September 15, 2022

Flutterwave planned IPO and the lessons for Nigeria


By Omololu Oduyoye

We, the older folks, may disagree with the mannerism of the ‘‘sorosoke” (speak-up) generation, but we lack the impetus to question their ability to put in the work and get the job done.

In the midst of chaos, heated polity and uncertainty that clouds Nigeria day-to-day, the tech space which they clearly dominate provides the silver lining that continues to thrive in spite of any assumed impending doom.

The Nigerian tech ecosystem speaks to the core of our resilience and capacity as a people, especially the versatility of our youth and the potential therein.

I remember a few years ago when Paystack was valued and acquired for  US$200million; the whole country went agog. It opened the eyes of those in authority to the potential of the tech industry that many of us have been discussing and lecturing them on.

None of those at the helm of affairs could ever think that any agency of government, apart from NNPC, could pull such a figure, let alone a small company that started somewhere in Yaba and was less than a decade old.

Flutterwave hit the air waves

While policymakers were still stunned and ruminating over that, Flutterwave hit the airwaves with a staggering US$3billion valuation.  That is more than what Nigerian non-oil sectors made in 2021.

From various reports, Flutterwave has taken a giant step to go public and list on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. If this is true and they succeed, it will be a watershed for Africa’s tech and innovation sector. Not just in service delivery but payment ease and testament to our hidden potential. According to Tekedia, the company has disclosed its plan to use the proceeds from the listing to grow its expansion into new African opportunities and also expanding into lending. 

Through its Flutterwave capital, it will provide collateral-free digital loans to business owners in Nigeria. With this support, businesses can easily access loans of up to 2million Naira without collateral, cumbersome documentation and other stringent terms and conditions.

What the government should now do is to refocus the drive for revenue generation with a well-formulated termed blueprint to grow the tech space by allocating grants for equity participation in innovations from talented youth with the primary target of exporting such innovation to the world.

It is not enough to attend the grand opening of these and that or visit Silicon Valley. It is self-evident that the ideas we seek from abroad are domiciled in our youth here and in abundance.

The continued failure to do this will be the exportation of these brains to countries willing to give them the needed support while we end up paying for the innovations developed by them.

The Flutterwave story, alongside many from the tech industry, is very similar to the everyday struggle of the average Nigerian – growth without institutional support or lifeline. All personal hard work and perseverance.

Let me say this: Flutterwave should be a source of inspiration and pride to Nigerians. That no matter what anyone may think of our country or its people, no matter the shenanigans of some misguided youth troubling the street of Dubai with daggers, the Flutterwave identity is who we are. Not the cultists that have overrun the Mafias in Italy or the Nigerians in different gallows in Asia for drug trafficking. It is the signpost of the endless possibilities we can achieve and the hope that dreams, no matter how tall, can be achieved.

•Omololu is a Chartered Accountant and financial advisor. He was a Financial Controller with African Capital Alliance (ACA) and Audit lead at KPMG.