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These Nigerian SMEs were the Fastest Growing in 2017

The Filmhouse IMAX cinema in Lekki.


These Nigerian SMEs were the Fastest Growing in 2017

These Nigerian SMEs were the Fastest Growing in 2017

Last year, we highlighted 50 fastest growing Nigerian SMEs. We are doing the same in this article with some companies making the list again and a lot more getting a new mention.

When you think about it long enough, you will actually recognise the immense impact small and medium scale enterprises have on the Nigerian economy. You are not in the wrong. Numerous studies by IFC show that 96% of Nigerian businesses are SMEs compared to 53% in the US and 65% in Europe. These SMEs have helped to reduce unemployment, raise the country’s GDP, and given room for greater utilization of local raw materials.

This post is an avenue to identify and celebrate small and medium-sized businesses that have done considerably well in the last year. On this list are local businesses founded by Nigerians, operating within the country’s shores, with 3oo employees or less and that made an average turnover of 100 million Naira.

Being that this is Nigeria, we have made their revenue estimates via logically verifiable entrepreneur reports, reliable human sources and other data sources.

In the previous year, we highlighted 50 fastest growing Nigerian SMEs. We are doing the same in this article with some companies making the list again and a lot more getting a new mention.

Fastest growing Nigerian SMEs in 2017


Kudi uses an AI-powered chatbot to make payments and transactions on behalf of the user. With its friendly, conversational style, Kudi can be used to send money and airtime to family, friends, and colleagues. It also makes bill payments like DSTV/GoTV/StarTimes subscription and electricity.

Kudi is currently available on Facebook Messager but will soon be on other instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Telegram when it fully launches.

According to Yinka Adewale, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, the choice of hosting Kudi on messaging platforms is based on the notion of distribution. Since everyone already uses a messaging app, it is a way better option to run the solution on it than create a new app which will require an installation.

When the service was launched in January 2017, Kudi processed payments worth N998,830 (~$2774). By December of the same year, the numbers had hit N294,284,099 ($817,000).



nigerian smes

The Anakle team in their Lekki office. Image credit: Editi Effiong/Twitter

Founded by Editi Effiong, Anakle is a 24 man strong leading digital agency with a focus on ‘Building experiences for online and offline audiences’. Anakle has quite an impressive array of present and past clientele which includes Wikipedia, Guaranty Trust Bank, Etisalat, Unilever, Coca-cola and many others.

The agency ran a successful digital marketing campaign for Wikipedia last year which entailed videos that featured Pete Edochie and Mark Angel Comedy. In an interview about the campaign, Effiong explains how they were able to secure the contract and win the Wikipedia pitch.

It is rumoured within the grapevine that Anakle may be running the communication front of one of Nigeria’s biggest politicians who is gunning to occupy Aso-Rock in 2019.

In a recent Twitter post, Effiong wrote about the humble beginnings of the company – how he began as the only staff with only a laptop, a table, and a 6-word domain name.

Now, this is what we call fast growing.



FarmCrowdy is Nigeria’s first Digital Agriculture platform. Founded in September 2016 by Onyeka Akumah who also doubles as the CEO, it has positively impacted the lives of more than 2,000 small-scale farmers. The company plans to impact 50,000 small-scale farmers in Nigeria in the next 5 years and engaging 2 million Nigerian youths to participate in Agriculture.

That dream is not far from reality as FarmCrowdy raised $1.2m seed fund from TechStars, Cox Ventures and Social Capital last month.

FarmCrowdy allows middle-class and high-class Nigerians invest in farming projects with a return on investment upon the sales of the harvests. The laudable project has gained the attention of both local and international media.


Instant Pickup

Ubi Franklin, the entertainment entrepreneur, has shown us that he is not only a force to reckon with in the entertainment industry but also in the technology space. He is proving to us that an entrepreneur can do well in just about any industry through the launch of his Instant Pickup.

Instant Pickup is a service that began last year that takes the stress of laundry off its clients. Its business model is built on affordability and convenience – connecting users to the best laundry facilities close to them, allowing them access premium services by placing orders, tracking their laundries, and enjoy quick deliveries to their doorsteps.

