Sparkle launched in the fourth quarter of 2019 by offering a personal account that lets individuals save, manage personal finances and send payment requests with one link.
In the period since, the startup claims to have more than 20,000 customers and processed $16m in transactions. Now, they are taking their journey a step further with small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria, by offering a suite of digital payments and business management services.
Uzoma Dozie, the founder and CEO, says the plan for the new product is to provide “a one stop shop, to help individuals to launch their businesses digitally, while meeting existing SMEs’ pain points, and allowing them to pivot to the next level of success.”
“We have been afforded this opportunity due to our extensive research and access to data, which allows us to know what exactly SMEs are looking for. We are truly excited about the initial results from the beta test and are looking forward to impactful results for small businesses in the near future.”
Sparkle for business will have four main components, according to the company; inventory and invoice management; payment gateway service; tax advisory; payroll and employee management.
Taken together, the new rollout is designed for small business owners who are familiar with digital platforms. The pitch is to help such entrepreneurs control payment requests, manage single and bulk payments, track business performance, calculate tax filings and administer employee benefits.
Sparkle users will find the services on the existing mobile app, though it is only for those who have registered businesses in Nigeria. New users are required to have a Tax Identification Number and an email address connected to the number.
The team at Sparkle love to emphasise that they are more than a digital bank or a mobile app. “We are not a bank, we are a tribe,” is the screaming slogan on their landing page. They hope to be at the intersection between individuals’ and small businesses’ finance and lifestyle aspirations.
In theory, that means relying heavily on data from the user’s behaviour and broader industry trends to recommend what might be suitable for each unique user. But as with other digital-only financial services solutions in Nigeria, Sparkle is still on a product-market fit journey and it is still unclear when any of the contenders will attain that height.
Dozie says Sparkle’s mission is to “allow individuals to be free,” a mission that is not unlike another Nigerian digital bank Kuda.
Dozie was the last CEO of Diamond Bank before it was bought by Access Bank almost exactly two years ago. The bank was known for experimenting with technological leaps in customer delivery. With Sparkle, the first-time startup founder’s agenda is to create a technology-first environment that challenges the banking status quo.
“We’re excited to roll out our new products and services, and to continue to grow an increasingly busy and entrepreneurial group of business owners who don’t want to accept that banking halls and physical paper trails are the only means of conducting business in Nigeria,” Dozie said.
Nike Most Marketed Sports Brand On Social Media With $617M Ad Value
American sportswear brand Nike created the most commercial ad value on social media in the sports industry in 2021. According to the latest data presented by Safebetting, Nike produced $617 Million worth of ad value through their commercial partners on various social platforms. They were followed by Adidas in the second spot.
Nike received $617M worth of Social Media exposure via 16236 partners in 2021
A recent report looks into top marketable sporting brands on social media. The report compares various bands in the sports industry and their sponsorship deals with athletes and sports organisations. It further analyses various social media engagements created for these brands and then quantifies the overall exposure into equivalent advertising value.
As per the report, at present, Nike has the highest number of commercial partnerships in the sporting industry at 16,236 partners. Hence, it should not be a surprise to see them produce the most ad value, $617 Million, through social media engagements.
However, it is definitely interesting that Adidas, second in the list with $343 Million worth of advertising value, doesn’t come anywhere near Nike. The German brand managed the distant second spot with 9,181 partnerships.
Airline company Emirates is a familiar sight in sporting events. However, the Dubai-based company is not a traditional sporting brand like Nike and Adidas. Emirates produced a $220m worth of ad value on social media through their 2269 sporting partnerships.
Spanish financial company Santander also relies hugely on sports to advertise themselves. They produced $187m value worth of exposure in social media engagements through their 1173 partners. Energy drink Red Bull is on the fifth spot of the list with $162m in ad value on social media. At 4611, Red Bull’s count of partners is significantly higher than Emirates and Santander.
German sportswear brand Puma comes sixth in the list. Puma is a popular sports brand, and it might surprise some to see them this low on the list. In fact, according to the report, Puma has the highest number of commercial partnerships in sports behind Nike and Adidas – at 4961. However, the company generated only $150m in social media ad value.
US-based insurance group State Farm comes in the seventh spot. The company has 978 sporting partnerships which helped it make $148m in ad value on various platforms. State Farm has a number of high-value partnerships across all major US sports.
Monster Energy occupies the eighth spot on the list. The energy-drink brand, currently purchased by the Coca-Cola Company, has 3023 partnerships in the sports industry. It benefitted with $143million ad value through its partnerships.
Indian-gambling company Dream 11 is an interesting case. It has only 167 commercial partnerships, but it was helped by $112m-worth of promotion on social media. Netherlands-based beverage brand Heineken is in the last spot with $109M in ad value on social media through its 1231 partners.
