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Capital is a safety net that allows you to take risk or go through perilous times and survive

From both a business and personal perspective, of everything that comes to mind when analysing and trying to put 2020 into some sort of order, the concept of “Capital” sums up the year for me; in every sense of the word.

From a business perspective — those who had accrued financial capital to fall back on during the toughest times, were able to continue to do business — paying bills, paying staff. That in itself — ensuring timely payments of salaries, is a social bond, and part of an employer’s social [and professional] capital. Furthermore, from my own observations and interactions, I also noted that much of the social capital accrued between individuals and businesses during this time, came to fruition; those who did need support, or an extension for payment of invoices, supplier credit or an extension of delivery times, were able to pool the social and professional capital they had with their counterparts, so they could still function, in some form. Or perhaps even to grow. …


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My new enterprise started life as a small, crack team of experts who would be the core, the essence, the heartbeat of Sparkle, but who essentially would also oversee the procurement and outsourcing of experts to join and build our tribe. That was the concept.

I have always been a believer in letting the experts work their magic. I knew what Sparkle could be, I knew the tactics we would need to employ to make it happen. Whilst I don’t advocate the “it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in….”


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photo by : @olabodeskills

The current demonstrations taking place in Nigeria are like nothing we’ve seen before. Yes, we’ve seen protests — often led by various unions — but they [to my knowledge] have never unified so many people with one, unified voice, so fast. A typical protest in Nigeria will have a leader or figurehead of some sort, and maybe some surrounding factions pressing ahead with their individual agendas, and there might be a localised protest for a day or two and perhaps even an open letter printed in the national press.

Targeted at the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS], this movement has no leader, and has garnered thousands of young people with a unified voice, to take to the streets. With a heavy emphasis on peaceful protest, the already week-long protest sees no signs of slowing down. …


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I consider myself to be a fully signed up servant to the digital world; I am old enough not to be a digital native — I remember all too well the days of endless paper trails, and have actively fought against the old ways and embraced digital technology to make my personal and business transactions simpler. I knew early on that life would be easier with everything online. Faster, safer, better transparency — at home, at work. Diamond Bank was the first Nigerian bank to go paperless and to fully, fully adopt digital as a means of doing business and, importantly, scaling. …


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According to a report by PWC, only around 1.5% of Nigerian adults are covered by insurance today. When I read that, I was actually almost surprised it was that high. I’d say that the sector is broken, but that would suggest it had, at one point, been “fixed”. It has never been fit for purpose, hence the incredibly low adoption rates and the fact that insuring oneself against risk has not really entered Nigerians’ collective consciousness. All this, and we have no real State or Government infrastructure to support us for when things go wrong either.

The insurance sector we are faced with today is manual, based on legacy systems, massively under capitalised, comes with absolutely no product differentiation and offers very little value for consumers. It is of a bygone era and is wide open for some smart people to come and start fixing it. …


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Day zero of Sparkle, we knew one thing. We were going to be a fully digital, online platform. No paper, no public-facing property, and importantly, no cards. We were a mobile-first digital finance platform. We were going to leverage digital to build a platform around our customers to provide them with a simple, transparent experience that would be difficult for traditional platforms to do.

So, why no more cards? To the Sparkle team, they felt clumsy and unnecessary; multiple accounts = multiple cards, which is essentially just more life admin and more to carry around. They are also a costly system for transaction processors, merchants don’t like them and they are also open to higher instances of fraud through physical transactions — an unnecessary additional overhead borne by users and merchants. …


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Today was a sad day for me. It was also an opportunity to reflect on one of our values and how important values are. Important because when you think deeply about Values, they are actually something you can’t put a value on. You realIy can’t monetize them. They are priceless. However you can see the damage it causes when values, and the trust that they until, are broken.

Today I found out that a colleague of mine, someone I had worked with for over 5 years and who was treated like a member of my family, who I deliberately took interest in his well being and development, had been pilfering money from me for many years. It’s difficult to express how I feel. During this period, I have suspected the wrong people, taken uninformed decisions, had restless moments and now, a part of me has to heal so i don’t take biased decisions on other people, based on this unfortunate incident. …


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Nigeria has one of the largest entrepreneurial workforces on the planet. Over 37million small businesses and counting. Why? Is it in our blood? Is it in the water? Perhaps. But it’s also due to necessity. Nigeria and Nigerians are entrepreneurial because they have to be; there’s no other realistic means of surviving. We work and we build and we adapt as if our lives depended on it. Our country’s overall lack of infrastructure and societal organisation means that the gaps are filled not by the State, but by the people; by entrepreneurs.

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

In terms of technology companies, we’ve seen some really striking and dynamic companies coming through and solving problems / filling the gaps. Need to make or receive online payments? Paystack and Flutterwave exist in this space. Want to watch Africa’s favorite films online? IROKOtv has literally built the entire online Nollywood market from scratch. Want to supplement your children’s education using online activities and up-to-date curricula? Guess what, we have a homegrown solution for that, in the form of uLesson. …


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The Wirecard scandal has brought a dark cloud over the global financial technology space. The company positioned itself as a digital platform in the realm of financial commerce, offering both business clients and consumers a full range of innovative added-value services for digital payments: online, mobile, and at the point of sale. Sounds good. Sounds useful. It seems that they were driving fintech innovation to drive ecommerce and online sales.

However, the former darling of the fintech world has found itself embroiled in fraud, breach of trust, false accounting and market manipulation, to name just a few misdemeanors that have been levelled at the company over the past few years. Between 2011–14, and according to the Financial Times, the German-born company was able to raise €500m from shareholders to buy up “obscure payments companies across Asia in a series of oddly structured deals, starting in Singapore”, which is where it went on to have its Asia HQ. Investors clambered to be in on the buzz of this German uber-fintech [Softbank no less, amongst others]. …


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Before lockdown, I was in London and I popped into the EE mobile phone store to add some data to one of my kids’ mobile phones. Speaking to the sales assistant, we got chatting, he checked my account, and told me that if I shifted to a different tariff, I could save some money

Pause for the catch. Was I obliged to purchase some other device to “unlock this saving”?

Perhaps there was some sort of elaborate insurance product that came with this saving?

Nope. Nothing. No catch. The huge swathes of data EE hold on me revealed my spending habits, and in a matter of seconds, gave the salesperson the nudge to help me reduce my monthly spend — I believe it was by £20/mth or something like that. Not a fortune, but enough to excite me and make me feel that not only was I getting better value for my money, but also that EE valued me as a customer, enough to challenge my spending habits and help me save money via an algorithm/data mining + sales assistant tag team. …

Uzoma Dozie

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