Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, defeated governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State was in Abuja on Wednesday where he held ‘closed door’ meeting with leadership of the party.
Ize-Iyamu met with Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who also is the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC.
At the meeting also was the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello. The meeting was the first outing for Ize-Iyamu since he was defeated at last Saturday’s governorship election by Governor Godwin Obaseki, who got a second term.
The National APC had congratulated Obaseki over the victory while the Edo State APC refused to congratulate the governor-elect, rejecting the outcome of the poll.
It is believed that Ize-Iyamu might have been persuaded at the meeting to concede defeat to Obaseki and allowed peace to reign.
Ize-Iyamu had said after losing the election that his supporters endured many evils, including being prevented from voting.
He had assured them that he was studying the results along with other party members and that he would announce his next move soon.
‘I thank and appreciate my supporters, who had to endure many evils including being prevented from voting, for their support and determination during the election.
“I assure you all that I am studying the results along with other party members and will announce my next move soon,” he said.
By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu
If the voting pattern in previous elections in Edo is anything to go by, Edo South Senatorial District, which is the Bini-speaking part of the state, may likely determine the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election.
A detailed study by the non-governmental organisation, YIAGA Africa has given an overview of what to expect, going by the patterns in previous elections.
In 2016, the highest proportion of votes came from Edo South; 49 per cent of the votes cast during that election came from the district.
This is compared to Edo North and Edo Central, with 32 per cent and 19 per cent of the votes cast respectively.
Similarly, in 2019 general elections, 47 per cent of the valid votes cast came from Edo South while Edo North and Edo Central recorded 34.4 per cent and 18.2 per cent respectively.
Six local governments — Oredo, Ikpoba/Okha, and Egor in Edo South and Etsako West, Akoko Edo, and Owan East in Edo North — accounted for half of total votes cast (50 per cent).
Five per cent of total votes cast were declared rejected votes in the 2016 governorship election.
In 2016, the turn out was 32 per cent, while the percentage for 2019 general elections was 28 per cent.
Edo North, with 486,969 registered voters, had 199,500 voters or 41 per cent accredited for the election.
This is in contrast to the situation in Edo South which had the highest voting population.
The district had 1.09 million registered voters then, but only 303,148 or 27.8 per cent of them were accredited to vote during the contest.
Benin City in festive mood ahead of guber poll
By Raymond Mordi
Two days to the governorship election in Edo, the atmosphere on the streets in Benin City, the state capital, is electric.
Security has been deployed in several parts of the city ahead of the contest.
It is evident that an important event is impending.
For instance, the road that leads to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), where the sensitive materials that would be used for the election are being kept, have been cordoned off with traffic restricted to one part of the road.
These developments, in addition to increasing floods caused by torrential rainfall in the city, has led to heavy traffic in different parts of the city.
On Wednesday evening, a group of women spotting a uniform made from ankara fabric, were seen along Federal Avenue, GRA, Benin City, carrying bags with the logo of a particular political party.
One of the passers-by on the street said they had just been mobilised to go out and canvass for votes in their respective areas.
There is heavy vehicular movement on major roads in the capital city, particularly the Airport Road with the increasing influx of people into the state for the election.
PSC to policemen: operate within the law in Edo or…
By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has cautioned police officers deployed for the Edo governorship elections to operate within the law or face sanctions.
It said it has already deployed a high-powered monitoring team to Edo to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties during this Saturday’s election.
According to a statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations of the Commission, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, the team is led by Bar. Rommy Mom, a Commissioner representing the Human Rights Organizations and Austin Braimoh, representing the Media.
The Commission has also released dedicated telephone numbers for complaints and commendation on the conduct of Police during the exercise, Ani said.
“The Commission wishes to advise that all Police Officers on electoral duty in Edo State must operate within the law and rules of engagement as any infractions on the laws/rules guiding election policing by any officer will be investigated and appropriate sanctions given.
“The Commission has however received assurances from the leadership of the Police charged with maintaining peace and order during the election in the state that every security arrangement has been put in place to ensure a hitch free and peaceful polls,” Ani said.
Oredo, Ikpoba/Okha, Egor, Etsako West top in PVCs collection
By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu
An analysis of registered voters and permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) collection rate by the various local governments suggests that Oredo and Ikpoba/Okha have the largest voting population.
According to a study carried out by YIAGA Africa, Ikpoba/Okha has the highest of registered voters, which stands at 315,410.
But, ironically, Oredo which has 313,553 registered voters is leading in terms of PVC collection; 240,197 persons have collected their voters card, against 214,822 for Ikpoba/Okha, which has the highest number of uncollected PVCs.
The two councils are in Edo South Senatorial District.
Egor Local Government, which is also in Edo South, is third in terms of registered voters and PVC collection rate. Egor has 219,832 registered voters, with 158,817 PVCs collected and 73,356 uncollected.
Among the districts with a huge voting population is Etsako West and Akoko Edo, both in Edo North Senatorial District. They have 160,137 and 119,254 registered voters respectively. Akoko Edo has the least percentage of uncollected PVCs in the state. Only 3,911 or 3.2 per cent of PVCs are uncollected in the council. Ova Northeast with 143,009 registered voters also has an appreciable high voting population. Out of the above figure, only 29,842 PVCs are uncollected in the council. Igueben, in Edo Central, is the local government with the least voting population. It has only 46,828 registered voters, with as much as 11,840 or 25.2 per cent uncollected.
