How technology solutions can be applied smartly in Nigeria and internationally – with Yele Bademosi – Part 2

‘My vision is a talented African in every global business. I genuinely believe that the job you have and how much you get paid should not be a function of where you are. This is sort of where crypto excels.’

So we are back with part two of Yele Bademosi’s episode on “How technology solutions can be applied smartly in Nigeria” but this time, we focus on how tech start-ups can scale internationally.

 

Q: How can tech start-ups scale internationally?

I think that’s quite tough. There are very few companies that have international customers which is a shame because I sometimes wonder why entrepreneurs do not start out thinking like “Okay, I want to build a product for the global market” because one of my investment thesis which I have not really seen anyone do yet, is that there are a lot of products that people spend hundreds of dollars for and the product works but the price point of that software is ridiculously high and it’s high because these companies have a very high-cost base. They have US-based employees. There is just like a basic cost of running the business which means that they are spending way more than what a similar team in Africa will be doing.

 

So for me, I’m very interested in businesses that will look at software as a service product or something that people are paying subscription-based business and sort of like let African founders and entrepreneurs build these alternatives and get the users to shift. We have seen it in the automotive industry, right? You know you had cars that are being manufactured in the US, then China and Japan started producing stuff because there was a job to be done, people switched from American cars to Japanese cars.

 

So, when I see how software plays, I wonder why aren’t we building our own fast companies and I know for a fact that I’m going to be more vocal about this thesis so that these are the companies I would love to fund. So, I think to kind of circle back to your question and answer specifically, if you’re building for the global market, it’s very different. I think it’s very difficult for you to say ‘Oh, I’m starting off in Nigeria and I plan to expand globally’ unless you are solving a uniquely global problem. 

 

Q: What is one pressing social problem in Nigeria you think technology can solve and hasn’t?

That’s a really good question and I think I’m going to cheat and say two. The first one is education and I will put it in brackets, knowledge acquisition because when you say education everyone thinks, primary school and secondary school. It’s also similar and unrelated, unemployment. I think Nigeria and Africa’s biggest resource is its people. It’s a young population. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with global companies.

 

Before leaving Binance — Binance is one of the largest companies in the block-chain space— I remember thinking that there are people that I’ve met throughout my journey as a tech entrepreneur or investor in Africa that could definitely work somewhere like Binance. I’ve met people at Google. For me, it’s clear that there is talent and Janah had this saying which struck me that says

“Talent is equally distributed but the opportunity is not”. 

 

For me, there is a stats that I saw that really shocked me where it said, 95% or 98% of bank accounts in Nigeria have less than five hundred thousand naira in them and when I think about COVID and how the world has moved to work from home. There are a lot of small to medium businesses globally that for the first time are operating fully remote and so that means that, it doesn’t matter if you have an office. Someone in Kenya, someone in Nigeria, Ghana could be working for a global company and it doesn’t have to be a tech company. 

 

Bill Gates said he wants to see a computer in every home. My vision is a talented African in every global business.

I genuinely believe that the job you have and how much you get paid should not be a function of where you are. This is sort of where crypto excels. Whenever I have to make cross-border payments, for example, I’m trying to make a payment to a service provider in Asia, it’s going to take about five days for the transaction to clear and there is all this information that they are asking for and I need to confirm from my bank and all those types of stuff. In my mind, I’m like, if they had a crypto address, I could send them that value and they will get that value in like two seconds. That is the power of digital currencies.

 

For me, the idea that the world can be a lot more global and a lot more connected, that sort of unlocks employment opportunities for every African because they deserve it and they are good enough is something that technology has not solved yet but I’m very confident that in the next five to ten years would be a reality and hopefully bundle gets to play a role in that. 

 

Unfortunately, I think our education system across Africa fails us. The way we think about school and universities and education is really flawed. I really hated school. In university, I was really bad, wasn’t even in classes. When I opted out of uni, I spent like a year, studying and reading and just reading whatever was intellectually curious to me. For me, I think the internet changes the way we acquire knowledge. The way we acquire knowledge and the way we get tested for that knowledge is really flawed in Africa. 

 

Q: What soft skills would you recommend for tech start-ups or aspiring entrepreneurs to stay ahead? 

Very good communication skills (Written and Oral).

 

 

Listen to the full episode here

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