Burger King Expands to Nigeria
Burger King, an American multinational chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, has opened its very first restaurant in Nigeria to deepen its growing brand, support new job creation and enhance economic productivity in Africa’s largest economy.
The United States Mission in Nigeria has praised the improving commercial ties between Nigeria and the United States as American franchises and branches set up shops in Nigeria. This has in turn created more jobs as well as investment opportunities in the country.
This was said by the US Mission Commercial Counselor, Jennifer Woods during her speech at the opening of the Burger King outlet in Nigeria. Woods underlined the impact which new businesses have on a country’s economy, especially with a popular franchise like Burger King opening in a developing market like Nigeria.
She said that being Africa’s largest economy and a large youth population with a strong connection to the world, American brands must look at Nigeria as a highly critical market. She went ahead to state that while the companies will benefit from the expansion into the country, Nigeria itself will also benefit largely from their presence in the country.
Woods also described the addition of another American-owned franchise (one that emphasizes a culture of excellence) will help to provide job opportunities as the business expands to new parts across the country. She praised the high level of interest by consumers and the passion which they have for the iconic American rapid service restaurant since it began its operations in early November.
The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila congratulated Burger King and all its local partners on the intriguing business deal, explaining it as another signal of the benefits of a close business relationship between the United States and Nigeria. He also stated that Burger King is expected to open hundreds of outlets across the country.
Burger King entered into an alliance with local firm, Allied Food & Confectionary Services Limited in order to bring the American brand into the Nigerian market. The Group Managing Director of Allied Food & Confectionary Services Limited, Antoine Zammarieh has prior experience bringing United States rapid service restaurants to Nigeria.
Nigeria is Africa’s Most Valuable Nation Brand
Nigeria has held its position as Africa’s most valuable nation brand, with a brand value of US$236 billion, according to the latest Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021 report. Despite the turmoil of the pandemic, Nigeria has recorded a 9% increase in brand value – ahead of the 7% average of the overall ranking – and climbed two spots to 38th to reach its highest ever position.
Africa’s largest economy suffered its deepest recession in four decades during the pandemic but has begun its return to growth thanks to the recovery of oil prices as well as the government’s timely fiscal policies to protect the economy. In response to the pandemic, the government also launched an online portal and app aimed at upskilling its population as part of its Digital Nigeria programme and plans to install solar panel equipment on five million households – providing power those not connected to the national grid.
Babatunde Odumeru, Managing Director, Brand Finance Nigeria, commented: “It is thrilling that Nigeria continues to grow its brand value and maintain its position as Africa’s most valuable nation brand. While these results are mainly driven by GDP considerations, we need to start developing a framework that would enable us to get to a place where intangible assets such as innovation and strong brands are what is impacting our GDP.”
Total brand value of top 100 up 7%
The top 100 most valuable nation brands in the world have recorded a 7% increase in brand value since 2020, signalling that recovery is underway from the COVID-19 pandemic according to the latest Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021 report.
Although this is a positive sign, uncertainty still lingers and the recovery has not reached pre-pandemic levels yet. At US$90.8 trillion, this year’s total brand value of the top 100 ranking is 7% lower compared to 2019.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “Unlike previous economic crashes, recovery is uneven and is pinned on the combination of initial COVID-19 response strategies and a successful vaccination rollout. We are starting to turn a corner, as the world’s most valuable nation brands begin to return to pre-pandemic brand values. But results are varied, and it may take years for some to recoup lost brand value, creating even greater disparity between the most and least valuable nation brands.”
US & China lead the pack
There has been no movement in the top 10 this year, with each nation retaining its rank from last year. All the top 10 have recorded a modest uplift in brand value, however, in line with the global trend across the ranking.
The United States and China remain in a league of their own, claiming the first and second spot in the ranking, respectively. The US has recorded a 5% brand value increase to US$24.8 trillion in a year that has been marked by great political and economic change with President Joe Biden taking the helm. Similarly, China saw a 6% uptick in nation brand value to US$19.9 trillion. Both nations have celebrated economic recovery since the outbreak of the pandemic, contributing to their uplift in brand value. China’s economy was the first to recover – doing so at a meteoric pace – as the only nation to register positive GDP growth at the end of 2020 and growing at record pace in the first quarter of this year.
Many thought that relations would improve between the two superpowers under Biden’s leadership, following the turbulent Trump years, but this has not been the case thus far.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “The superpowers from the West and the East unsurprisingly dominate the Brand Finance Nation Brands ranking, with China remaining hot on the heels of long-standing leader, the US. With China’s recovery and economic rise showing no signs of slowing down, as growth hit a record high at the beginning of the year, no doubt the gap will continue to close in the coming years.”