Group applauds UK, US decision to sanction election riggers
By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu
An advocacy group, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement Africa (YIAGA) has hailed the decision of the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States’ governments to impose sanctions on Nigerians who undermine the electoral process and invite violence.
The Chairman of YIAGA Africa’s Edo 2020 Election Observation Mission, Dr Aisha Abdullahi made the remark yesterday at a press conference in Benin City, the Edo State capital ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.
Dr Abdullahi said the action of the two countries is consistent with YIAGA Africa’s call on the international community to continually hold political leaders and institutions to account for their commitment to the people and the democratic process.
She said this year’s election is defined by strong-arm tactics and violence.
Her words: “Clearly, the stakes are high in the September 19 governorship election as typified by the state of pre-election violence and the level of desperation on the part of political actors to not only delegitimise the process but ensure they secure political power at all cost.”
The non-governmental organisation, which is dedicated to reforming Nigeria’s election system, classified two-thirds of the 18 local governments in Edo State as hotspots and flash points of violence, due to the frequency of violence, arms proliferation, and a spike in cult groups’ activities in those local councils.
Abdullahi added: “The violence rhetoric and strong-arm tactics employed by the two major parties for campaigns created a tense atmosphere environment and a climate of fear which informed peace talks initiated by the Obaseki of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, and the National Peace Committee headed by the former Head of State, General Abdulsami Abubakar.”
The YIAGA Africa board co-chairman said the group will deploy its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology at the polling units to enhance the credibility or otherwise of the Edo election.
This, she added, would help to provide timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting and counting. Through this method, she said, YIAGA Africa would independently verify official results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The group said it would deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 25 mobile observers located in all the 18 local governments in the state.
PHOTOS: Distribution of electoral materials begins
By Isaac Jimoh Ayodele
PHOTOS: Massive deployment of security in Benin
By Isaac Jimoh Ayodele
Group identifies potential flashpoints of violence
By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu
A non-governmental organisation, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa has identified potential hotspots and flashpoints of violence ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, the Chairman of YIAGA Africa’s Edo 2020 Election Observation Mission, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi said based on the report of the group’s observation carried out ahead of the poll, two-thirds of the local governments in the state are potential flashpoints of violence.
These, she said include Etsako West, Etsako East, Etsako Central, Owan West, and Akoko Edo, all in Edo North Senatorial District.
Others are Oredo, Orhiomwon, Egor, Ovia Northeast, and Ikpoba/Okha in Edo South, as well as Esan Central, Esan Northeast and Esan West in Edo Central.
Dr. Abdullahi said YIAGA Africa’s study suggests that the spare of violence and insecurity in the pre-election period may discourage voters from turning up on Election Day.
She said the state is witnessing a surge in cult groups’ activities, especially in Ikpoba/Okha, Etsako Central, Owan West, Esan West and Ovia Northeast local governments.
She added: “This is mainly attributable to an entrenched subculture of violence built around well-known strongmen, thugs, touts, gangsters, and cultists on the one hand, and widespread belief that elections cannot be won or smooth governance guaranteed without strong-arm tactics and the support of potential thugs.
“The situation is direr because of the proliferation of small arms and other weapons, which is evident in the free use of firearms at campaign venues.”
The group’s report also condemned physical violence towards women in Etsako Central, vandalism or destruction of property belonging to a candidate or his/her supporters in Oredo, Orhiomwon, Igueben, Etsako Central, Esan Northeast, Ikpoba/Okha, Egor, and Esan Southeast local governments.
The Police in Ogun state have arrested a traditional ruler, Rasheed Sholabi for defiling his 15 -year- old daughter, for four years.
Sholabi, who is the head of Oose Agbedu Ajibawo in Owode-Yewa area, was arrested after the daughter reported him at the Owode Egbado Police station.
The daughter stunned the police when she disclosed the man had been having sex with her since she was 11 years-old.
She added that the frequent sexual assault has affected her private part, making it difficult to control her urine.
The girl also told the police she lost her mother when she was two years old.
Ogun Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy superintendent Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the Divisional Police Officer for Owode-Egbado, Olabisi Elebute, led detectives to the traditional ruler’s Palace and arrested him.
The Baale, who initially denied the allegation, fainted later when confronted by the victim and one of his ex-wives, who corroborated the victim’s ordeal.
His ex-wife informed the police she caught him while in the act, explaining it was why she walked out of the union.
The victim has been taken to the Stella Obasanjo Motherless Babies Home, Abeokuta, for safety.
Commissioner of Police Edward Ajogun has ordered the transfer of the suspect to anti-human trafficking and child labour unit of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) for further investigation and diligent prosecution.—The Nation
By Ed Zimmerman & Betsy Zimmerman (with Maya Horgan Famodu): FORBES.COM
In launching Ingressive Capital and doubling assets under management (AUM) from $5 Million to $10 Million, Maya Horgan Famodu has set a number of records. She is believed to be the youngest Black woman to launch a tech fund, and the youngest person to launch a tech fund in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is the first solo woman to have raised a tech fund in Nigeria. In fact, Maya’s $10 million venture fund,Ingressive Capital, may well be the largest first-time tech fund raised by a solo Black woman GP in all of venture.
