African tech founders give the term “mafia” a profitable and palatable twist.
Remember the Cellulant Mafia? The East African connection leveraging telecommunication and the technology accompanying it? Founded by a Kenyan, Ken Njoroge, and a Nigerian, Bolaji Akinboro? Which has birthed six productive business families? Read more here.
Well, there is also the Careem Mafia representing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which casts a wider net than its East African counterpart. Careem is a ride-hailing company created by former Swede, Magnus Olsson and Pakistani Mudassir Sheikha. It is a powerhouse in Northern Africa and the Middle East, and a catalyst for the region’s growth. Careem gave Uber a run for its money, became the first unicorn in the MENA region (excluding Israel) and has spawned over 100 founders of companies across the world.
So, Kenya has Cellulant.
Egypt has Careem.
And Nigeria appears to have three . . . and counting, who collectively make up the Nigeria & West Africa Mafia with each company a stronghold family of its own.
Meet the Three Businesses Expanding the Nigerian & West African Mafia
The Jumia Mafia
The e-commerce giant calls itself Nigeria’s number-one online, shopping mall. Jumia is a Pan-African, technology company built around a marketplace, logistics and payment service. It came into existence in 2012 and was founded by Jeremy Hodara, Sacha Poignonnec, Tunde Kehinde, Raphael Kofi and Afaedor.
Today it has produced at least 12 other businesses created by former employees as founders or co-founders; half of which are ecommerce-based.
- Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, co-founder, Suregifts; Founder, Numbers
- Raphael Afaedor, co-founder, Supermart.ng
- Massimiliano Spalazzi, co-founder, Kaymu Africa
- Gbolahan Fagbure, founder, Supermart.ng
- Olubusayo Longe, co-founder, Form+
- Onyeka Akumah, co-founder, Qwikgist.com
- Adeoye Ojo, co-founder, Suregifts
- Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze, co-founder Innabel Logistics
- Tunde Kehinde, co-founder, Africa Courier Express
- Hilary Achebe, co-founder, Achebe Professional Services
The OPay Mafia
OPay is a one-stop, mobile-based platform for payments, transfers, savings, loans, and other essential services for every individual.
Before becoming the recognized household name it is today, OPay operated in the pouch of PayCom Nigeria Ltd. Seven years later, OPay’s parent group, Opera, acquired Paycom and OPay came into its own in August 2018.
Between then and now, erstwhile employees of the company have gone ahead to recreate their version of the mobile platform. Note as above, some of the new companies were formed by two ex-employees.
So far, we have counted eight new businesses:
- Chukwudi Enyi, co-founder, BFREE Africa
- Moses Nmor , co-founder, BFREE Africa
- Rian Cochran, co-founder/COO of Lemonade Finance
- Ridwan Olalere, co-founder/CEO of Lemonade Finance
- Damilola Layode, co-founder/CEO of Glover
- Seun Alley, co-founder/CEO of Fez Delivery
- Richard Oyome, co-founder/COO of Raenest
- Afolabi Abimbbola, co-founder/CEO of Kredi Bank
- Wale Martins, co-founder, Collect Africa
- Darlington Oyeagoro, co-founder/CEO of Alladin
The Paystack Mafia
We left the biggest for last.
Who can forget Paystack? While the world was grappling with COVID-19, this financial technology company was acquired by Stripe for $200M three years ago, causing a ripple in the global start-up ecosystem, especially in Africa.
At the time, the four-year-old company had been floated by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi to offer payment processing services to businesses.
Now. Paystack is releasing other founders into the ether of the start-up ecosystem, and we have listed seven of such below:
- Abdulhammid Hassan, founder/CEO, Mono.
- Idorenyin Obong, co-founder, Grey
- Femi Aluko & Olumide Ojo, co-founders, Chowdeck
- Emmanuel Okeke, co-founder/CTO, Brass
- Kuassi Jimmy Kumako, co-founder, Moneco
- Ikechukwu Obi, founder/CEO Alvative
- Oluwaseun Odusanya, CEO, Squareme
They say leadership is less about leading and more about inspiring. Leaders inspire their followers, subordinates and, unwittingly, become role models to individuals in their sphere of influence.
Some Nigerian tech founders are stirring their former employees to lend a more positive impact on society; as employees, who ultimately become founders, create a ripple effect of jobs, opportunities, skills, networks, and continually grow the African start-up ecosystem. We can almost say that this is paying it forward towards building the Nigeria & West Africa Mafia.
Though using the term mafia may sound odd, given the connotation it has had since it existed. But no, it is apt; it denotes everything good that the mafia was once unknown for.
Read also: The Rise of the Cellulant Mafia
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