Not only was Instant Pickup launched in the last year by Franklin, also was Instant Apartment. Instant Apartment is a platform allows users to search for short let apartments and connect them with verified real estate hosts as well as property owners looking to monetize their self-owned apartments which can be booked anywhere around the world.



Provided that you’re a Nigerian and not living under a rock, you should definitely know Bet9ja.

This online betting company was founded by Kunle Soname and it was launched September 10, 2013, under the umbrella of KC Gaming Networks Limited.

Did you know that Soname is the proud owner of a Portuguese club – Clube Desportivo Feirense? He is also the President of Remo Stars Football Club and the Nigerian National League Team.

According to a report by National Daily Newspaper, Nigerians spend an average of N308bn daily on online betting. Although sports betting may seem like an unlikely solution to the unfortunate unemployment statistics, it has been a lifesaver for many. Currently, the industry has, directly and indirectly, created employment opportunities for thousands.

The President of Nigerian Gaming Association (NGA), Yahaya Maikori, states in an interview that the sports betting industry in Nigeria is estimated at more than 40 billion Naira. There is definitely a pot of gold lying beneath this opportunity.



What makes Flutterwave so spectacular is nothing other than the ingenuity of the service and its localisation to Africa and Africans. With one API, anyone can send and receive money, in any currency, from anywhere around the world. Before the dawn of recent fintech startups like Flutterwave, Pay with Capture, and Paystack, it was herculean to make web-based payments without hitches in Nigeria. Then the exorbitant charges it incurred on businesses to install an e-commerce payment service online on their sites was another major issue. It is so relieving that all that is past now.

Flutterwave was founded by Andela Co-founder, Iyin Aboyeji in 2016. The US-based company (which has a local office in Lagos, Nigeria too) has processed more than ten million transactions worth $1.2bn, according to their website.


Ebonylife TV

Nigerian smes, Ebony life TV

The Wedding Party 2 has earned N467 million till date making it the highest grossing movie of all time in Nigeria. Image credit: Ebonylifetv (Instagram)

Mo Abudu‘s Ebonylife TV has long become a household name, thanks to its many record-breaking movies and TV shows.

In the last one month since its release, the second instalment of The Wedding Party, produced by the studio, raked in N9.6 million on opening day and over N468.5 million in sales until date, making it the highest grossing Nollywood movie. Its precedent, The Wedding Party, was said to have made an earning of up to N450m on the box office alone.

If that is not a Nigerian SME making money moves then what is?

We can say that at only four years old, this infant of the unassuming queen of Nigerian TV and film has achieved its dream to be the global network for premium African entertainment.


Mai Atafo

Getting married in Nigeria is a very big deal with some weddings costing as high as N5m and catering to up to a thousand guests. Actually, some weddings have been known to even cost as much as between N20m and N100m. Before now, brides would leave the country to have their custom wedding gowns sewn but these days the likes of Mai Atafo effortlessly save the day.

“We just don’t make our clients look good, we make them feel great…” says Mai Atafo, the Creative Director and Founder of Mai Atafo, a Nigerian bespoke fashion house.

Mai Atafo is well known for a pioneering clientele which includes celebrities and for delivering premium and fashion-forward designs that push the boundaries in delivering on international fashion standards. Although African by heart, the brand is well positioned to take on the international community and we are cheering her on!

Atafo was one of the biggest style influencers of 2017, with Glitz Style’s award for African Designer of the Year going to him and his brand.



Gamsole was founded by Abiola Olaniran in 2013 and since then the mobile gaming company has been in business, reeling out game after game. So far, Gamsole has developed and released more than 40 games which have been downloaded more than ten million times in over 200 countries. Gidi Run which seems to be one of their most successful games was downloaded 3400 times less than a week after its release. Not only is Abiola’s company involved with mobile game development but also creating animations and interactive content designs.


FilmOne Studios

Before FilmOne Studios came to be, Ben Murray Bruce’s Silverbird Cinemas held the market sway with a monopolistic hold. Not everyone could afford to go to see a movie as it was considered elitist. Enter Kene Mkparu, who after serving at the Odion Cinema in the UK, established the FilmOne Distribution company and Filmhouse cinemas franchise in 2012.

