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Empowering African Tech Talent: Jumia’s Commitment to Local Innovation

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The need for Africa to nurture homegrown tech talents has never been more pressing than it is now. Data, published on Statista, from a survey highlighting the need for more talents in the global tech ecosystems and the opportunities available for homegrown tech talents to harness reveals that in over six years a large number of global organisations have been in dire need of tech talents. If nurtured properly, Africa’s homegrown talents have incredible opportunities to stand at the cutting edge of advancements as sentinels dictating the ebb and flow of the world’s technological pulse. But how do we nurture them? According to the International University of Applied Sciences — an accredited member of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition — the most in-demand skills include data science, programming languages, cloud computing, AI & Machine learning, and software development. Unsurprisingly, every talent that has any of these skills or any tech skill regarded as an advanced tech skill has a lot to gain. According to a forecast published by Statista, about 28 million and 17 million jobs in Nigeria and Kenya, respectively, were estimated to require digital skills as of 2030. Evidently, there are many benefits that accrue from learning and developing tech skills, but a question still lingers: how can tech enthusiasts and tech talents develop the much-needed skills they need to compete globally and take advantage of opportunities? To bridge this gap tech companies and organisations have employed various methods including tech funds, bootcamps and incubator programs, but one area that is often overlooked is local talent hiring and career growth opportunities. Due to the fast-paced nature of most workplaces, many companies would rather hire more experienced hands than greenhorns, but not Jumia Nigeria. Over the past eleven years, Jumia has made it a strategic priority to invest in local tech talent, recognizing its pivotal role in transforming the African digital economy. Through a steadfast commitment to technological innovation, career growth opportunities, and support for entrepreneurship, Jumia is not just building a business; it’s fostering a thriving ecosystem of homegrown innovation. Ayoola’s Journey: A Testament to Growth and Opportunity For Ayoola, a recent addition to Jumia’s team as an Android engineer, the journey has been nothing short of exhilarating. Reflecting on his experience, Ayoola shared that joining Jumia has been a game-changer for him, as the opportunity has opened doors to new horizons in his career, diving into projects like database migration on Android and leveraging tools like Github on an international scale. In his words “prior to joining Jumia, my experience with Github was limited to local teams. But now, I’m collaborating with international teams. Going forward, this skill is going to be helpful to me, and Jumia has given me that experience to collaborate and work with teams internationally using Github.” Ayoola’s testimonial is not a stand-alone when it comes to Jumia’s dedication to providing opportunities for growth and development in this global environment. Tech Evolution: Samson Ogberawhe’s Impact at Jumia At Jumia, Samson Ogberawhe, a software engineer, claims he has benefited immensely, having had the opportunity to work on projects like the Taxi application, Samson has honed his technical skills, but beyond that, he says “One skill I have actually developed in the process of working with the team is my troubleshooting abilities. The ability to find and resolve problems is critical to success as a software engineer. Another skill I have improved on is my content skills. Before I joined the team, I was not so good with front-end development. But over time, I have been able to hone that skill and as a result, increased my value as a software engineer”. As he continues to refine himself during his stay at Jumia, for Samson this journey has been more than just a job, it’s been one of personal and professional growth. Fostering a Culture of Innovation Ayoola, Samson, and countless others continue to push the envelope of what is possible, making it evident that the future of African tech is bright, fueled by a community of innovators that are consistently empowered by opportunities and nurtured by companies like Jumia Nigeria.

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Doing Business in Nigeria: Interswitch Founder reiterates need for focus on business’ unit economics

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As Nigeria, arguably one of the principal economic powerhouses of Africa, continues to attract global attention against the odds as a destination which cannot be ignored for investment and business opportunities, the 2024 edition of the ‘Doing Business in Nigeria Conference’ which held on Saturday 13th April in Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital served as a pivotal event for entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders seeking to tap into the country’s vibrant business landscape. Delivering a keynote on the theme ‘Doing Business in Nigeria: The Opportunities, Challenges and Realities’, Interswitch Group Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mitchell Elegbe set the tone for deliberations at the conference, sharing robust insights and perspectives hinged on over 22 years operating in Nigeria, from where the company has expanded into other African markets, being in the driver’s seat of one of Africa’s most influential digital technology businesses. Among other incisive pointers, Elegbe walked participants through the dynamic trajectory of Interswitch’s business operations, starting from 2002 when key infrastructural elements such as power and telecoms were at a nascent stage. The Interswitch Founder acknowledged that Nigeria is probably not one of the easiest markets in the world to do business, however stressing that compelling business opportunities exist only where there are challenges, pointing out that regardless of the challenges and constraints in the local operating environment, some particular industries and sectors have consistently bucked the trend and shown great promise. In his view the performance of these outliers is attributable to factors such as the ability to adapt and innovate within the local market hinged on pragmatism and nimbleness, understanding of consumer behaviour and agile responses to changing business landscapes. According to Elegbe, who set things in context through the lens of fintech businesses, there are significant differences between the typical Silicon Valley business model and what is necessary for sustainable success in a market like Nigeria, particularly in the current global investment climes. In his words, operating in the Tropical Savannah that Nigeria is, as he described it, warrants the business to ensure products/services are designed to meet people at their points of need, whilst essentially ensuring proof of concept, focus on unit economics and scaling to achieve volumes in spite of thin margins, with a view to driving profitability as an early priority. He emphasized that Unit economics are instrumental in evaluating the economic sustainability and profitability of the business model, providing insights into whether the business is generating sufficient value to justify the associated costs. Other keynotes were delivered by Wole Adeniyi, The Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Bank, who was represented by Olu Delano, Executive Director for Personal and Private Banking as well as Binta Max-Gbinije, Chief Executive, BMG Seven Limited, each bringing unique perspectives and expertise to the discussions. The conference agenda was thoughtfully curated to address key themes and topics relevant to doing business in Nigeria, with sessions covering market entry strategies, regulatory compliance, risk management, investment incentives, innovation, and sustainability, among other salient themes. Beyond the informative sessions and workshops, the Doing Business in Nigeria Conference 2024 provided platforms for networking and collaboration, including a business pitch session targeted at emerging entrepreneurs.

