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TalentQL, Nigerian Talent Recruitment Startup, Joins Techstars to Improve Global Reach

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African-focused talent recruitment and outsourcing company TalentQL today announced that it has been accepted into Techstars Toronto.

The company will join nine other startups in the accelerator’s class of 2021. This comes two weeks after Nigerian bus-booking platform Plentywaka announced its participation in the program as well.

TalentQL was launched last November by serial entrepreneurs Adewale Yusuf, Opeyemi Awoyemi and Akintunde Sultan. Before TalentQL, Yusuf co-founded Nigeria-based tech media publication Techpoint Africa; Awoyemi co-founded online recruitment site Jobberman; and Sultan founded nonprofit tech accelerator DevCareer.

The company has a “talent pool” developers join before passing through different assessments. Once the engineers pass the assessments, they can join the company’s “talent network” to access opportunities.

The pandemic accelerated the need for international companies to seek cheaper and remote talent around the world. TalentQL is hoping to tap into what it thinks is a gold mine. According to CEO Yusuf, the company, which is also U.S.-based, wants to decentralize access and democratize opportunity for Africa’s top tech talents.

For most of its local clients, TalentQL mainly assists with recruitment. The other model entails hiring vetted engineers for international companies, managing them, and providing tax and health insurance services.

“We’re coming to the market to support the talent with health insurance, some tools to work with and a community to be part of. These are some of the offerings I think sets us apart from other companies,” Yusuf said to TechCrunch over a phone call.

But despite that, the company has faced the same challenge that has plagued the space — the lack of senior engineering talent. When most engineers reach that level of expertise, they tend to leave the country to the U.S. and Europe for better opportunities or, better still, launch their own startups. It’s a problem Andela faced in the past, resulting in the layoff of 400 junior developers “due to market demand for more senior engineering talent.”

Yusuf says this is why the company is pursuing a Pan-African and diasporan play (Africans in the U.S. and Europe), hoping to fill in the gap with senior talent from these places. And to further consolidate its Pan-African ambitions, it is planning to open an office in Kenya in the coming months.

Although TalentQL is fully remote, Yusuf says this has to happen to establish the right kind of understanding between on-the-ground recruiters and the engineers.

“We want a situation where when we’re recruiting from other countries, our technical recruiters are from those countries. We want them to be able to speak the language of these engineers and understand the culture of their countries,” the CEO added.

TalentQL currently has over 100 tech skills available with more than 2,000 developers on its platform. These developers cater to clients from the U.S., Europe, Nigeria and Kenya. The CEO says the company is also in talks with some Fortune 500 companies to execute placements for their African expansion.

In addition to the $300,000 pre-seed secured last year, the 6-month-old company will receive a $120,000 investment from Techstars. But besides the funding, Techstars’ backing will be crucial in two ways, according to Yusuf. First is how it operates going forward in a crowded tech talent marketplace with the likes of Ethiopia’s Gebeya and Nigeria’s Decagon and Semicolon. The other would be helping the company to be a global company, not just an African one.

For Sunil Sharma, the managing director of Techstars Toronto and an investor in five Nigerian startups, Techstars’ investment in TalentQL gives the accelerator a chance to participate in the burgeoning tech talent space.

“The rise of Nigeria is more widely appreciated now in terms of technology sectors like finance, mobility and e-commerce, where talented Nigerians are not only bringing innovation and disruption but are doing so rapidly and at scale,” he said. “Equally as intriguing is the opportunity relating to talent itself as Nigerians and Africans across the continent are contributing more to supporting tech companies across the world, and we think this is just the start.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Flutterwave, 9PSB Partner to Boost Growth of Inclusive Financial Services in Nigeria

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Flutterwave, Africa’s leading payments technology company and Nigeria’s very first payment service bank, 9PSB on Monday entered into a partnership agreement that will help facilitate seamless financial services for Nigerians.

In a joint statement issued by both companies, the partnership seeks to create a seamless payment ecosystem by aggregating and simplifying transactions for banking agents, merchants, and consumers.

The partnership will also support the drive for economic growth through empowerment of the SME sector, entrepreneurs in FinTech and other industries, as well as contribute to the transformation of the informal sector to formal.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, held at the 9PSB head office in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, 9PSB, Branka Mracajac remarked that the collaboration between 9PSB and Flutterwave represents an important milestone in making banking services accessible to all.

According to her, the partnership supports both companies’ commitment to expand accessibility and serve as last-mile delivery of solutions to the unbanked, under-banked and underserved. She said, “9PSB, being focused on the presence in unserved, rural, and remote areas, has a unique business model that provides Agent Banking as a Service to our partners to drive financial inclusion. Expanding on our promise to deliver relevant products, with this partnership, our existing agents, partners, and customers will have a single point of entry to enjoy various products and services provided by Flutterwave.”

With this partnership, Flutterwave and 9PSB are jointly launching a suite of products to enable other corporate entities, FinTech, technology and other industries to take advantage of the robust end-to-end system available for payments, collections, and transactions for both the banked and financially excluded Nigerians.

Commenting on the choice of 9PSB as its settlement bank, Founder and CEO, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola noted that both companies share the same vision and are committed to one goal of powering seamless financial services. “At Flutterwave, we believe in an ecosystem of shared value that transforms and impacts society. We are showcasing the power of strategic partnership and cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s financial ecosystem,” he said.