This interview and background about Maya and her firm is timely for numerous reasons, not the least of which is her recent fundraise to invest in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt.
We met Maya in early 2019 and soon afterwards invested in Ingressive. We were not, at the time, looking to add a Nigerian fund to our portfolio, but Maya is a force of nature.
Half-Nigerian and half-Minnesotan, Maya grew up in Minnesota, completed undergrad at Pomona College, went on to Cornell University’s Prelaw Program, and briefly worked in finance at JPMorgan in New York.
In 2014, she moved to Lagos and attempted to launch her first fund, but with barely a year of work experience, investors swiftly declined. She forged a path into deal-making by first launching Ingressive Advisory, providing “market entry services and tech research for corporates and investors.” (Source: Forbes). Since its founding, Ingressive Advisory has recruited top global investors and tech companies to expand into or invest in Nigeria, further developing the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Ingressive Advisory eventually expanded its services to providing one- to two-year subscriptions for outsourced services in Africa for its billion-dollar+ tech company clients. Nigeria became one of its clients’ highest-growth markets.
“We started leading global investors to Africa before tech was a thing here,” Maya explains, “back when questions were less ‘how many M&A deals have occurred in the African market this year?’ and more ‘do Africans even have internet and electricity?’ It was necessary to not only change the Africa narrative to focus on its incredible innovations and opportunities, but also sell a future few imagined.”
Maya later co-founded (with her Ingressive colleague, Sean Burrowes) Ingressive for Good, a nonprofit providing scholarships, technical training and talent placement for African youth.
It is clear though, that the heart of Maya’s professional life is Ingressive Capital, the venture firm, which she launched in 2017, to invest directly in tech startups across Africa.
“We are building a pipeline from the time a student thinks ‘I want to be in tech’ all the way to the time they IPO. Ingressive’s family of businesses grow and sustain the African ecosystem from the beginning ‘til the end of a techie’s journey,” Maya explains.
Ingressive provides a great example of the valuable synergy in which an early market participant materially helps with community building efforts, which both develops the market and entrenches their position within it.
Several of Ingressive Advisory’s clients—venture firms and their execs—invested in Maya’s fund. In fact, approximately 80% of those who invested into Ingressive Capital’s venture fund are people who run the world’s leading venture capital and private equity funds, or the firms themselves, which Maya says “gives African portfolio companies access to global funding and business development.”
It is noteworthy that the doubling of her fund’s AUM adds a high-profile fund-of-funds (Plexo Capital) and also indicates that Nigeria is formally investing in its own startup ecosystem, as “new investors include the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority” (Source: Quartz). Building a roster of institutional investors is the way venture capital firms themselves become enduring institutions.
Lo Toney, Founder of Plexo Capital, says: “Plexo Capital invested as an LP into Ingressive Capital because of our belief in the African startup ecosystem and the ability of Maya and the Ingressive Capital team to source the best deals and work with those entrepreneurs to deliver superior returns.”
Still under 30, Maya has established a robust global network, raised money from some of the biggest names in venture capital and sovereign wealth funds, and deployed capital into startups that have subsequently received uprounds led by TenCent and Stripe, among others. Not surprisingly, Maya was named to Forbes’s “Under 30 Technology” list (2018), as well as “10 Inspiring Women Ruling Nigeria’s Tech Ecosystem” (2019).
Africa Emerging as Hotbed of VC
Africa has itself become something of a hotbed of venture capital activity. As Partech, a venture firm based in Paris, San Francisco, Berlin and Dakar, reported in its annual Venture Capital Africa Report (Jan. 2020), Africa saw “+52% growth YoY in deal count,” with 37% of funding going to Nigeria:
“Africa's tech ecosystem has moved into the mainstream, transforming economies considerably, and while there are certain ups and downs to be expected in the future, this new reality is also redefining the scope of Private Equity on the continent, with Venture Capital on the way to becoming the number one asset class in Africa.”
Soon after doubling Ingressive’s AUM, Maya agreed to an interview with us (below) on her journey, and advice for others launching a VC fund.
Ed Zimmerman/Betsy Zimmerman (EZ/BZ): You founded Ingressive’s VC firm in 2017. How long was it until Ingressive first closed on LP capital? Can you tell us about the process of getting to a first close?
Maya Horgan Famodu (MHF): There’s this pervasive and entirely inaccurate belief in venture capital that keeps more people from participating. It’s the belief that you have to have a big-ticket anchor investor to set the terms and fill a meaningful percentage of your target fund size to start. I took extremely “vanilla” documents and shopped them to high net worth individuals (HNIs). Over the course of a year of gathering 6-digit individual commitments, this group cumulatively became the size that would constitute a single “anchor LP.” We didn’t close our first $1M until about a year after that.
I have a list of every investor I pitched — about 375 investors. I did 375 straight pitches.
On average, I landed about 10% — 1 in every 10 investors I spoke to committed to the fund. It’s honestly a numbers game that most people can achieve if they stay resilient—provided you have unique access to deal flow and can prove you’re a good “picker” with a promising strategy.
When I tried to launch a fund at 23 with a year of work experience, nobody committed. But I maintained contact with the investors to whom I had pitched. I made sure that they knew about every major update, every press mention, and every company in which Ingressive had invested that then went on to succeed.
