#EndSARS, #EndSWAT or what else you come up with ✊

The Journey of Police reform, Businesses that showed up for protesters, It's like Stripe of Africa.

Hello there,

It’s been an emotionally demanding week keeping up with all that’s happening. If you’re reading this, most likely you’ve heard about the protest against police brutality all around Nigeria. In this week’s newsletter we talk about that, the progress so far, giving context to all that’s happening.

While you’re at that please remember to use the share button to spread the word and grow our budding community.

#EndSARS, #EndSWAT or what else you come up with

Source: Twitter

Demonstrations against Police Brutality across major cities in Nigeria began on 4th of October and it has been quite hectic since then as the citizens have been protesting against injustice and the disbandment of a unit of the Police Force called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS). It’s been over a week since the protests against Police Brutality started. This time unlike others in the past has proven to be different. 

What’s different about this time?

The power of technology: This protest has been amplified by the internet. It started on social media, and resources were quickly deployed to ensure the momentum doesn’t run dry. 

Protesters have enough food, pillows & airtime to keep going. The round the clock protests are simply kept alive by different people showing up at intervals like shift workers. With about 100 million Naira being raised, it’s certain there’s enough fuel to keep these protest running for a long time.

A taste of power: Beyond all that has been said, the slow but gradual changes being seen, indicate that protests work and there’s still hope after elections.

Bigger Picture: Despite the renouncement of the existence of SARS by the president and head of Police, it’d take more for the Nigerian government that has been seen as untrustworthy in the eyes of its citizens to prove itself. It’s simple. The government would need to go beyond statements. Create an action plan with timelines, clear deliverables and persons responsible.

Looking ahead: There are many other pressing issues, this movement might as well serve as a template for other campaigns in Nigeria and other African countries. For example, Youth-led protests have been demanding immediate political action on sexual gender-based violence in Namibia.

Companies that showed up for the Protests

It takes more than will power to make change happen, as protesters on the ground need food, legal counsel and all kinds of support. Some companies — most tech companies — in Nigeria’s business ecosystem have spoken up and supported in their own way.

So who are those guys?

Well, there’s a big bunch. So we’ll just name a few and their contributions.

Bundle — a payment app for cash and cryptocurrencies. It set up three cryptocurrency wallets for fundraising to support victims of SARS brutality and the protesters The company also contributed NGN 1,000,000 to the cause.

CowryWise —Specializing in savings and investment, the fintech firm made a donation of N1,000,000 to the Flutterwave support fund and publicly encouraged others to do the same. The companies also shared stories of police brutality which had also affected its employees in the past.

Paystack — The online payments platform also contributed immensely as members of its team donated N1,000,000 to help pay medical and legal expenses for protesters.

Softcom - The sub-Saharan software company along with its subsidiary fintech Eyowo, also donated N1 million to settle medical and legal needs for protesters.

Other companies such as BuyCoins (crypto startup), Eden (tech-enabled concierge service), Fliqpay (payments), Quidax (Crypto) and Voyance (data science) each contributed N500,000 to the campaign. Rise Vest, BudgIT, Safeboda, Abeg Technologies, Ventures Park, TechCabal and Techpoint also helped spread awareness and provide empathetic content. MPharmacy, Chicken Republic and Rite foods made food, drinks & drugs available to protesters.

The Payments saga

Flutterwave, a fintech platform that allows businesses to receive payments from customers worldwide, set up a fundraising project which some of the companies mentioned above contributed to, but after some time, the donation link for the fundraising project stopped working. This happened to other similar financial channels, leading to the use of cryptocurrency as a better alternative.

What happened

It was rumoured that the government through the power of the CBN had pressurized the company to stop donations to cut off financial support to protesters but the company’s chairman, Tunde Lemo (former deputy head of CBN) allegedly revealed that he personally directed the suspension of the fintech firm’s payment platform said the decision was taken to prevent the illicit flow of funds through the payment channel.

Prior to this, the company raised almost N17 million.

Digging Deeper

While the level of empathy shown by these companies towards the young Nigerian population is something to be reckoned with, the core issue is the intersection between business and politics.

This is because some legacy institutions in Nigeria have declined to speak on the issue of injustice, possibly fearing they would be hit by the government through the initiation of unfavourable laws which could hurt their businesses and their shareholders. 

In the end, the companies that spoke up have taken a stand which could spur reform in the government to help businesses in Nigeria thrive better in the future.

It’s like Stripe for Africa

Paystack, a Nigerian fintech company has been acquired by American- based payment giant, Stripe in a deal said to be worth over $200million in cash & stock.  

Tell me more

Earlier this year, Stripe raised $600 million, part of which it has used to invest and acquire payments companies in developing nations. This deal with Paystack is its highest acquisition so far.

The biggest acquisition of a Nigerian company? For corporate business, yes. The acquisition makes it the biggest acquisition deal in Nigeria so far. Although in 2019, Visa also paid $200million to acquire 20% stake in Interswitch and this was another sign of a big acquisition in the fintech space.  

Paystack’s Valuation: The company was valued at over $200million (~N90 Billion). To put things in perspective, this valuation places Paystack as being more valuable than some Nigerian banks based on their current worth on the stock exchange. Case in point: Unity Bank (N6.63B) Wema (N21.21B) Sterling (N40.30B), FCMB (N44.75B), Fidelity (N58.29B), Eco Bank (N77.17B).

This raises two questions, why didn’t any of these banks —which are at the forefront of payments— create Paystack? Why are tech companies valued higher than ‘traditional’ companies?

What this means for African startups: For African businesses, making international payment transactions hasn’t always been smooth, with this new deal, Paystack is expanding their horizon to meet international payment needs. Also, the serves as a reminder to investors that, amongst the existing African startups, there could be another ‘Paystack’ to invest in.

Bigger picture

There has been a massive growth in the Internet and smartphone users in Africa, Nigeria especially so;

For Stripe:  As silicon valley’s most valuable private company at $36billion, its gearing up to go public anytime soon. It ultimately sees Africa playing a significant role in technology and innovations in the future. 

For Paystack: This acquisition doesn’t change much as they will continue to operate independently. But with Stripe's support and expertise, Paystack will provide better service — deeper integrations with global platforms and accelerate their geographic expansion. 

Worth reading 📚

Quote 💭

The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation, and the first step towards cooperation lies in the hearts of individuals.

– Bertrand Russell

Thank you for reading 💙 Lift someone up who’s making an effort this week.