By virtue of his study and work in Dallas, Texas, Austin Akagu was familiar with Robinhood. The $7.6 billion-company lets users in the US trade financial securities from the convenience of a mobile app. But Akagu wanted to be able to buy stocks from his home country Nigeria without going through local brokers. At that time, Oluwatomi Solanke, whom Akagu had known from Kings College Lagos, was looking for ways to invest in foreign equities from Nigeria. 

Having worked together on smaller projects before, the secondary school mates thought it wise to collaborate on an app-based micro-investing solution for the Nigerian consumer.

“It was a collective pain point,” Solanke tells TechCabal. With Desayo Ajisegiri and Opeyemi Olanipekun (another KC alumnus) on board, they formed Trove in July 2018. 

Trove provides Nigerians access to shares of publicly-traded companies in Nigeria and the United States. Users download the Trove app, sign up with basic personal information and start trading with as little as 1000 ($2.73). Besides US stocks, cryptocurrencies, government bonds, mutual funds and shares of Chinese companies are on the menu too.

Osaze Iyengunmwena for TechCabal

It is one of a handful of Nigerian fintech services launched in the last 18 months with a big ambition: to democratize access to the treasures being traded by the world’s wealthiest on the most valuable global stock exchanges.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has a market capitalisation of about $71 billion, while NYSE and NASDAQ cap at $23.21 trillion and $11.22 trillion respectively. 

Micro-investing platforms that target foreign stock markets could plug Nigerians to large wealth pools

The value of a micro-investing app is captivating if you consider how straightforward wealth creation can be thanks to the magic of compound interest. Yet, investing in stocks can be a confusing, frustrating endeavour for regular folk. Going by their latest big-name equity investor and a peculiar founding journey, the Trove team wants the aspirational Nigerian to keep calm and anticipate exciting times.

Building a worthy product

Clarity came late in 2018 on how Trove would work practically. 

“Being first, there wasn’t necessarily any template to go by,” Akagu tells TechCabal. “We had to learn on the fly.”

As first movers, the four co-founders needed to blend their diverse competence and experience to figure out the uncharted path Trove was about to create.

The breakthrough came in February 2019 in the form of Labs by ARM. It was a 12-week accelerator programme by ARM, one of Nigeria’s largest asset management firms, organized in collaboration with Ventures Platform, a Nigerian private equity firm. Labs provided the Trove team access to mentorship, strategic support and an opportunity to challenge the rigorousness of their idea. A private beta version of the Trove app had been released in August 2018.

Oluwatomi Solanke (middle) has positioned Trove to attract equity interests from Ventures Platform, ARM and CIL Acquico. Source: Trove

A week of good news from the end of April to the beginning of May 2019 saw Trove demo at the Labs 1.0 finale and launch their app to the public. They’d go on to raise their first equity investment from Ventures Platform, joining a portfolio that includes fintech rising stars such as Paystack, Piggyvest and Mines (now Migo). Kayode Oyewole of Ventures Platform called Trove’s vision “a world of borderless investing.”

ARM gave 3 million ($8,200) grant to all six participants of the programme but decided they were interested enough in Trove’s proposition to warrant further discussion. Those conversations have culminated in the recently announced equity investment – it was actually closed in November 2019. The value is undisclosed but Solanke describes it as “substantial” though not near a million dollars.

A stable foundation for success

For Trove, accepting ARM’s investment has more strategic than monetary value. “We are fortunate to be in contact with people like ARM,” Solanke says, noting that it would have been uneasy to build such a sensitive service in a low-trust Nigerian environment. With $3 billion in assets under management, ARM’s backing should be pivotal for the narrative Trove wishes to sell in the US and Nigeria.

Presenting a compelling business case to US brokers was necessary to dispel fears about unpleasant aspects of Nigeria’s international business reputation, according to Akagu. It helped that they had members of the founding team on the ground in both countries. Executing partners include Sigma securities (in Nigeria) and Drive Wealth (in the US), in addition to “about four to five brokers,” Akagu says.

More partnerships on the way

Micro-investing might be the new fintech frontier to watch out for. Competition is brewing already with Chaka, Rise and Bamboo (all backed by Iyin Aboyeji’s Future Africa Fund) entering the space last year. Solanke, Trove’s CEO, says they aren’t flustered: “We have other relationships we’ll announce soon.”

In October 2019, Trove got another 3 million at the NSE’s first ever capital market hackathon, three months after receiving equity funding from CIL Acquico, a Nigerian holding company. ARM’s twenty-five-year experience makes them the “go-to institution if you are building an asset management solution,” Solanke says. He is confident in Trove’s ability to distinguish itself in the early micro-investing startup race.

Assurance enough? Source: Trove

Like their competitors, Trove adds a disclaimer: they are “a technology platform, not a registered broker-dealer or investment adviser.” However, they want consumers to be confident in the credibility and capacity of the people running the start-up. The combined years of engineering, investment banking and financial services experience of the four co-founders, Solanke says, put them in good stead to successfully run a demanding micro-investing service.

Read this next
In 2020, Fintech Startups May Need to Seriously Tweak their Distribution Tactics

In the last few months, Nigerian fintechs startups have witnessed a flurry of activities that are forcing them to restrategize. From the hundred million dollar investments in rival companies to regulatory pressure, startups know they may have to tweak their approach in the new year to stay competitive. We’re going to identify these over the […]

More From TC
News, Policy
21st January 2021

Following the order from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to suspend mobile numbers of people without a National Identity Number (NIN), there has been a rapid increase in the number of people obtaining their NINs.  Between December 15th, 2020 when the order was given and the second deadline date, January 19th, 2021, Nigerian mobile operators […]

Seun* is a 55-year-old teacher who uses Opera News to stay informed on current events.  She says she just found it on her phone and started using it. Her tech-savvy teenage son, who is listening to our conversation, confirms that it came pre-installed on her android device.  She later complains that she’s tired of mostly […]


The BackEnd explores the product development process in African tech. We take you into the minds of those who conceived, designed and built the product; highlighting product uniqueness, user behaviour assumptions and challenges during the product cycle. — In its 2020 African tech startups funding report, Disrupt Africa identifies 99 fintech companies across 11 countries […]


The new US president will begin dismantling his predecessor’s legacy from Day 1, but may need one holdover to influence Africa. In January 2020, Nigerian healthcare startup LifeBank became the first company to receive investment under a new maternal care initiative introduced by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). LifeBank’s 24/7 blood supply business […]

TechCabal is a Big Cabal Media brand

Copyright © 2013 - 2021
All rights reserved

Privacy & Terms