Small and medium-sized businesses were hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. And all of this was just as true in emerging markets as it was for SMEs in developed countries.
Tunde Kehinde had a front row seat to watch and respond to this crisis. He is the CEO and co-founder of Lidya, a Nigerian startup that created a platform for SMEs to apply for and receive loans and other financial services targeting markets on the African continent and increasingly also in emerging markets in Europe. We sat down with him as part of our new Virtual Disrupt Series, where we hooked up with some of the greatest tech creators outside of the US.
Kehinde has been dubbed “Jeff Bezos of Africa,”
Kehinde – born in Nigeria and familiarized with many US methods through college years at Howard and then at Harvard – previously co-founded one of the largest tech startups to come out of the continent – Jumia – an Amazon-style marketplace, which is slowly branching out into a wider network of services such as payments, grocery delivery, and more.
Originally incubated by Rocket Internet, Jumia Hundreds of millions of dollars raised by VCs, scaled to multiple countries on the continent, and now publicly traded on Nasdaq with a current market cap of $ 660 million – perhaps modest by Amazon standards, but a real milestone for African technology.
That alone would probably deserve to wonder if he’s the “next Bezos,” but it was his successor at Lidya who paints a broader picture. In short, there is much more potential for payment and online commerce services in emerging markets. Focusing on helping small businesses bridge the digital divide is not only a good one, but an opportunity to grow. Capital, especially the lack of it, has always been a major barrier to growth and nowadays it is an even more critical axiom that needs to be addressed.
Below you can see the full disrupt conversation, in which Kehinde talks a lot about not only his company but also the technological development in the region.
The breakout success of a handful of startups – including new digital payments unicorns, Interswitch, and Jumia – venturing into multiple jurisdictions is causing more VCs to increase their interest and investing too. He believes the next very important step is to have more exitsthat will add a different kind of credibility and liquidity to the market.
And there should be, he added: There are few places like the African continent where you can get in quickly and build a really dominant player if you have the right capital and team, he said.
“It’s day and night between seven years ago and now,” he added, but also admitted that financial services and the related world of e-commerce are obvious starting points, but it was also the classic category that came first in the US and US had to be addressed Europe many years ago – he still sees more interest from VCs in the US, Europe and Latin America.
His advice to VCs?
“I would be As a VC, I would watch the greatest achievements of people like me, ”he said. “When you see Jumia and others go public, the more of these things happen the more of these things happen, the more you can develop great politics, and that will make it easier. I’ve started, I need to scale, I’ve achieved a ROI, the right infrastructure can be built. “
Tune in here to hear how he talks about China too and how to deal with investments from outside Africa. What other big deals in lending for SMEs like Kabbage being acquired by Amex mean the business impact of the global coronavirus pandemic for startups like Lidya. Identify opportunities outside of your immediate region; and more.