A paper published by the CBN—Financial Inclusion in Nigeria; Issues and Challenges, admits that there is global consensus on the importance of financial inclusion due to its key role in bringing integrity and stability into an economy’s financial system as well as its role in fighting poverty in a sustainable manner. The partnership between 9PSB and Flutterwave keys into various calls for interconnectivity and interoperability amongst stakeholders in the financial sector in accelerating the country’s financial inclusion drive to create prosperity and grow the economy.

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HealthPlus Launches Digital ePharmacy and Access To Doctors

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HealthPlus Limited, the largest and fastest-growing pharmacy chain across West Africa is set to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry with the launch of Nigeria’s first ever e-Pharmacy. Nigerians can also now access a doctor or pharmacist instantly at a click.

Through the digitization of the Pharmacy and retail services, HealthPlus will now be transformed into a fully automated one-stop shop for Pharmacy Services Telemedicine Services Laboratory Services and, Beauty Consultation Services.

From the fully automated and interactive website, Nigerians can now access all the pharmacy services and consult a doctor right from the comfort of their homes or a click from their mobile phones.

According to Chidi Okoro, Chief Transformation Officer of HealthPlus Nigeria Limited, “we noticed a significant surge in online Pharmacy orders, and many customers organically resort to purchasing medicines online and getting them delivered at home. It is now considered not just the more convenient option, but the safer option as well.”

HealthPlus’ first-ever ePharmacy is in response to this shift and give Nigerians quicker access to the country’s best pharmaceutical care,

HealthPlus’ ePharmacy aims to deliver a user-friendly, all-inclusive online experience, that provides access to professional health care services using any device. HealthPlus ePharmacy is truly a ‘one-stop shop’ experience for health care services including telemedicine and laboratory services in partnership with healthcare providers such as MeCure.

In explaining the specialist nature of the ePharmacy platform, Chief Transformation Officer, Chidi Okoro also remarked that “our intention is to become the leading point of care for medicine use review, prescriptions management and pharmacist consultation services, by providing seamless end to end user experience. We will also be constantly updating our content with helpful information, articles, blogs, newsletters and company announcements.”

Amongst the new features, such as the “Speak To A Pharmacist” chat button on the site, the ePharmacy platform is interactive and gives better access to foster improved communication with our patients and customers. ‘

Afsane Jetha, CEO of Alta Semper Capital LLP, HealthPlus’s private equity investment partner, believes that this is another great stride in improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria by providing access to high-quality yet affordable medical and beauty supplies through a new and innovative platform. “We remain strongly committed to supporting the company strategically and financially in the years to come,” he assured.

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YouTube To Generate Over $280 Million From US Premium Subscribers In 2021

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YouTube Premium is starting to generate sustainable revenues from its paid ad-free subscription services. It took more than six years since relaunch to see significant growth. 

A recent report projects that with an estimated 23.6 million unique users by the end of 2021, revenues are expected to climb to $282.96 million in the US alone, representing an impressive +18% Year-Over-Year (YoY) growth.

Premium subscriptions are projected to top 25 million unique users by the end of next year, exceeding $300 million in revenues. By the end of 2024, totalling $334.52 million with nearly 28 million sign-ups. The projected revenues are expected to keep a steady growth after 2023.

Video streaming services are gaining popularity, growth accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic

In addition to promising growth in the US, YouTube Premium services reached 50 million subscribers globally since September, beating an important milestone. YouTube Premium’s recent success can be attributed to both Covid-related, as well as non-Covid-related factors.

The global video streaming market is expected to expand at a 21% growth rate between 2021 and 2028 – highly driven by the increase in smartphone and internet usage. Live-streaming, music streaming, the adoption of cloud-based solutions could all be contributing factors.

The HelpCenter app’s co-founder Ernestas Petkevicius commented on the continuous growth of YouTube Premium:

“YouTube is playing in its own category. I do not see any competition for user-generated content which is now the main driver of tutoring, know-how, and news/comments. YouTube has lots of quality content and an army of creators who rely on the platform as their main source of income. Music services and ad-free mode are only an extra catalyst for revenue growth. YouTube has no competitors when it comes to these services, therefore, the revenue numbers potentially could be much bigger.”

In terms of market shares, 39% of the video streaming market is found to be driven by the US and Canada, which would explain the US-driven revenue growth of 18% Year-over-Year (YoY). What is more, subscription-model accounted for 43% revenue share of the total video streaming services in 2020.

Music streaming is another possible factor for revenue growth from premium sign-ups. Music streaming market in isolation is expected to reach a good 9.8% growth between 2021 and 2027.

And even though video streaming was popular prior to the pandemic, the extreme acceleration in growth has been due to the COVID-19 crisis. As many countries declared nationwide lockdowns, people stayed home more, thus increasing the use of digital services like social media, as well as online video streaming. Consumer engagement on social media video sharing platforms like YouTube grew significantly.

Whether this growth is driven by the all-encompassing features (ad-free videos, YouTube TV, music streaming for $11.99), changes in the consumer behavior, or technological advancements, revenues from YouTube Premium subscriptions in the US are expected to keep growing at a steady rate.

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