One of the major factors that drive innovation is the ability to create a product or service that solves a problem. This isn’t any different for Tayo Oviosu, the founder and CEO of Paga, a financial mobile payment platform that was founded in 2009 with the aim of solving the financial payments problem in the country.
Oviosu’s drive to increase financial inclusion among Nigerians was what led him to create the platform which has since continued to assume an increasing recognition among policymakers and investors.
Oviosu, who was born some 40 years ago, spent his early years in Nigeria before relocating to the United States in 1994. He earned his BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1998 and later proceeded to have his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University in 2005.
For Tayo, success didn’t come overnight. While working his first job with a small startup, which was into the development of digital imaging in the U.S., he was saddled with the responsibility of designing a chip that was sent to Taiwan for fabrication. Having tested the design on several occasions in the lab, he was confident that it was going to work. But the Prototype was returned as a failure, thereby embarrassing his company and costing them money. The incident also led to his sack, just three months into his first job after graduation.
After being rendered jobless in California, Oviosu didn’t give up. He went on to work with several companies including Deloitte Consulting before moving back to Nigeria in 2008. By this time, he had worked for some 13 years in the United States and so wanted to be part of the economic development of Nigeria.
According to Oviosu, his personal mission was to help build the financial ecosystem in Nigeria. Since the launch of Paga, tremendous growth has been observed with 8.2 million users that processed over 2 million transactions worth over $131 million in the month of March 2018.
The mobile money platform currently has the largest agent network, with over 15,000 transacting agents serving its dedicated communities in 35 states across Nigeria. Paga has also partnered with CBN to grow the reach of agents providing financial services to 500,000 in order to boost up inclusion for all Nigerians.
In a recent interview with Guardian, Oviosu revealed that he embarked on the Paga journey to solve two problems: “First, is making it easy for people to pay and get paid, no matter if they are individuals, business, banked and unbanked. Secondly, delivering financial services to the mass market. Oviosu dreams of dual listing Paga on the NSE and NASDAQ in the nearest future.”
He also added that he hopes to transform lives by delivering innovative and universal access to financial services. In his words: “We think about the market in a broad and holistic way. Our services are for everyone banked or unbanked and businesses of all sizes.”
Oviosu advised business owners and entrepreneurs on building a strong team that will drive the vision for the brand, business or company. “If you do want to go far, you need to bring people around to your idea. It shouldn’t be about ‘me’. You want other people to come in to actually help take the idea to another place.”