Half of our investors backed us because they learned over time that I could see something years ahead. The other half backed us believing I’m the most headstrong and persistent person they know and will never give up until I hit my target. I used to be offended when people called me “persistent,” but it’s actually a differentiator that has contributed majorly to my success. Stick it out, keep your network close and stay in touch, and keep learning constantly, especially from your mistakes.
EZ/BZ: So, you set out in 2014 intending to raise a venture fund? How did that evolve?
MHF: Yes, I actually did. But barely a year out of college, I didn’t make it very far.
Ingressive originally started because I wanted to raise a $50M VC fund and when investors declined, I realized I needed another route to my end goal. So, we launched Ingressive Advisory to show our deal flow without taking the funds upfront. I basically pitched to global investors: ‘Africa is booming, and I know the great opportunities. Come with me to Nigeria, and I’ll show you the best deals. Then YOU choose whether you want to invest and do your deals directly.’ That expanded to corporates as well.
It worked, and a lot of people invested. Every trip we ever did, clients made investments and expanded their strategies to include Africa.
Eventually, some of those who traveled to Nigeria with me had enough data points and invested in Ingressive.
EZ/BZ: What would you advise others who are interested in doing the same?
MHF: If you want to be around for a long time, don’t skimp on professional services. You need experienced and industry-respected legal, fund admin, tax and auditors. Don’t be scared off by the public price tag; there are typically tiers, so you can make it work with what you have.
Go with name brands—they will only strengthen your pitch and make investors more comfortable. We started out with a one-man-shop accounting firm and spent the next year fixing what they had done. Now, we only use household names for our professional services, and those names not only add to our pitch, but they serve as experienced thought partners and advisors, ensuring we are set up with best policies and practices to institutionalize our VC.
EZ/BZ: What were some of the early wins that led you to conclude that you could turn Ingressive from a data-centric client service firm to a VC firm?
MHF: People started making money from the deals we had found them.
Also, our tech company clients started seeing massive growth in the regions across Africa where we were running programs and producing research on their behalf.
The money flowing into Africa’s tech sector went from $129M in 2016 to $560M in 2017 to $1.2B in 2018 and over $2 Billion in 2019. Andreessen Horowitz backed Zipline (see disclosure at end) and Branch, both targeting African markets. Facebook launched programs for startups and developers, and after Sundar Pichai’s (CEO of Alphabet and its subsidiary, Google) visit, Google Launchpad Africa kicked off. Y Combinator most actively, followed by 500 Startups and Techstars, quickly increased the Nigerian and African startups in their cohorts. Greycroft, WTI and many others started doing many deals on the continent, and GV backed Andela—to name a few promising moves. Something was really taking off.
EZ/BZ: What dynamics of the African tech / venture markets most surprise and impress U.S. venture investors and limited partners?
MHF: It’s not one thing. There are several:
· There is 93%+ mobile penetration and over 650 million mobile users, which is more than the US and UK combined.
· We have the youngest population with an estimated 41% of Africa’s 1.3 Billion people currently under 15 years old, and 75% of the population now under 35. (source: Population.Un.Org)
· Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos (with the Lagos state), has 21 million of Nigeria’s 200 million people (source: CFR 2019). So the population of Lagos is roughly 2.4x the size of America’s biggest city, New York City (source: NYC.gov).
· The resilience of the African entrepreneur: once US investors come to the continent and see the daily challenges of the average African entrepreneur, and the Nigerian entrepreneurs’ ceaseless work ethic, it’s hard to go back home to Silicon Valley and compare.
· Same with the types of deals. On the continent, you’re investing in 0 to 1 technology—stuff that fundamentally changes or saves people’s lives. It’s hard to go back to hearing pitches for “it’s Uber, but for pets” after that.
· In 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported on research conducted by Rice University demonstrating that Nigerians are the most educated nationality in the US. Wherever we go, we must achieve ceaselessly. Before, families only saw their offspring’s success as multiple higher-education degrees. Increasingly now, though, given the raises and the opportunities and the liquidity events, pursuing tech is becoming a socially-acceptable endeavor.
· Achieving liquidity happens regularly through seeking (1) a specific customer base or (2) in-market players seeking tech (Interswitch acquiring Vanso), or (3) foreign acquirers using local players as a market entry play. For example, Uber acquired Careem for $3.1 Billion (source: BusinessWire Jan. 2020), and (4) listing publicly (in the West) is a reality. In roughly the last year, between the stock exchanges in London, New York and Toronto these African startups have gone public: Jumia (on NYSE, source: TechCrunch), Helios Towers (source: Reuters), and (coming soon!) Interswitch (source: TechCrunch), not to mention the deal between Helios Holding and Fairfax Africa Holdings (source: GlobeNewsWire).
· Westerners don’t realize that Nigeria has billionaires (source: Oxfam 2017), millionaires, and tech-enabled cities with massive skyscrapers, free trade zones, drone delivery systems and fiber optics. Westerners also struggle to understand the opportunity — before COVID, consumer spending hit $1.4 trillion across the continent in 2015 (source: McKinsey & Company 2017), “with three countries—South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt—contributing more than half of that total.” We have the fastest-growing middle classes in the world in Africa, and typically at least 3 of the 10 fastest-growing economies (see, e.g., IMF tracker of annual growth of real GDP).
