When I left Lagos to move to the United States in 2006, I was excited because had just been admitted into the Wharton School for an MBA. At the same time I had just left behind a promising career, family and friends. As I experienced life in America and trips to Europe, I couldn’t help but see all the gaps that existed back home that would drive businesses and leap Nigeria forward to compete at the global level.
With this conviction, I founded NetPlus in 2011 as a technology company focused on helping businesses derive widespread opportunities and open up new industries in the Nigerian market.
In 2012, we launched WebMall, a marketplace designed to help merchants take full advantage of the cashless drive without the need for huge infrastructure costs. It worked somewhat, but challenges abounded – Nigeria consumers were skeptical about electronic transactions, our support strategy was reactive, payment systems were in their infancy and so much more was stacked against us as a solutions provider.
We kept faith and kept pushing the business – first with my savings, later with seed investments from family and friends, and finally after completing a Series A round led by a private equity fund and a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Since then, we have become a leading merchant services company in Nigeria.
In September 2016, we came across an application call for the Mastercard Global Start Path program. We were excited about the possibility of collaborating with a leading global payment company, being exposed to best-in-class technologies and receiving mentorship by top professionals in our industry. After a rigorous evaluation process including a pitch to an audience of about 1,000 attendees, we were thrilled to be accepted into the sixth wave of the program. We were one of five successful applications out of about 650 in total and the only African business accepted into the program.
Right now, we are realizing the benefit of the Mastercard Start Path program. We recently co-developed a payment solution that has just launched in Nigeria. The Mastercard e-commerce solution empowers the consumer, the e-retailer as well as the delivery service by providing a simple and secure digital solution. Consumers can pre-authorize the payment when placing their order online, the e-retailer is given a sense of comfort and dispatches the goods via a delivery service who is able to use the Mastercard e-commerce app to authorize the release of the payment once the consumer approves, ensuring the merchant is paid immediately.
Although we have a global expansion plan in place, the solution is more specific to developing markets. It has changed our short-term outlook and projections positively as we plan to take our solution outside our core market. This may be the first time an African company is exporting a technology solution to other parts of the world and we are super excited about the opportunity!