LFP210 – West Africa’s First Digital Savings and Micro-Investment Fintech w/Odun Eweniyi co-founder PiggyVest

Africa is one of the lynchpins of Fintech’s origins – key origins being Zopa’s invention of P2P borrowing/lending in 2005 and mPesa’s mobile money+ in 2007. In this episode we take a look at more recent innovation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country with a population of over 200 million. Piggyvest who launched in 2016 and whose only round to date was a $1.8m seed now have an amazing 4 million customers saving and investing via their app. In 2021 alone, the platform paid out over $582 million to its users

In this jolly episode (we could do with an injection of Nigerian positivity and humour in Europe right now) Odun, co-founder and COO,  guides us through an introduction to Nigeria, her entrepreneurial career and the background to Piggyvest, the seminal role of a wooden box (!) as well as the future.

Africa in a world beset by American “wokism” is all too often seen at an insanely low resolution as if it were a place rather than a continent of a billion people and some 50+countries. We will cover Fintech in Africa per se in an upcoming episode but first we start with no generalisations just an great tale of entrepreneurship and a prime example of how the digital revolution in FS is worldwide, needing just the right amount of tinder and entrepreneurial spark to enable better deals for not just  the over-served global zilllionaires but for every smaller sums of money – in Piggyvest’s case one can save and invest from as little as 20 US cents.

Topics discussed include:

  • the three main peoples of Nigeria – Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa and their geographical distributions
  • in total an amazing 180 languages are spoken in Nigeria
  • broadly Christian in the South, Muslim in the North with many traditional religions/practices
  • Nigeria is the world’s 6th largest country and 3rd largest speaker of English (education is all in English)
  • the majority of tribal groups marry in-tribe although in Lagos there is more intermixing
  • advice I was given in the early days of the podcast about Nigerians
  • the spirit of Nigerians around the world
  • Nigerians as having a great sense of humour unaffected by US/European puritanical wokism
  • Odun’s career journey starting as an entrepreneur right out of university with some friends
  • the origin story of Piggyvest amazingly involving New Year’s Eve, twitter and wooden boxes ( I joketh not)
  • “digital wooden boxes”
  • two weeks later the MVP for Piggybank, as was
  • the change from Piggybank to Piggyvest once investment became added to the service list
  • the background of Nigerian banking – high costs and hassle, low speed et al
  • 22 banks in 2016 – all identical processes
  • Nigerian millennials’ expectations
  • difficulty/impossibility of young people getting loans
  • Nigeria lacks a credit system – examples of how such a system works
  • the economics of young tech folk in Lagos
  • challenges of savings and investment
  • investment minimum ticket size for traditional brokers was ~$2k
  • acquiring a micro-finance licence
  • the challenge of booting up a business from marketing to banking services
  • the key role of a lead investor
  • 700 users in the first year – painstaking start
  • snowballing from focusing on great client service
  • creating trust in a low trust environment
  • the importance of retaining a human face and the founders being known
  • never over-promised and so never under-delivered
  • the development of FS regulation in the UK and in Nigeria
  • challenges of engaging with regulators especially in a changing environment for FS
  • the key to succeeding
  • income distribution in Nigeria and the practical addressable marketplace for Piggyvest
  • 47% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty by World Bank standards ($3 per day or less income)
  • the narrowest submarket for Piggyvest is around 20 million people
  • the key to growing using only a tiny amount of capital
  • 70 staff at present
  • dynamics of raising capital in Nigeria
  • where does a successful West African Fintech expand next – geographically, within Africa by population, overseas in countries with similar economic characteristics?
  • pan-African or emerging markets?
  • what other successful Nigerian Fintechs have done
  • Nigerians anywhere can use the app
  • Piggyvest are currently raising a Series A
  • shoutout for partners

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!