Why Nigeria Is The African Economic Opportunity: Tayo Oviosu, GHOGH Podcast Episode 7

Written by Dana Sanchez

meditating Paga
Here’s what meditating for 365 days straight did for Tayo Oviosu, the founder and CEO of leading Nigerian mobile payments firm, Paga. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Nigeria has 180 million people but fewer than 17 percent have bank accounts, which is bad for the banks but good for Paga, the country’s largest mobile money operator.

Paga exists to solve two problems, according to its founder and CEO, Tayo Oviosu.

“One is how do you make it easy to pay and get paid in a country that is extremely cash-driven. And the second is, how do you deliver financial services to the mass market?”

Growing up in Nigeria, Oviosu persuaded his mom to let him study abroad. He was accepted into a Bakersfield Junior College in California, where he worked five jobs including as a school janitor.

“After school was over I was mopping the floors and my classmates were sitting right there,” he said.

From there, Oviosu transferred to University of Southern California USC where he studied electrical engineering. After that he went to work for a couple of startups in Los Angeles and then on to Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco. He did that for about three years before heading to business school at Stanford University.

Digital media pioneer Jamarlin Martin launched the GHOGH Podcast Franchise — Go Hard Or Go Home — at SXSW 2018, aimed at multicultural millennials.

Jamarlin spoke to Tayo Oviosu about bitcoin prospects, superior Nigerian academic performance in the U.S., and why Nigeria is the African economic opportunity. The podcast also touches on Elon Musk, Aliko Dangote, and whether Oviosu would ever run for president.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Tayo Oviosu, on how big the opportunity is in Nigeria:

The sheer size of Nigeria is sometimes very hard for people to understand. What I say to people just to help them get a context of it is, ‘Look who thinks China is a big deal today?’ And everybody raises their hand. Well, 80 years from now Nigeria is going to be bigger than China. I hate when people say, ‘Well, Africa is the last frontier” or the next frontier. I’m like, ‘No, it’s Nigeria. It’s not Africa.’ With all due respect to all the other countries, Africa is going to go the way Nigeria goes because of the sheer size of the country and the economic opportunity.

Tayo Oviosu, on Bitcoin as a threat to his business:

I don’t think it’s a threat because I think fundamentally central banks and including the Nigerian central bank are not going to allow Bitcoin to become the currency in their markets. I do think at some point in our lifetime we will have at least one country go 100 percent cryptocurrency and it will be their own currency they’ll create. So because of that, I don’t see Bitcoin as competing, but I could see us allowing people to trade and use Bitcoin. In Paga you hold a digital wallet similar to PayPal. You can put cash in it. If you have a bank account, you can link your banks, you can put your cards on it. So if I want to send Jamarlin money, on Paga I send him money and he gets the cash in real time, instant real time. So in that transaction, Bitcoin does nothing for us at all because you can now take that cash, use it on Paga, move it to your bank if you want, right? Or cash it out if you want. So Bitcoin has no real benefit. In fact, with Bitcoin, I now need to remember this. I have to create this wallet, and if I lose my key, I lose my wallet, which actually happened to me.

Hear more of Tayo Oviosu on Episode 7 of the GHOGH Podcast.

Other GHOGH episodes:

Episode 15: Clarence Wooten, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, sold his first tech business for $23 million. He discusses his new venture — STEAM Role — meritocracy, and common mistakes founders make. He also talks about Bitcoin’s long-term prospects and how blockchain has opened up new capital-raising opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Episode 14: Barron Channer, founder of Miami -based Woodwater Investments, talks about turning down Harvard Business School, and whether Black-on-Black murders need to be prioritized over police-on-Black murders. He also debates what is to blame for the Black murder rate in Chicago and whether most U.S. police departments are racist in the second of a 2-part podcast.

Episode 13Barron Channer, founder of Miami-based Woodwater Investments, shares how he got to work for billion-dollar real estate developer Don Peebles. This Wharton MBA’s business focuses on real estate development and tech. He revisits how Barack Obama handled Rev. Wright in the first of a 2-part podcast.

Episode 12Keenan Beasley, co-founder and managing partner of New York digital analytics company BLKBOX, talks about his early mistakes, how NY and Silicon Valley investors differ, and the advantages of getting experience in an industry before trying to disrupt it. The Westpoint grad and former P&G brand manager also discusses M&A activity involving Richelieu Dennis, Byron Allen and Robert Smith.

Episode 11Travis Holoway, founder and CEO of peer-to-peer lending startup SoLo Funds, discusses Mark Zuckerberg as a liberal tech version of Donald Trump, Jake Tapper’s double standards on CNN towards Black leaders, and whether Silicon Valley has “negro helpers” who set the community back.

Episode 10: Karen Fleshman, the founder of Racy Conversations, talks about women of privilege exploiting civil rights and diversity movements, and whether Kamala Harris can be trusted on criminal justice reform. She also discusses Facebook’s problems, and whether these can be primarily sourced to Mark Zuckerberg’s and Sheryl Sandberg’s values and ethics.

Episode 9: Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson talk about Black Tech Week, economic empowerment, and the potential impact of Atlanta landing Amazon HQ2. They also discuss the politics of diversity favoring women of privilege, and whether or not Silicon Valley is the global capital of white supremacy.

Episode 8: Marlin Nichols, co-founder of Cross Culture Ventures, talks about the culturally-themed fund he started with Troy Carter. He discusses the burger-flippin’ robot, Flippy, and socially responsible investing. Marlon offers advice to founders seeking investment, and answers questions about whether there is too much “shut-up-and-dribble” in Silicon Valley.

Episode 7: Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of leading Nigerian mobile payments company Paga, discusses bitcoin prospects, superior Nigerian academic performance in the U.S., and why Nigeria is the African economic opportunity. The podcast also touches on Elon Musk, Aliko Dangote, and whether Oviosu would ever run for president.

Episode 6: Rodney Sampson, founder of HBCU@SXSW and the Atlanta-based Opportunity Hub, discusses investing in Atlanta blockchain startups and the importance of connecting HBCU endowments to Black tech. He covers the intersectionality of oppression, discrimination, and holding SV leaders accountable for inequality.

Episode 5Angela Benton talks about starting NewMe Accelerator, building her personal brand as a single mother while battling cancer, and whether or not most of the “diversity” gains in Silicon Valley will go to privileged white women.

Episode 4Detavio Samuels, president of Interactive One, leads a $30M digital media business that in 2017 acquired Bossip, Madamenoire, and HiphopWired. He discusses Richelieu Dennis’ acquisition of Essence, Facebook’s recent fumbles, and whether Complex Media is a culture vulture.

Episode 3Arlan Hamilton talks about Backstage Capital, the VC fund she dreamed up while she was homeless. She talks about the Silicon Valley establishment and about Tamika Mallory, who attended Saviours’ Day with Louis Farrakhan.

Episode 2Rodney Williams, founder and CEO of Lisnr, talks about raising $10 million in venture capital, HBCU endowments that invest in black tech, and how to fire loyal employees you like.

Episode 1Brian Brackeen talks about his path to starting his facial recognition firm, Kairos, how blockchain can be applied to the NFL, and whether Disney’s’ “Black Panther” is revolutionary.