· You can still build high-growth companies in countries where per capita GDP is below $5,000. That opportunity still exists now, but it’s typically low-margin, high-volume businesses. mPesa (mobile phone-based money transfer service) transacts half of Kenya’s GDP annually. You can make money in Africa, but business models have to shift and execution is entirely different. There are still many untapped billion-dollar opportunities. For those targeting the middle class of Africa, the opportunity is only growing along with this demographic.
· Also, people are surprised by how different each African country’s culture and consumer demographics are. Even when launching products from one market to the other. For example, the Lagos consumer demographic is by reputation assertive, flashy, tech-enabled and online, but somewhat fearful of transacting digitally. And Nigerian regulation around financial services and mobility is incredibly volatile, as is Nigerian currency. Just next door, I would characterize the typical consumer in Accra, Ghana as calmer — placing greater priority on joie de vivre and family time — which more closely mirrors Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire or select South-Eastern African cities. Ghana’s and Rwanda’s startup regulations are celebrated for being pioneering, and Ghana’s Cedi was just ranked the best-performing currency in the world against the U.S dollar. (Source: Bloomberg News).
· As you move from nation to nation within Africa, there’s a range in GDP. For context, China’s per capita GDP is $9,770 USD. South Africa’s per capita GDP is $6,364. Botswana’s is $8,258—while neighboring Mozambique’s is around $550. The consumer preferences, socioeconomics, cultures, infrastructure development, even government systems and political tenures vary massively from country to country across Africa.
EZ/BZ: You’ve run major events in Africa. We’re in a time of limited travel. How has this impacted your events and sources of deal flow/uprounds?
As far as our deals, we’ve actually closed more deals during COVID than we did in previous quarters. We’ve also just closed our largest investment to date. Diligence was entirely conducted via Zoom.
There are a number of proxies for “gut instinct” or “trust” that before, came from sitting with a founder or spending time in a company’s office. In actuality, the COVID-era additional diligence metrics we’ve incorporated like more customer, investor and competitor reference checks makes the investment process not only more objective, but much more efficient.
We fortunately have a network of 10,000+ developers across Africa. We leverage this, as well as our co-investment and venture partners, hubs, (now virtual) pitch competitions, and fortunately, in-bound outreach. There are only a few very active pre-seed and seed stage investors in our markets, and anyone can apply for funding on our website, so founders typically know where to reach us.
EZ/BZ: Your advisor roster is impressive and it’s also heavily American. It include Seth Levine, Managing Director of Foundry Group; Kai Bond, Partner of Courtside Ventures; and Maurice Werdegar, President and CEO of WTI, among others. How and why did you enlist those particular advisors? Why is the U.S. so important to your fund and its companies?
MHF: I sought investors I liked as people, from whom I learn something new and practical every time we speak, and who have decades of investment experience and a connection to the continent.
The African tech venture capital industry is not even a decade old, so we looked to have investors with extensive tech VC experience, as well as investors who know the African market and its economic cycles well through decades of African private equity investing.
Regarding your latter question, Nigerian tech and African venture capital generally is perceived as the unknown side of a high-risk investment class. When I started, African investors were less keen; wealth had only really been generated in traditional industry or telecommunications. Intangible tech (aka software), pre-revenue businesses, even young and/or inexperienced founders were absolute no-go’s.
The US is important to our fund because it was mainly Silicon Valley investors and exited entrepreneurs who had the risk appetite to get involved at our beginning, before tech in Africa was cool. Once they started realizing returns or major traction from investments, they told their peers, and US-backed African tech grew.
Eventually, the African ecosystem will stand on its own feet, as exits will seed the next generation of startups. We’re starting to see this now with investors such as Jason Njoku, founder of iROKO Partners; Gbenga Oyebode, Nigeria’s most prominent lawyer and serial businessman, known also for his role in MTN Nigeria; and Mitchell Elegbe, MD/CEO at Interswitch and a known tech acquirer.
Until then, though, companies raising more than $500k inevitably begin to have foreign investors on their cap table, as foreign investors are still a meaningful source of seed and growth stage financing and typically have deeper pockets.
EZ/BZ: You didn’t grow up in Africa. Why did you decide to relocate there and when did you decide to do that?
MHF: My dad and a number of his brothers moved from Ogun State, Nigeria to Minneapolis, Minnesota for higher education. Almost all of them, including my father, started families with Minnesotan women. Eventually, a number of them went back to Nigeria.
My older sister and I grew up in rural Minnesota with my mother, and my younger siblings grew up in Lagos with my father.
We were so poor when I was a kid. We lived in a trailer park and truly struggled to put food on the table until I was in my teens. It couldn’t have been farther away, but many poverty dynamics of rural America are actually quite similar to those in Lagos.
I decided to move to Lagos for a few reasons. There’s a magnetic calling that I found most millennial “returnees” experience, idolizing the continent and feeling a deep-seated responsibility to change Africa for the better.
There are 1.3 Billion people, most in their teens or younger. There is 25% youth unemployment (see, e.g. Reuters showing 23% national unemployment in Q3 2018). Most African nations are still fighting to regain control of their financial systems, currency, and natural resources due to the lasting tethers of colonization.
Things can either go really well for this generation, if there are sufficient training and employment opportunities available we can end up with a generation of high-skilled techies, but things can also go dangerously wrong.
