Meet Joshua Chibueze, The Fintech Guru!
Dear CIB reader, I know it’s been a while; since July. Please, forgive my “August Break”. I trust all has been well with you. I bet you are smiling at the new link right? Through God’s grace and the selfless effort of an African gentle man (identity to be revealed later), we have migrated from chidinmaibemere.wordpress.com to www.cib.com.ng. My dearest, CIB is not even a year old yet and the blessings have been overwhelming. This is marvellous in my sight. I shall share the blessings when we turn ONE next month God willing.
This particular blogpost is dear to my heart because it is about a good friend of mine from secondary school days. I attended Ogunlade College (OGC), a great school that trained the likes of Wizkid( yes please, the Wizkid you know), Scarlet Shotade, Yewande Kowontan, Halima Layeni, Adetola King, Beauty Onuoha, Helen Oguego, Rachael Adefemi, Janet Njoku, Kayode Ayanbadejo etc, who are doing amazing things for the world to be a better place.
To mark the 10th year anniversary of my graduation from OGC, with happiness in my heart, I present to you a cute Nigerian guy whose smiles can melt even the heart of Thanos? Josh Chibueze is his name. Enjoy the ride!
CIB: Let’s meet Joshua Chibueze (JC).
JC: Joshua Chibueze is the co-founder/CMO at piggybank.ng. He previously co-founded PushCV, a human resource consulting firm. 6 years experience in Digital Strategy, Product marketing, Growth and UX.
CIB: What is the piggybank story, from scratch to date (include how it works)?
JC: It all began from a tweet on 31st of December, 2015 when a Twitter user shared a picture of her saving box and how she was able to save N365,000 by putting aside N1,000 every day. That tweet was so inspiring that I actually went out to get a savings box (a “kolo”). Another Twitter user decided to sell saving boxes at the time, N2,000 each and so many people wanted that experience. The concept progressed to automating the “kolo”. Because, as anyone can imagine, putting money in a box everyday is not sustainable for many people. It requires a superhuman amount of discipline, the safety of it was shaky and if you convince yourself that you need the money badly enough, you could just break the box at, literally, any time, and take the money out. Hence, Piggybank.ng was born, out of the cons list of a wooden box.
Exciting prospect, yes, but Odun, Somto and I didn’t have big plans. We told ourselves that if we could get 1,000 people to use the product, that was just fine. The first version of Piggybank.ng was launched in a few days. We decided to make it totally FREE for the users but limiting withdrawal frequency which does help the user save for at least 3 months and helps us make more informed investment decisions, eventually. Gratefully, Paystack had just launched. They were (and still are) very instrumental to our journey.
When Piggybank.ng was launched, it was solely for people who wanted to save money daily (we added weekly and monthly savings eventually). We 100% focused on the market that wanted to save N1000 a day like the wooden-box saver; but the exciting prospect was enabling people to save in bits to meet up with their financial obligations like rent, fees, starting a business etc. In 2 days, we had over 300 sign-ups. By the end of 2016, we had helped our users save N21 Million. We launched a partnership with a Microfinance bank. This helped us a lot because we had the opportunity to learn about finance, the markets, banks, payments and government securities as we had no prior finance experience but we had some tech experience because we had run some startups in the past.
As we grew, we needed more, so we partnered with a commercial bank and then, later, another MFB.
CIB: Prior to piggybank, what plans did you have as it concerns career?
JC: I honestly thought I was going to work in an Oil company until I had to do my IT in 300 Level in an Oil company and I knew I wasn’t ready for that. I was more inclined to finding solutions to problems the company had, building it and selling it to them….and that was how my entrepreneurial journey began.
CIB: What is the unique selling point of your brand and is it limited to Nigeria?
JC: For us, it’s more about the discipline, the simplicity and the convenience. For now, it’s only operational in Nigeria but we hope to expand to other countries soon.
CIB: Kindly share few of your challenges and highlights so far.
JC: The biggest challenge for us has been trust and available infrastructure. Choosing the right investors was also a major challenge. And looking at hiring, from experience, we knew that we couldn’t just throw people at problems. Instead, we looked within and optimized as much as we could. It was the only way we could stay lean — we’re still a 12-person team. For customers, managing expectations has been very tough. It’s harder when you don’t completely control the entire value chain and a lot of times you have to take responsibility for lapses in some of infrastructure you rely on.
Highlights include having almost 55,000 registered users, a far cry from our projected 1,000 as well as helping our users save close to a billion at the end of 2017 and currently we have been able to achieve our entire savings volume for 2017 in the first 4 months of 2018. Our transaction volumes had increased, and we had to improve on our automation especially for payouts.
CIB: From your records, what can you say about Nigerians and the saving culture?
JC: Nigeria is actually a relatively poor country and most people simply cannot afford to save or lack the discipline to save but Piggybank acts like a cure because from our data, we can see that people tend to save better and are able to plan effectively towards their financial freedom.
CIB: In five years, would piggybank be a major competitor with other commercial banks or would it still maintain its current mode of operation?
JC: We don’t intend to compete with banks. We will continue to remain a channel for the banks. We work with them and for you to use Piggybank, you must have a bank account so in the future, there will be a lot more collaboration than competition.
CIB: Advice for the youths.
JC: Hardwork pays. Smart work pays better. You also have to know when to be persistent and when to move on to the next lucrative thing. Also, take your education very seriously, it’s what gets you in the door except you want to become a software engineer. It’s okay to get job – you can get rich too. And lastly, entrepreneurship, especially in Nigeria is extremely difficult so you need grit and persistence to scale through.
Woww! I know it was quite a long read but for me it’s so beautiful to see the great work being done by an old friend. Feel free to create an account for free with piggybank.ng and embark on a journey of discipline with regards to saving.
Till the next post, don’t forget that wasting time is suicidal.
With love from,