Why this Nigerian fintech startup is volunteering audited financials

Nigerian fintech firm Carbon — an early stage monetary solutions startup primarily based in Lagos — has posted financials audited by KPMG on its web-site.

This comes 4 months just after the business obtained a credit rating as a pre-IPO venture. Carbon — which not too long ago rebranded its OneFi holding business and PayLater solution titles into a single name  — plans to continue releasing its monetary outcomes on an annual basis, co-Founder and CEO Chijioke Dozie told TechCrunch.

This might not be entirely unheard of in other worldwide tech markets, but for startups in Africa’s major tech hubs — such as Nigeria — it’s a rarity.

A single of the initial glimpses into startup financials in Nigeria came when Jumia shareholder, Rocket Online, went public in 2014, which needed it to contain restricted Jumia information in its annual report. The accompanying prospectus to Jumia’s listing this year on the New York Stock Exchange presented the most expansive monetary information to date on a tech venture operating in Africa.

Prior to this — and nevertheless for the most component — corporations in the continent’s (mainly) pre-public  (earlier stage) startup hubs — such as Nigeria — give tiny to no monetary overall performance information.

“Typically, in the local market, we have not seen a lot of voluntary transparency or the availability of data,” stated Lexi Novitske — a Lagos primarily based VC investor at Acuity Venture Partners.

“Most startups are concerned such disclosure could expose losses, give market intel to competitors, or attract unwanted attention from regulators. It could also lead to negative negotiation leverage if partners saw that they were making good returns.”

So why’d Carbon go to the problems of placing its pre-public accounting out in the open for everyone to see?

Clientele and recruiting had been two causes. “From a customer perspective, we are trying to get people to trust us with their financial services…so they can see this is the institution I’;m dealing with and this is their financial position,” explained Carbon’s Dozie.

Carbon has evolved from its original concentrate as an on the web lender, to present a broader array of mobile-primarily based monetary solutions — which includes payments, investment merchandise, credit reports, and small business banking solutions. In March, the business acquired Nigerian payment options business Amplify for an undisclosed quantity.

By stats presented by Briter Bridges and a 2018 WeeTracker survey, fintech now receives the bulk of VC capital and deal-flow to African startups, lots of of which are attempting to attain the continent’s massive unbanked and underbanked populations.

Carbon fits into that category and its CEO believes getting up front about the startup’s monetary position will attract best talent. “From a recruitment perspective, we want recruits to know we have good prospects — that this is a company that’;s doing well and wants to keep doing well,” stated Dozie.

That impression is buoyed by Carbon’s initial outcomes, which had been pretty optimistic for a Series A stage startup. The business had revenues in 2018 of $10 million, according to its on the web annual report, and turned a profit of about $500,000.

It’s helped with recruiting interest, according to Dozie, who stated he’d marked an improve in candidates inquiring about open positions considering that the outcomes had been posted.

Carbon Financial Results 2018 Nigeria Fintech II

The other causes to volunteer monetary information is to reassure investors (present and possible), shake off stereotypes for Nigeria, and greater position Carbon globally.

“When you appear at some of these challenger banks in the West, and you appear at their numbers and our numbers, we could conveniently match in with Monzo, N26, or Atom,” stated Dozie.

“But we don’;t get considered because investors don’;t really think that you can get the results or this performance in the markets that we’;re in,” he added —  noting that Carbon has operations in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa and is contemplating expansion in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, and Egypt.

Investor Lexi Novitske thinks Carbon supplying monetary overall performance information is a excellent factor for Africa’s tech ecosystem. “The move builds trust from clients, partners, or investors in a market where there is not a lot of openness,” she stated. “I am encouraged to see how other companies will react. My hope is that more will openly report their own metrics…”

Carbon CEO Chijioke Dozie says the business will continue to post audited financials on an annual basis, even if they show losses. If the startup continues to expand, attract capital, talent, and develop revenues, other Nigerian fintech firms might comply with suit.