Nigerian mobile payments company Paga attracts foreign backers

Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga

When Tayo Oviosu quit his job in the US technology sector to return to Nigeria in 2008, he was a man in search of an idea.

In common with many other start-up visionaries, his eureka moment sprang from an everyday frustration: in his case the need to carry large bundles of naira because cash machines and card readers seemed perennially on the blink.

The result was Paga — the country’s answer to PayPal — which this year crossed the threshold of $1bn of transactions since inception.

Paga’s story would be notable solely for the light it sheds on the thrill-ride of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, where investors have tended to focus on the established oil and banking sectors rather than assume the considerable risks of starting new businesses from scratch.

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