When I worked at JPMorgan and then in private equity research, I used to be kept up at night thinking about this, and about how I was using my access and abilities. It was just something to which I had to commit myself — as trite as it sounds, this is my purpose.
Not only do I have an obligation to generate economic activity on the continent, but I have an obligation to use my access to empower the next generation of African innovators.
I have over a decade of competitive performance dance experience, including captaining dance teams and performing in an off-Broadway play. Not only did this prepare me for public speaking and presenting in front of thousands, but it’s helped me to understand creative industry investing, and how to maintain composure/project confidence on stage or in a boardroom.
EZ/BZ: You spent Q2 of 2020 launching a nonprofit, Ingressive for Good (I4G); making four new investments; and closing additional LPs to double your fund size, all during a pandemic. Did you set out with an ambitious plan to do all of that?
MHF: It always makes me laugh when people only see the end result. It’s a case of the “ten-year overnight success.” We are most certainly a six-year overnight success. Ask any of our investors, or anyone in the ecosystem who knows me or our team. The overwhelming comments I’ve received distill down to: “it’s been a long time coming,” and “you finally got there!”
EZ/BZ: How are you thinking about the interplay between your nonprofit and your venture firm?
MHF: Ingressive for Good and Ingressive Capital are completely separate entities run by separate teams with distinct missions. They do not work directly together. However, they target complimentary parts of the ecosystem and Ingressive for Good programs create tech talent, provide resources for them and increase their earning power, which of course benefits the rest of the ecosystem.
Ingressive for Good provides micro-scholarships, tech training and talent placement for African youth. Its micro-scholarships pay computer science degree fees at African universities that produce employment-ready talent. They also sponsor African youth’s technical products such as a laptop or other tools, as well as online technology courses. The tech training is in partnership with top local organizations who’ve proven they produce employment-ready talent. The talent placement happens once youth complete programs and get places at startups across Africa. The purpose of the organization is to increase the earning power of African youth and decrease unemployment.
Ingressive Capital invests in pre-seed and seed stage technology companies in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt, and we provide our companies with access to international capital as well as Pan-African business development through our own programs as well as our network of limited partners.
EZ/BZ: Are you still helping large corporate clients enter/approach the SSA market?
MHF: We do this opportunistically through Ingressive.co.
EZ/BZ: Your companies have terrific things to say about you:
“It's been really great working with Maya. I love the fact that she's able to support us without distracting us. She's really great at helping and advocating for us in the background. When she makes an introduction to a prospective partner or customer, the conversation is so easy because she's already done the hard work of convincing them on our behalf and all we need to do is just to close the deal.” Shola Akinlade, Co-Founder of Paystack
"Our company fuelmetrics, with its focus on enterprise customers (gas station owners and fleet operators) requires smart investment that goes beyond just funding. Maya and Ingressive has provided us with such investment over the past year. Strategic industry relationships were brokered by Ingressive capital, which has had significant impact on our growth " Ayodeji Ogundiran, Co-Founder of FuelMetrics
Please talk about a few of the companies in your portfolio.
Another, Bamboo, is giving everyday Africans unrestricted access to invest in global capital markets. 99% of Nigeria’s investing population doesn’t have access to global markets, and Bamboo allows those in Nigeria and now other African nations to buy and sell foreign stocks and ETFs in real time.
We also backed Vesicash, which provides secure digital escrow services for Africa, and OZÉ, which enables “small businesses and local ownership to grow with technology, particularly in emerging markets” (Source: OZÉ).
EZ/BZ: You recently wrote a very personal blogpost about meeting your father. How has the reaction been?
After we closed the fund, I decided to run it by a number of my investors. I was surprised by how supportive they were; everyone unanimously told me to share it, and that those who would be put off by such a truth would not be people I could or would want to sustainably work with anyway.
It was a relief — and honestly, has only strengthened our work and inspired others who, like me, thought a “perfect background” was a prerequisite for success in business, especially VC.
When I published, I received a flood of “me too” and “I needed your advice” personal stories by email and private message. It just reminded me that we all put on the face we think we should have, and it’s actually a competitive advantage to be authentically and proudly yourself. It provides more space for others with your background to believe that they can succeed and to see how they can succeed.
My father is a pastor in Nigeria and we’re close now. He is proud of me for sharing my story.
DISCLOSURE: Ed & Betsy Zimmerman are investors in funds managed by Ingressive Capital and some of the other venture firms mentioned in the above. Ed Zimmerman is a partner at the law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP, which serves (from time to time) as counsel to certain of the venture capital firms and/or companies and/or individuals mentioned above.
 The same article, citing Rice University research, also notes: “Although they make up a tiny portion of the U.S. population, a whopping 17 percent of all Nigerians in this country held master's degrees while 4 percent had a doctorate, according to the 2006 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 37 percent had bachelor's degrees."
Gbenga Omokhunu, Nicholas Kalu, Abuja, Toba Adedeji, Osogbo, Osagie Otabor, Akure and Precious Igbonwelundu/ THE NATION
•25 charged in Lagos • DSS holds Bakare, six others in Osun •‘Why police didn’t disrupt Ondo march’ •SERAP condemns attack on protesters
SECURITY personnel on Wednesday arrested scores of #RevolutionNow protesters in some parts of the country for various offences.
