Paga, Nigeria’s leading mobile money company, has closed a $10 million growth financing led by the Global Innovation Fund.
Also participating in the round were existing investors Goodwell (managed by Alitheia Capital), Adlevo Capital, Omidyar Network and Unreasonable Capital. This new financing brings the total Paga has raised since inception in 2009 to $35 million.
The company commenced commercial operations in August 2012 and recently revealed that since then it has served 9 million customers and created over 10,000 jobs through its 17,000 agents who hire staff to run their stores.
“GIF is proud to lead Paga’s Series B2 round,” said Alix Peterson Zwane, GIF’s CEO. “Paga’s mission of helping people ‘make life possible” aligns with our core mission of supporting entrepreneurs and innovators that seek to improve the lives of those living on less than $5 per day. I am pleased that GIF will help enable Paga’s next phase.”
Nigeria is one of the fastest growing emerging markets in the world, and the biggest economy in Africa with $405 billion GDP.
Nigeria currently has a population of 186 million but is expected to become the 3rd largest country in the world (behind India and China) by 2050 with 411 million people. In Nigeria today, over 100 million adults find it difficult to transfer or leverage money for basic human needs.
This problem is one that exists even for those that are banked, and is something Paga’s team is passionate about solving.
The growth financing announced today will enable Paga further scale its business in Nigeria to drive the growth of Paga’s mobile wallet and agent network, and explore expansion opportunities in other markets where similar problems exist.
“Our belief in Paga as an effective platform to drive financial inclusion is unwavering,” says ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Partner at Alitheia Capital, “Paga has shown solid progress, and alongside other investments in our portfolio has played a huge role in our ability to demonstrate that enabling access to essential services for the broad population has both significant financial and developmental impact.”
Paga’s massive transformative purpose is “To make it simple for one billion people to access and use money.” With a nationwide network of 17,000 agents and more than 9 million users accessing funds in Nigeria, Paga is making strides by enabling efficient digital payments and building successful societies.
This has translated to over 57 million transactions processed worth approximately $3.6 billion, a business that is profitable and growing at 110% compounded annual growth rate (2016-2018).
“At Paga, we are building an ecosystem that enables people to digitally send and receive money, and creating simple financial access for everyone,” explains Tayo Oviosu, “We do not seek to be a bank, but rather to partner with banks and financial institutions in the markets we operate.
“We are proud to welcome the Global Innovation Fund as a partner on our journey. We were attracted to them because of their global focus, network to help us achieve our ambition and a clear alignment of values.
“It is also fantastic that our existing investors remain committed to our strategy and are demonstrating that by their additional investments.”
Paga’s mission is strengthened by the recent release of Paga’s new money transfer app that will drive use of the Paga wallet for person-to-person transfers and in-store payments.
In a country where digital financial services still leave much to be desired, Paga is staking a claim at being the Venmo of Nigeria. With cash still being king in emerging markets, and the general unreliability of POS services coupled with the sparsely located Banks and ATM’s, the company has created a viable solution for ease of payments: a simple app that allows you to send money to or request money from anyone only using their phone number or email address and a digital wallet to which you can link any debit card or bank account. In this sense, Paga is acting as a facilitator to provide a swift and reliable payment gateway for your already existing financial accounts.
This reinforces the idea that Paga is seeking to be the reliable access point to all relevant financial services for all people.
The core ethos of the Paga brand is “Making Life Possible”, so the decision to provide free money transfers was driven by the underlying desire to solve basic human needs and to ease the pain of not only person to person payments but payments for small to medium businesses, especially those trading through social media channels.
According to the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index, Nigeria ranks 12th in Africa for entrepreneurship, even with its uniquely challenging environment.
The high unemployment rate forces its citizens to be creative in order to thrive, and cultural barriers which sometimes prevent access to education and traditional workspaces means that a higher percentage of these entrepreneurs are female.
The company, which prides itself in aiding economic empowerment for less advantaged citizens, particularly in empowering women, notes that women are some of the highest performing agents.
Paga also prides itself on providing opportunities for small businesses to grow and create even more employment opportunities for others.
Nigeria is not the final frontier – Paga has already noted an important trend: the problem they are solving also exists in other markets. The platform is scalable and multi-currency, and the company has already begun considering opportunities in large countries such as Ethiopia, Mexico and the Philippines.
The growing tech ecosystem in Africa is garnering international notice, as evidenced by Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Lagos and the opening of the Facebook tech hub; not too far from Paga’s office in an area that has been dubbed “Yabacon Valley”, and the exportation of African tech can be a big driver for the economy.