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Interswitch Kicks Off InterswitchSPAK Nigeria 6.0: Calls for Registration, Doubles Value of Winnings

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Interswitch, Africa’s leading digital payment and commerce company, has announced the commencement of the sixth edition of its annual National Science Competition, InterswitchSPAK, in Nigeria with a significant boost in prize monies and added incentives for more participants, as the company doubles-down on its long-term support for STEM advancement across Africa. The competition, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of the Interswitch Group, now in its 6th edition in Nigeria (and 5th edition in Kenya, where it also runs) aims to foster interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among senior secondary school students across the country. Schools in Nigeria can now register up to twenty (20) SS2 Science Students each, marking an unprecedented scale of participation. Registration for students will be open until May 10th, 2024, and it is free of charge to all applicants. The qualifying examination is conducted entirely online, allowing candidates to take it from the comfort of their school, home, or any convenient location. The Computer Based Test (CBT) exams are scheduled to hold from Tuesday, May 14th, to Saturday, May 18th, 2024, from 8 am to 6 pm daily. Participants have the flexibility to choose the most suitable day, time, and venue for their exam, with two trials available. Following the online qualifying examination, the top 81 students will proceed to the semi-finals and finals to compete for the coveted title of Nigeria’s Best STEM Student. This year’s edition, with a prize pool of over 30 million Naira, marks a 140% increase from the erstwhile 12.5 million Naira in prize winnings, demonstrating Interswitch’s unflinching commitment to educational development by doubling cash prizes for winners. The first prize winner will receive N15 million tertiary scholarship spread over 5 years, a laptop, and monthly stipends. The second-place winner gets N10 million spread over 3 years and a laptop, while the third-place winner will get N5 million for 1 year. In addition to the top three prizes, cash rewards are also available for the participants who secure the 4th to 9th positions. Furthermore, the top 18 semi-finalists will also receive cash prizes. The competition also recognizes the contributions of teachers and offers cash rewards for the top 27 contributing teachers. Interswitch will also purchase JAMB e-PINS for the top 200 preliminary qualifiers to enable them register for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations free of charge. Speaking on this year’s edition of the competition, Cherry Eromosele, Executive Vice President & Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Interswitch Group said “We are excited to kick off another edition of InterswitchSPAK, the 6th in the series in Nigeria, and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever before. By doubling the prize pool and expanding opportunities, we are not only investing in the winners but also in the entire ecosystem of STEM education. We are thrilled to see the impact this initiative has had over the last 5 editions and look forward to witnessing the brilliance and innovation of Nigeria’s young minds in this year’s competition”. The last edition saw Abraham Daramola, a student of Hallmark Secondary School, Ondo State, emerge as the winner, while the duo of Emmanuel Omoegbeleghan from The Crescent International School, Ogun State, and Emmanuel Angelo-Hyuwa from The Ambassadors College, Ogun State, came second and third, respectively. Secondary schools are hereby advised to visit the InterswitchSPAK portal to register their best science students in Senior Secondary 2 (SS2) for the competition. All eligible students and schools are encouraged to visit the website, www.interswitchspak.com, for more details on how to participate in the competition.

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Ecobank MySME Growth Series: Proper Packaging and Basic Certification are Critical for SME Exports, Says Expert

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Lagos, April 9, 2024 – Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria have great potentials and opportunities to earn foreign exchange (forex) if their products are well branded and packaged to meet international standards. Managing Director/Chief Executive, Export and Sell Limited, Nduka Udeh made this submission in his presentation titled: Earning FX By Exporting to USA and Canada, delivered at the Ecobank MySME Growth Series webinar. He stated that it was important for exporters of SME products to take into consideration the nature of their products while packaging and making shipping arrangements as well as an effective use of multi sale channels in US and Canada. According to him, many foreign markets particularly, United States and Canada are interested in Nigerian products and the SMEs can gain greater penetration in these markets that have huge potential but sadly most of their products are often rejected because they are not properly packaged and lacked necessary certifications. “SME products from Nigeria have great potentials in the export market. However, over 70% of food products are held at entry points because exporters don’t pay attention to packaging, local licensing and certifications needed to meet US specifications. The right process can save you so much. Exporters should pay attention to products that would give them maximum profitability, low shipping costs and effective distribution channels. It is important for them to be familiar with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)”, He said. Mr. Udeh who is also Chairman of African Import Export Solution, Houston, Atlanta, US advised exporters to explore the opportunities provided by Ecobank and his firm to train and support them on how to navigate the export market, adding that their products are in high demand, and they stand the chance to earn huge foreign exchange. Ecobank MySME Growth Series which started in February this year is designed to empower SME operators across the country. It is part of the bank’s commitment to train over 1 million SME operators in various sectors of the economy in 2024. The training will provide resources for starting a business, registration processes, industry statistics, and essential considerations for running a business. The series cover key topics such as accounting, credit, sales & marketing, taxation, and inventory management. Additionally, articles on key topics like increasing sales, advertising ideas, business management practices, case studies, and leveraging technology will be provided. Ecobank also plans to launch an SME Mentorship program to collaborate with successful entrepreneurs. Taken together, the MySME Growth Series reflects Ecobank’s dedication to fostering growth and success within the SME community.

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