We’ve taken a well-known traditional concept and automated it using tech’
Odunayo Eweniyi is the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Piggybank.ng, a company that securely makes saving money possible by combining discipline plus flexibility to enable customers grow and reach their savings target. Prior to starting PiggyBank.ng, Eweniyi along with her co-founders, founded PushCV.com, a platform that connects verified employers in Nigeria with pre-screened candidates. In this interview with Mary Olushoga, Founder of the AWP Network – Eweniyi talks more about what inspired her to start her business, and shares her plans for the future.
What do women entrepreneurs need to know about finding investors and securing investment deals?
It is an exciting time to be a woman entrepreneur, especially in tech. There are not that many women in leadership roles within the Nigerian tech ecosystem, but this is slowly changing and there is a growing number of investors who value what female leaders are contributing to economy and society at large. I want to encourage women entrepreneurs to build their network and be their loudest cheerleaders – the more you talk to people about who you are and the problem you are solving, eventually the right investor will hear about you.
Who inspired you to start this business?
It all started with a tweet. In 2015, a Twitter user shared a picture of her savings box and she talked about how she saved N365,000 by putting aside N1,000 everyday. This conversation then progressed into how to automate the piggy bank concept, as the original concept requires a substantial amount of discipline. In addition, the security and the safety of the box is not guaranteed. This is what inspired us to start the business and this is how Piggybank.ng was born – out of the cons list of a wooden box.
How did you meet your co-founders?
I met my co-founders Somto Ifezue and Joshua Chibueze at Covenant University, where I studied Computer Engineering. Prior to this, we founded another successful company, pushcv.com, a platform that connects verified employers to pre-screened candidates.
How did you come up with your business name?
Piggybank.ng is an automated savings platform where savers manage their finances by depositing small amounts of money on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, depending on their savings target. We wanted a business name that would instantly identify our brand-who we are and what we do- and what better way to be easily identified than to name the business after the traditional, popular coin container, piggy bank. The majority of people who hear Piggybank.ng will instantly know that we are a Nigerian tech company that deals with savings.
Who is your target market?
Low to middle-income savers in Nigeria. Over 60 per cent of our users are millennials, so we are focused on that demographic. We want PiggybankNG to be available to anyone who wants to save money.
How have you financed your business?
For the past two years we have bootstrapped, using our own savings and small amounts of angel investment funds. We are now fortunate to have attracted $1.1m in seed funding from predominantly local investors led by Olumide Soyombo-Founder of LeadPath Nigeria, along with Village Capital and Ventures Platform.
What is your competitive edge? What sets you apart?
What sets us apart from our competitors is that we provide clarity and transparency to our user’s finances; there are no hidden charges, as the Piggybank platform enables users to track their transactions. Another way we are different from our competitors, who are predominantly banks, is that we provide financial discipline. When opening a savings account with a bank, customers are typically given ATM cards, withdrawal slips and more, this encourages spending. Our platform restricts withdrawal until an agreed date and drawings outside of the agreed day attracts a five per cent early withdrawal fee. This encourages the user to think twice and evaluate whether their early withdrawal is a necessity, which in most cases, it is not.
What is the long-term plan for your business?
We recognize that we cannot offer every financial service that meets the needs of our users, however, we are committed to ensuring that they have access to these services. For the future, we would like to create sustainable partnerships with other credible fintech service providers, such as the lending and insurance sectors, so that our customers can get the best available terms. We also want to scale across the country; so far, we have over 50,000 users- we want to see our numbers grow very quickly.
What challenges do you face or have you faced thus far?
As a fintech startup operating in Nigeria, gaining the trust of our prospective users was a challenge that we had to overcome. Coming in as ‘new kids on the block’, we had to convince people to give Piggybank.ng a try without proof that the platform works and is secure. Because we have proven to be credible and trustworthy by providing transparency and clarity to our users’ finances, we have garnered over 53,000 registered users who are willing to share their Piggybank.ng experience with our referral program-Piggybank Stories.
What key things have you learned since starting this idea?
. To let our customers lead us, this has helped my team and I to develop the product that they want, not the one we imagine they want.
. To show grit in the face of everything-we need to move forward, so we just move, against all odds. If you haven’t quit, then you have not failed.
. To focus more on our customers than the competition- the customers almost always lets us know what our competitors are up to.
. Entrepreneurship without personal development is a disaster. I have learned that if you lose yourself in the process, your company will suffer.
. Be adaptable- many times we have had to completely scrap a roadmap and change our destination, but that’s okay. Just don’t stop.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money?’
Unfortunately, it is difficult to start a business idea with no funds, however, my advice is to never let your idea die. It would be an absolute shame to see someone execute an idea you once had, all because you did not follow through.
If an entrepreneur is looking to launch a business, I would say that their first point of contact should be family and friends. If that is not feasible, I suggest putting aside some money until you reach your target. We have users who are saving to start or invest in a business, although challenging, there are ways to go about it.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
By promoting our challenges and successes, as well as encouraging one another. It is also important that as youths and millennials, we should encourage collaboration with one another. Piggybank.ng was co-founded by university friends-if we decided to ‘go it alone’, who knows where Piggybank.ng and its founders would be today.
How many jobs have you created so far?
We have created 11 jobs so far, across programming, product strategy, marketing, customer-experience, finance design and business development. We are keen on keeping a lean team and hiring for only the most essential of positions. However, we are sure that Piggybank as a platform will indirectly create even more jobs by enabling some of our users to start their own companies eventually hiring staff, and by helping businesses better manage their finances.
How has technology enhanced your business idea?
Piggybank.ng is built on tech. We have taken a well-known traditional concept and have automated it using tech. We are using tech to cultivate a savings culture in Nigeria, and we are harnessing the power of Africa’s most popular tool, the mobile phone, to give access to financial empowerment.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
We can support and improve innovation in Africa by embracing tech. Africa has a young demographic who are tech-savvy; we have only just scratched the surface when it comes to how we are using tech to innovate.
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