, Pioneer Fund, and Techammer.
Credpal is a technology company that develops point-of-sale credit infrastructure to ease consumer credit purchases and enables retail businesses to provide on-demand credit for the consumer population. Its plan is to revolutionize consumer credit in emerging markets, starting with Africa. The firm was founded by Fehintolu Olaogun and Olorunfemi Jegede in Lagos, Nigeria in 2017.
Credpal is a digital lender that allows its customers to make purchases and pay in stress-free, fixed monthly payments entirely on their own terms, either with a credit card (through its partnership with Visa) or at the point of checkout. The firm pays 100% upfront to the merchants, and works with brands like Shopili, Konga, Pointek, Livio, and GoPandy, driving 16% retail growth. Credpal does not charge service fees, prepayment fees, or any other hidden fees, outside interest on all credit purchases. The service permits card setup for pending repayments and post-dated cheques written and signed for pending repayments, with credit limits determined after pre-assessments take place. Once a customer chooses what they want to buy, they simply select CredPal as their payment option. They are then redirected to a payment gateway where they can fill in how many months they would like to pay over and some other details. The system uses a proprietary AI engine to perform risk analysis and after approval, a safe credit limit is also accepted and the order would be successful.
In 2018, Credpal secured $20,000 seed funding and as winners of the Visa Everywhere Program in the same year, they received an additional $25,000. The fintech startup was part of Y Combinator’s 2019 Winter batch, securing a $150,000 investment in the process. Moreso, as one of the three winners in the startup category for the 2019 EFInA Initiative, they shared $2,000,000 with the other grantees.
Wallet.africa is an online digital banking platform built around the user’s phone number, enabling the user to perform seamless financial transactions wherever they are. John Oke and Joseph BensonAruna launched Wallet.Africa (then, Wallet.ng) in 2016 in Lagos, Nigeria.
With a Wallets account, you can transfer money within Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, buy airtime and data, and pay bills. Its virtual dollar prepaid Visa debit card also lets the user make quick and convenient international payments. Wallets to Wallets transfers are free, but sending to a bank account number attracts a fee of N25. As of July 2018, it had processed N234 million across 17,000 transactions, and the firm has had an average of 78% month-on-month growth in transaction volume and value since January 2018. Within the same time period, they had 5000 users and primarily targeted students, entrepreneurs, young professionals, and expats. In the long term, co-founder/CEO, John Oke says Wallet.africa would be looking to “facilitate cross-border payments for people using decentralized systems.”
In 2018, they were second-place winners of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, securing a $5,000 investment, and received initial seed funding from Microtraction at an undisclosed amount. In 2019, they were part of Y Combinator’s Winter batch, winning $150,000 and additional investments from 9Yards Capital and Hacked Capital.
39. BuyCoins Africa:
Formerly, Bitkoin Africa, BuyCoins is a service that enables users to trade cryptocurrency instantly with no wait time. It wants to be the cryptocurrency exchange for Africa. With a secure wallet, it is the only platform in Africa that allows buying, selling, and storage of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. The firm was launched in 2017 by Timi Ajiboye and Ire Aderinokun in Lagos, Nigeria.
It takes approximately 5 minutes to buy and sell on the platform, after verifying your identity using your Bank Verification Number, phone number and Nigerian bank account. There are no hidden fees or charges and zero transaction fees. Coins can also be traded peer-to-peer. They are escrowed to ensure security and fast settlements, and BuyCoins gives the users the ability to set their own price per Bitcoin. The firm’s margin on peer-to-peer transactions is only 0.4%, which is much lower than other exchange platforms on the continent charging 1%, including LocalBitcoins, Remitano, and Paxful. As of January 2019, they had completed $2 million in transaction volume and in May 2019, over $4 million.
According to Crunchbase, BuyCoins Africa had raised a total of $1.2 million in 2 seed funding rounds. BuyCoins Africa was also part of Y Combinator’s 2018 Summer batch, securing a $120,000 investment in the process. They are also a Microtraction portfolio company.
40. Reliance HMO:
According to the website, they describe themselves as a “health insurance company that acts as a technology company”. Using software, data science and telemedicine, they make health insurance more affordable, easier to access and more of a delightful experience. It was founded in 2017 by Dr. Femi Kuti and Opeyemi Olumekun.
There are currently two plans: Red Beryl and Alexandrite, and payments can be made monthly, quarterly or yearly. For the Red Beryl plan, with a budget as low as N3500/month, Nigerians can get coverage for up to N1.2million a year, treatment of everyday illnesses, access to 9 different surgeries capped at N150,000 per year, eye care up to N15,000, access to 571 hospitals, free 24-hour online chat with a doctor, and consultation with a specialist, dental care and gym (for graduated members). The Alexandrite plan, which is offered at N6000 per person per month, provides all the benefits of the Red Beryl plan and more. Improvements include coverage for medical expenses as high as N1.8million a year, access to 14 different types of surgeries up to a N300,000 limit annually, provision of eye care (lenses, glasses, and frames) for up to N25,000, spa, and access to 734 hospitals.
Some of Reliance HMO’s clients include Taxify, Paystack, Amazon Energy. Kudi, Jobberman, Daystar Christian Center and BCL Construction and Civil Engineering. According to Crunchbase, when the firm was still regarded as Kangpe, the telemedicine firm, it raised $50,000 in 3 seed funding rounds and was even admitted into Y Combinator’s 2017 Winter batch.8
Episode VIII - 100 Companies that have Changed the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Nigeria