Foreign or Local: Are Nigerian StartUps Worth Investing In?

Foreign or Local: Are Nigerian StartUps Worth Investing In?

With a population of over 170 million people, Nigeria provide one of the most robust consumer markets in Africa. It is not a surprise the west African Nation overtook South Africa as the largest Economy on the continent last April.

The country, which is also Africa’s largest oil producer, has seen a influx of successful technology startups in the last few years, from Jumia – an online shop with over 500,000 item and more than 100,000 visits per day; to Hotels.ng – an e-reservations site that gets up to 300,000 visit a day and to Lamudi – a property listing site that already has 25,000 listings.

Several investors have set up shop in Nigeria to tap into this entrepreneurial zeal that has sparked among the country’s youth.

From the Tony Elumelu Foundation that invests as little as $5,000, but on fairly punitive terms like rights of first refusal on future rounds of equity financing, to large financiers like Folabi Esan’s Adlevo Capital that can inject $20-$30 million and other global players like Actis or Emerging Capital Partners.

“We do $20m-$30m deals, with co-investors, putting in around $5m-$7m of our own funds,” Esan told The African Report.

In between, there are other interested investors including Lagos Angel Network, which can bring funding of $30,000-$50,000 and  accelerators and early-stage venture funds that can give $200,000- $300,000.

But who benefits from these investments?

There are concerns among local players that the big spenders are only dishing out money to successful foreign owned start-ups like Jumia and Lamudi

Both Jumia and Lamudi are owned by African Internet Holding, a joint venture between Germany’s Rocket Internet venture capital fund, Swedish telecommunications company Millicom and South African mobile operator MTN.

Local competitors, such as Konga – an e-commerce rival to Jumia – and Dealdey, a site that resembles the deal and coupon site Groupon are finding it difficult to break into a market that has already been broken by a deep-pocketed foreign rival.

But is it a question of local vs foreign here? Esan thinks not. He says why there are worries that when a foreign-backed company like Jumia or Lamudi does incredibly well, the lion’s share of that money will not remain in the Nigerian economy, there are a lot of additional benefits to local investment.

“Having both will broaden the general market for these new products and create a new generation of local competitors,” he said.