The protesters had taken to the streets of Lagos; Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Osogbo, the Osun State capital and Ore, in Ondo State, to express misgivings about some happenings in the land.
They appeared angry about what they called increasing insecurity, festering corruption, the poor state of the education and health sectors as well as sundry issues, as expressed in their placards.
Many of them were held for breaching the COVID-19 protocols; others were arrested for alleged acts of violence.
In Abuja, over 40 protesters who were arrested by the joint security personnel at Unity Fountain in Maitama area for violating the COVID-19 protocols were brought before an FCT Mobile Court for prosecution.
But Magistrate Idayat Akanni, who was to preside over the matter, had other cases in another court and could not sit.
Speaking on behalf of the FCT Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19, Ikharo Attah said Nigerians have the right to protest but must do so within the ambit of the law and COVID-19 protocols.
General Secretary of United Action for Democracy and a leading member of #TakeItBack Movement, Kunle Ajayi said: “We are here to lead the revolution and protest for free functional and standard education at all levels, free functional and advanced healthcare. A very good example is under the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are not working, doctors are on strike, a lot of things are wrong with the country. We decided to mobilise community by community, street by street, for people to come out and tell the government that enough is enough.”
Security operatives took over the Unity Fountain to forestall likely breakdown of law and order.
In Lagos, security operatives arrested 22 protesters who were demanding actions against insecurity, bad governance and corruption.
The protesters were arrested at Ikeja Underbridge around 9 a.m, about an hour after hundreds of youths converged on the venue for a peaceful protest.
Chanting solidarity songs and displaying placards with inscriptions, such as “Nigerians are sick and tired of poverty, corruption, injustice and untimely death; say no to injustice; yes, to living wage for unemployed youths…”, the protesters kicked against politicians and their cronies who they said were less than one per cent of the nation’s population and were running the country on autopilot.
They decried the alarming insecurity; unemployment, hunger, increase in taxation and the plan to review education budget downwards.
The protest did not last as security operatives dispersed the protesters.
It was leant that residents heading to the protest venues at Apongbon, Oworonshoki, Ikorodu and Epe were chased away.
Condemning the action of the security operatives, a Co-convener of Coalition for Revolution (CORE), Gbenga Komolafe said such attacks would not deter the protesters.
Although most of the protesters arrested in Abuja and Kano were later released, Komolafe said their Lagos colleagues were beaten up and later whisked to Area F Police Command, Ikeja.
Efforts by our correspondent to get reactions from Force Headquarters spokesman Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) were unsuccessful.
But Lagos Police Command spokesman Bala Elkana said 25 protesters were arrested and charged to court.
He said they were arrested for obstructing traffic and concealing the number plates on their vehicles.
The spokesman denied allegations that some of the protesters were assaulted, adding that it was also untrue they were tear-gassed.
Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested a leader of the protesters in Osun State, Olawale Bakare, and six others in Osogbo.
Some of the others were identified as: Abiodun Sanusi, Samuel Olowofela, Gift, Martin and Okunlola.
The protesters, who converged on the popular Ola-Iya Junction, started their march around 10 a.m, armed with placards with several inscriptions.
Policemen were on hand to maintain law and order as they stationed their patrol vans in the area.
Around 10.30 a.m, Bakare left the other protesters and went to the Correspondents’ Chapel office near the venue of the protest to issue a statement to reporters.
DSS operatives arrested two of the protesters and, spotting Bakare, went after him.
When the other protesters saw what happened, they ran away to escape arrest.
The operatives arrested more protesters around the junction and whisked them away.
In Ondo State, police spokesman Tee-Leo Ikoro, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), said they did not touch the protesters who marched on Ore because they were peaceful.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) condemned the arrest of the protesters in Lagos, Abuja, Osogbo and other parts of the country.
In a statement by its Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “By failing to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks, Nigerian authorities have blatantly violated their obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
Nobel literature laureate writes letter of solidarity marking Bala’s 100th day in detention, saying his supporters ‘will not rest until you are free and safe’
The Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who was held as a political prisoner in Nigeria in the 1960s, has written a letter of solidarity to the detained Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala on his 100th day in detention.
Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested on 28 April at his home in Kaduna state, and taken to neighbouring Kano state. He is accused of posting comments that were critical of Islam on Facebook, and has been charged under state law with violating a religious offence law and with cybercrime. He has not been heard from since the day of his arrest. His wife Amina Mubarak, with whom he has a newborn son, told the Guardian in July: “At this point, I’m not even begging for his release, I just want his proof of life.”
Soyinka, who was held as a political prisoner in Nigeria for 22 months in the late 1960s, smuggling his poems out of prison on toilet paper, told Bala that he imagined him “pacing your cell, just as I have done. Feeling with each passing day, the added strain.
“But I know too, that with each passing day you will reach further into your reserves – reserves that you have always thought finite – and discover strength of which you had never dreamed,” writes Soyinka in the letter, which is published by Humanists International.
“I write today to tell you that you are not alone, there is a whole community across the globe that stands beside you and will fight for you. We will not rest until you are free and safe.”
Bala is the son of a widely regarded Islamic scholar. He renounced Islam in 2014, and his family in Kano forcibly committed him to a psychiatric facility for 18 days before he was discharged. He has been an outspoken critic of religion in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, where open religious dissent is uncommon.