Kene had begun Genesis Deluxe Cinemas in partnership with Nnaeto Orazulike in 2008 after returning from the United Kingdom. But because things didn’t work out well between them, Kene went his own way and founded FilmHouse Studios.

Not only does Filmone distribute high-end pictures, they also maintain strategetic relationships with studios/distributors across the globe. Today, FilmHouse has 10 operational sites, are the largest cinema chain in West Africa and the 3rd largest in Africa.

The Filmhouse IMAX cinema in Lekki.

The Filmhouse IMAX cinema in Lekki. Image credit:


Cregital Design Agency

The cregital team

A cross-section of the Cregital team. Image credit: @cregital/Instagram

Cregital, a creative and digital agency, is undeniably one of the most thriving startups in Lagos. Evans Akanno, a self-taught 27 years old graphic designer, began the company on April 20, 2015. Cregital specialises in branding, UX / UI design, and web development.

Last year, Cregital worked with one of the top financial institutions in Nigeria, Zenith Bank, to rebuild their website. In 2016, the team clinched the award for Website Development Company from the Nigerian Technology Awards.



Tizeti is doing two things to help the lives of Nigerians and Africans. Firstly, they are using the power of wifi and solar energy to “offer disruptive, customer-friendly pricing for unlimited internet service right across Africa.” Secondly, Tizeti is offering fast and unlimited Wifi to all their users in homes, offices, and public places. It was co-founded by Kendall Ananyi who acts as the company’s CEO and Ifeanyi Okonkwo who is the COO.

Tizeti in partnership with MainOne and Facebook used their solar-powered towers to provide better internet connectivity for Lagos mainland dwellers. It is also worthy of note that earlier in the last year, the ISP closed a $2.1m Seed investment round from Western Technology Investment, and a number of angel investors including Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel and Gabriel Hammond.


Thrive Agric

Thrive Agric is a technological driven agricultural company focused on driving agricultural participation in Nigeria. They urge investments in Agric from working-class Nigerians which help to improve farm outputs of participating farmers. Investors, called farm subscribers, get regular updates regarding the current state of their farms.

The Nigerian Agricultural sector, according to PwC, is worth at N21 Trillion Naira. Thrive Agric is one of the Nigerian SMEs adopting a modernised approach to tapping into the Agric value chain. Although a newbie, they sold out over 200 hectares of farmland and secured $20,000 of seed funding as part of Venture Capital’s second cohort in 2017.

Uka Eje is the CEO and Co-founder of Thrive Agric.

Simply put, helps its clients save money better and spend less. They use a model of social proof (called Piggybank Stories) to convince potential users of the viability of their service and you guessed right…it works!

Founded by the trio of Somtochukwu Ifezue, Odunayo Eweniyi, and Joshua Chibueze, has a bundle of features such as Safe Lock which, like the name implies, keeps users monies locked away until an appointed time while they earn interest on it. 30% of Piggybank deposits are currently in Safe Locks.

In 2016, the fintech company had saved 21 million Naira for their users and wonderfully increased that amount to 1 billion Naira by December 2017 (Piggybank has an excellent online marketing strategy). Last year, they also released their iOS and Andriod mobile applications. won the Village Capital Fintech Accelerator Program with Olivine Technologies.

Read their 2017 Year in Review here.

Mark Essien began with only $300 in 2013. Today, the Nigerian SME is one of the biggest hotel booking agencies in Nigeria. Through, more than 7000 small and medium hotels are able to compete in a cost-effective way with bigger players in the hospitality industry as they are connected to customers across 21 regions in Nigeria.

In a bid to provide more value to its customers and expand its value offerings, the startup set up online flight bookings on their platform in 2017. According to Essien, the move is the next logical step for them as it helps their users do more on just one platform.

In addition to this, also launched, a platform for finding interesting places across Nigeria.

Also in the previous year, achieved profitability and grew their staff strength to 65 members. They also implemented a senior management team approach with some of the staff members taking high-level positions within the company.



