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Yesterday, we told you about how Kenyan online marketplace Sky.Garden is bouncing back through a $1.63 million acquisition deal with Lipa Later. But, we know we left you on the edge about the nitty-gritty details of the deal. No teasing here—we just wanted to get all the details right! Our Kenyan reporter, Kenn Abuya wrote all about it here.
Pivo, a Nigerian supply chain fintech, shuts down
Co-founders of Pivo; Nkiru Amadi-Emina and Ijeoma Jacquelyn Akwiwu
Pivo, a Nigerian fintech startup that raised more than $2.6 million from Y Combinator and over 17 other investors, has closed shop.
Despite its promising start, the company had to cease its operations one year after raising a $2 million seed round in November 2022, earmarked for extending operations into East Africa and introducing payment-focused products.
Why? The CEO, Nkiru Amadi-Emina, did not deny the shutdown but refused to disclose specific details, stating that she would “be happy to do so at a later date”.
Co-founded by Nkiru Amadi-Emina and Ijeoma Akwiwu in July 2021, Pivo offered banking services to small supply chain businesses in Nigeria’s supply chain sector. With two fintech verticals—Pivo Capital, a lending product, and Pivo Business, a business banking product—the company claimed to have disbursed over $3 million in loans and processed more than $4 million through Pivo Business.
Zoom out: Pivo’s closure adds to the growing list of African startups that have shutdown in 2023. Startups like Lazerpay, 54gene and Hytch shutdown in April, September and February respectively, due to the economic downturn and a rising funding gap.
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Jumia Nigeria’s CEO steps down
Jumia Nigeria’s new CEO Sunil Natraj
Sunil Natraj will replace Massimiliano Spalazzi as CEO of Jumia Nigeria.
Massimiliano Spalazzi, the current CEO of e-commerce giant Jumia Nigeria, will be stepping down in December 2023 after working with Jumia Group for 11 years. Spalazzi, one of Jumia’s pioneer employees, will be replaced by Sunil Natraj.
Natraj, who previously headed Jumia Ghana’s business arm, will start in his new role in January 2024. Natraj’s appointment comes at a time when Jumia suffered a decline in growth from its single biggest market—Nigeria—after the country’s unstable currency exchange system affected Jumia and other businesses. Jumia recently turned its focus to rural markets in Nigeria to ensure profitability.
Another view: Natraj’s appointments mirror the current reshuffling process to get Jumia on track towards profitability. The e-commerce board appointed Francis Durfay as the company’s CEO in February. Dufay was announced as the acting CEO after the exit of Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poginonnec as co-CEOs.
Since Francis Dufay took the helm at Jumia, he has implemented painful cuts across the company, including laying off 900 (20%) employees. Also, 60% of Jumia’s top management team who work from the UAE were mandated to work from the continent to save costs. Dufay also earns less than previous CEOs.
Lights out: Over the years, Jumia has consistently splurged on marketing and advertising costs as it positions itself in the African market. However, the company reduced its advertising spend by 40% early this year to ensure profitability. The company is looking to expand into more Nigerian cities in the coming months as it focuses on rural markets to ensure profitability.
Lidya shuts down European business, shifts focus to Nigerian market
Co-founders of Lidya; Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eksin
Lidya, a small and medium enterprise (SME) lending company, has decided to exit its European lending operations in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The seven-year-old company aims to redirect its efforts towards growing its new credit assessment and loan recovery offering for the Nigerian market.
Why? Lidya decided to leave the European market three years after it expanded its small business lending services to Eastern Europe. The company is now channelling its focus on Lydia Collect, a loan recovery tool initially developed last year, for its in-house SME lending operations. Tunde Kehinde, Lidya’s co-founder and CEO, expressed confidence in Nigeria’s tech-savvy lending ecosystem, calling it the “ideal launchpad” for Lidya’s solutions that support data-driven decision-making.
Lidya Collect, built upon Nigeria’s Global Standing Instruction (GSI) technology, will serve as a robust last-resort system, enabling connected lenders to directly debit accounts of loan defaulters in other banks. The company collaborated with the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to integrate Lidya Collect with the existing GSI infrastructure.
A new product: Additionally, Lidya unveiled Lidya Bridge, a credit assessment offering introduced in October 2023. Lidya Bridge will analyse 300 data points from borrowers’ bank statements, streamlining the process of evaluating new loan customers.
The big picture: Lidya will focus on selling Collect and Bridge to micro-finance institutions and other financial service providers, with over 50 lenders and microfinance banks already signed up for the service.
Since its inception in 2016, Lidya has raised a total of $16.5 million in funding, with its latest being $8.3 million in Pre-Series B funding.
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Bitmama in advanced talks to acquire Payday in $1 million equity deal
Nigerian fintech Payday, after securing a $3 million seed funding round in February, is now in talks to be acquired by Bitmamaa Nigerian crypto exchange startup.
This news comes three months after Payday reportedly began exploring acquisition opportunities.
What’s the price? Bitmama is offering Payday investors $1 million worth of equity in the crypto company at a $30 million valuation. This acquisition would be mutually beneficial, as Payday would gain access to Bitmama’s global services and remittance expertise, while Bitmama would acquire Payday’s existing customer base and software infrastructure.
Ruth Iselema, the CEO of Bitmama, expressed enthusiasm for the acquisition, stating that Favour Ori, the CEO of PayDay contacted her because Bitmama is expanding its product range beyond crypto, and one of these offerings is Changera—Bitmama’s relatively new remittance service—which made sense to her.
ICYMI: In March, there were speculations about Moniepoint acquiring Payday. However, the deal did not go through, with sources suggesting that Moniepoint’s board was not enthusiastic about the acquisition.
If the acquisition deal with Bitmama goes through, an individual who knows the agreement mentioned that Bitmama would assume responsibility for Payday’s customer deposits and liabilities.
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Kenya pauses digital IDs rollout
Kenyans will have to wait a little longer to get their digital IDs.
A high court in Kenya has paused the rollout of the proposed digital ID system, citing a critical gap in data protection impact assessments. The digital IDs were planned for rollout this month.
Back story: The digital ID system, stylised Maisha Namba, was launched to replace the failed Huduma Namba. Per the Kenyan government, digital IDs were implemented to boost service delivery and promote financial inclusion for its citizens.
However, the government is discontinuing the rollout following scrutiny from digital rights organisations, including Access Now and the Kenyan Human Rights Commission. These groups have raised concerns about whether the government conducted a thorough data protection impact assessment before introducing the service.
Digital rights groups expressed concerns about the government’s lack of transparency and shaky legal foundation. They pointed out issues such as insufficient nationwide public involvement, uncertainties about data protection, a failure to evaluate the risks associated with excluding a significant number of Kenyans, and the rapid pace of the planned rollout.
Lights out:The Maisha Namba project was planned for rollout in December 2023, but it remains to be seen if the Kenyan high court will overturn its decision.
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* Data as of 00:15 AM WAT, December 6, 2023.
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- Applications are open for the Mastercard Foundations Scholars Program 2023/2024 at the Carnegie Melon University Africa. The program provides generous financial, social, and academic support for students whose talents and promise exceed their financial resources. Apply by January 15, 2024.
- The citizens of Commonwealth countries in Africa can now apply for the Commonwealth Africa Cyber Fellowship Programme 2024. Selected experts will serve as fellows for a year, and get exclusive access to academic research opportunities, networking events and annual conferences, with a focus on enhancing cybersecurity policies and institutions across Commonwealth countries in Africa. Apply by December 10.
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