Soyinka, who won the Nobel prize in literature in 1986, said that Bala had stood firm in his convictions: “You have lived. You have stood against the tide of religious imperialism. You have fought for all Humanity, to ensure a better, fairer, world for all. You have not sought to appease those that treasure scrolls. You have not bowed to pressure to revere their unseen deities.”
A group of UN human rights experts have called on Nigeria to release Bala, saying that his arrest and detention “amounts to persecution of non-believers in Nigeria”. Humanists International has led a campaign for his release.
“Mubarak Bala has been detained for long enough,” said Humanists International president Andrew Copson. “For 100 days, our colleague and friend has been held captive, without charge or access to his lawyer, in what can only be perceived at this point as a flagrant violation of his human rights. Our calls remain unchanged, release him immediately and unconditionally.”
The West African Examination Council, WAEC, has released the timetable for the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE.
A statement issued by WAEC’s Head of Public Affairs, Demianus Ojijeogu, urged candidates to disregard other timetable in circulation.
According to the statement, WAEC, Nigeria wished to inform its stakeholders-schools, parents and candidate-that the Final International Timetable for the conduct of WASSCE for School Candidates, 2020 had been released.
The Council noted that several versions of the examination timetable had been in circulation and enjoined the general public to disregard them as they did not emanate from it.
“The examination which has been slated to begin on Monday, August 17, 2020 will end on Saturday, September 12, 2020,” the statement said.
"Being a new school, we only have a certain amount of savings to float us for the first and second year until the school becomes successful.
"At the moment our staff - security, cleaners, nannies and administrative staff - are all on full salary. I've told them I will cut their salaries by 50% to prepare for the worst, but I expect to cut salaries by around 30%.
"There were four more people - a teacher, teaching assistants and a receptionist - whose three-month probation period ended in April. We told them that we would come back to them when the school resumes. If they do, I will have to renegotiate salaries because I can no longer pay them what we agreed.
"All the parents who have registered for September still aim to come - that's four more children. But my biggest fear is that we may not open then.
"I've thought about closing the school down. If the pandemic goes on for another year the school will not be able to survive. The rent is very expensive here, on one of the prime commercial streets in Lagos. I would not be able to make my rent in the third year if we don't open in September.
"Today, yes the virus is still here, yes everyone is still scared, but people are a little bit more relaxed. The economy is my biggest fear in Nigeria."
Papa Omotayo: MOE+ and A Whitespace Creative Agency
Twenty-five full-time staff working from home. Architectural and visual arts projects continue with fewer-than-usual construction workers on site.
Everybody's a little bit sick and tired of zoom calls and team calls. We're definitely not as efficient"
"The response from my clients has been to put a lot of things on hold.
"Everybody's trying to figure out how it's going to affect them as individuals and organisations. Hopefully, the majority of projects will come back.
"I think that the uncertainty is going to last for quite a while. I'm definitely feeling the difficulties.
"[If] you look at the cost of things now compared to months ago it's in some cases almost double, so that hardship is going to be felt dramatically.
"People's earnings are going down because a lot of businesses are having to scale back because of the pandemic so it's tough times.
"We made the conscious decision not to get rid of staff [to] keep a great team.
"But we have to discuss with staff how we can look at off-setting certain expenses and moving them to a later period in the year.
"I would say we're operating [at] 50% productivity at best, but I think that's also to do with the nature of the type of work that we do.
"You can't just walk over to someone's desk to check up on what's going on.
"Everybody's a little bit sick and tired of zoom calls and team calls. We're definitely not as efficient."
Ndidi Nwuneli: AACE Foods
Employs 80 staff. Processes and distributes spices, seasonings and flour.
Nigerians are embracing locally sourced products"
"My food business is classed as essential, so when lockdown happened we sent letters of exemption to our staff so they could get to work and transport their products.
"But I have to tell you that it wasn't easy. Many of them faced harassment by police for the first two days, which we reported to the government authorities.
"Some of our staff were even attacked - that was a challenge. The government was very responsive and the challenges eased over time.
"To ensure social distancing, we had to reduce the number of people working at any given time. So we split everyone into A and B teams - who worked one week on, one week off.
"We had to reduce capacity to about 50%, but also our output, which meant that we could not enjoy the sales.
Former Minister of Science and Technology, Major General Sam Momah (Rtd.) is dead.
He died on Wednesday afternoon after complicated diabetic issues.
Momah’s death came after celebrating his 77th birthday on July 6 during which he launched his 13th book titled: “Restructuring to save Nigeria from post-oil disintegration.”
His death was confirmed in a tweet by Lifeline Care Association, a not-for-profit organisation offering free emergency rescue services to victims of road traffic accidents, where Momah was serving as a Grand Patron.
“We regret to announce the passing of our Grand Patron, Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Sam Momah (rtd.) – the father to our Founder, Dr. Nkem Momah. His passing occurred yesterday,” the tweet reads.
“His many contributions and unflinching commitment to the growth of our Charity and service to the nation at large will forever be cherished.
“We kindly request your prayers for his peaceful repose and consolation to the family at this time. May God grant his gentle soul eternal rest by His side. Amen!”
The one- time Adjutant General and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command was also the pioneer Director at National War College.
He is survived by a wife, children, and grandchildren.