The Nigerian car dealership space is wroth with lots of mistrust and misgivings about the integrity of its practitioners. But when Etop Ikpe co-founded Cars45 in 2016 with Iyamu Mohammed, Sujay Tyle, and Peter Lindholm, he wanted to change that.

Since that time, Cars45 has been actively selling and buying cars. In 45 minutes or less, car owners get to sell their cars without hassles of any kind.

Last year, Cars45 raised $5 million in funding to expand their operations. In recent times, they also partnered with motor vehicle maker, Kia Motors to provide a seamless pre-owned car sales and trade-in programme for all Kia cars.



Tayo Oviosu is not here to play. Before he founded Paga eight years ago, it was hard for anyone with multiple bank accounts to make cashless transactions. But through Paga, people can easily make payments, be paid, whether they are individuals, businesses, banked or unbanked.

Paga is a full-service payment and digital financial services provider with three pillars: its more than 11,000 strong agent network, individual offerings and business offerings.

In 2017, Paga acquired more than six million customers. They were also certified by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council as (PCIDSS) level one compliant, meaning that Paga’s platform has been put through series of rigorous tests and proven to meet global security standards as defined by the PCI security standard council.



Founders of the logistics company, Africa Courier Express (ACE), Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eksin, began Lidya in September 2016. Lidya is a financial services platform that aims to make lending to SMEs an easy and seamless process.

In the previous year, Lidya was able to raise funding to the tune of $1.25 million from Accion Venture Lab. This was to allow the company increase their Pan-African reach and impact more small and medium businesses.



Although Co-Creation Hub (CCHub) may seem like they weren’t all out there in 2017, they actually made much impact in several ways through collaborations.

CCHub launched their $22 million Pitch Drive powered by Google for Entrepreneurs which engaged 14 top tech startups from Africa as they toured exciting cities in Europe while pitching to investors, discovering international opportunities, fostering collaborations and exploring frontier technology markets. LifeBank, and FashPa are some of the beneficiaries of the initiative.

Boson Tijani’s social innovation enterprise has also partnered with Facebook to launch a community tech hub in Nigeria which will train 50,000 Nigerians in digital skills and help develop technology companies.



When Big Brother Naija came last year, one e-commerce brand stood out during the show which was PayPorte. Despite the controversy surrounding BB Naija, PayPorte got massive PR and publicity as the lead sponsor which would usually be done by a Telco or bank.

It is open to debate as to how much PayPorte generated from sponsoring BB Naija or even they made any revenue at all but one thing is certain which is that there was more awareness of the brand. More people knew they had other options to shop online aside from Jumia and Konga.

Eyo Bassey and his team launched PayPorte on September 25, 2014.


Orange Culture

2017 was an overall good year for Adebayo Lawal’s Androgynous menswear label, Orange Culture.

When the London Fashion Week kicked off, Orange Culture made a debut as the first Nigerian brand to be invited to exhibit its Autumn/Winter 2017 collection at the Fashion scouts which is the Uk’s Largest independent showcase for emerging and established design talents.

Also, Davido, music sensation, made an exciting collaboration with Orange Culture and UK retail brand Selfridges out of his hit song, IF.

We can’t wait to see what this year will bring for the fashion brand.



Prepclass is an online tutorial platform that connects learners with tutors, very much like an Uber for teachers and learners. Founded by Olumide Ogunlana and Chukwuwezam Obanor in 2013, Prepclass has carried out over 55,000 hours of tutoring, 18,000 tutor applications, and worked with over 600 tutors in 3 major Nigerian cities – Lagos, Abuja, and Port-Harcourt.

Prepclass got a $300,000 equity-free grant from GSM Association last year. Their basis for getting selected was explained by Olumide thus: “because we had a vision of how we are going to use mobile operators to unlock passive income for tutors using the sharing economy business model.”

In over three years, Prepclass has generated over $350,000 in revenue and more than 800 jobs in the three cities it has been operating.


Having gone through that long list, perhaps we may have missed out on a couple you think should be up there. What are they? Mention them in the comments.

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