Digital Estonia is world’s fastest-growing nation brand
Recording a 38% brand value growth from last year and outpacing modest increases across the ranking, Estonia is the world’s fastest-growing nation brand of 2021. The Baltic state had invested in digital infrastructure long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Anyone around the world can apply for e-residency in Estonia, which allows them to run an EU-based company online, and a staggering 99% of the country’s governmental services are offered online.
The advanced digitisation of the country put it on the front foot during the pandemic. On the same day the government announced a state of emergency, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications launched an online hackathon to identify solutions to pandemic-induced problems, resulting in a chatbot to answer the public’s queries and the re-purposing of online platforms to match volunteers with those in need.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:
“Estonia is this year’s fastest-growing nation brand largely thanks to its world-class digital infrastructure. With some of the leading economies having their digital shortcomings highlighted during the pandemic, Estonia’s digital-first model should be one for others to follow.”
Myanmar and Ethiopia are fastest fallers
In stark contrast, Myanmar and Ethiopia are among the fastest-falling nation brands in the ranking. The unrest across the two countries has caused significant damage to their nation brand values, which have dropped 26% and 22%, respectively.
Brazil has also suffered a steep decline in brand value as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on its society and economy. The continent’s largest economy, Brazil has lost 12% of its brand value this year and dropped out of the top 20 in the Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021. Famous for its vibrant culture, lifestyle, and sports, Brazil is the highest-ranked South American nation in the ranking, but the combination of high COVID-19 cases and damage to the agriculture sector from severe droughts have caused substantial damage to the economy.
Switzerland is the world’s strongest nation brand
In addition to measuring nation brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of nation brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating brand investment, brand equity, and brand performance. The nation brand strength methodology includes the results of the Global Soft Power Index – the world’s most comprehensive research study on nation brand perceptions, surveying opinions of over 75,000 people based in more than 100 countries. According to these criteria, Switzerland is the world’s strongest nation brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 83.3 out of 100.
Switzerland’s BSI score has remained stable, while the nations around it saw theirs take a hit, resulting in Switzerland moving to the top spot for brand strength. According to Brand Finance’s research, the Alpine nation saw external perceptions slightly rise following its strong response to COVID-19. It used a mix of compulsory and non-compulsory measures during the pandemic to control the spread of the virus. For example, non-essential businesses had to close, but the government’s order to stay at home was only ever advisory – entrusting the people to make the decision for themselves.
This is reflective of Switzerland’s model of government, with the public allowed to voice their opinions on laws through frequent referenda – last year the population rejected a motion to end its freedom of movement agreement with the EU and voted to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:
“Small size is no barrier to occupying a solid position for nation brand strength and Switzerland securing the top spot this year is the perfect example. Switzerland has held firm whilst other nations have faltered over the course of the pandemic. The nation has recently been thrust under the spotlight, however, with the leak of the Pandora Papers, which could taint its reputation as Swiss financial advisers are scrutinised on the global stage.”
Germany slips to 5th
Last year’s strongest nation, Germany, has dropped down to 5th position in the brand strength ranking, following a 2.3 point drop in BSI to 82.6 out of 100. Despite garnering praise on the global stage for her strong and stable leadership spanning 16 years, Angela Merkel sees mixed results on home soil. Domestic perceptions are consistently less favourable across the metrics to their overseas counterparts, particularly in regard to the Global Soft Power Index Business & Trade and Influence pillars.
Australia and New Zealand move into top 10
Australia, up five places in the ranking to 6th, and New Zealand, up seven places to 10th, have both entered the top 10 for brand strength, with BSI scores of 81.3 and 80.2 respectively. The Australasian countries were deemed to have handled the early days of the pandemic extremely well. Both were lauded for their severe lockdowns and quick reaction to subsequent outbreaks, which resulted in minimal cases and allowed them to open back up internally considerably earlier than others.
At the time of our research, both scored well across our data points with internal and external perceptions of their handling of the pandemic. However, the vaccine rollout in both countries has lagged behind their global counterparts, which could hamper their BSI scores moving forward.
Breaking the Western monopoly
Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have broken the Western monopoly in the brand strength ranking, claiming 4th and 11th position respectively. Scoring particularly high for Global Soft Power Index pillars of Business & Trade and Governance, Singapore continues to prosper both in the Southeast Asian region as well as globally. The city-state – renowned for its high-quality and economically efficient healthcare – has already fully vaccinated 82% of the total population. Singapore is on the right path to achieve the government’s aim of a “whole new normal”.
The UAE has climbed three spots in the brand strength ranking following a 2.5-point increase in its BSI score to 79.1 out of 100. Overseas perceptions of the nation’s prowess in the Education & Science pillar are high, and the successful Emirates Mars Mission is clearly a factor. The UAE also stands out for its COVID-19 response, and scores high for the Influence and Business & Trade pillars, both of which should see a further boost from Expo 2020 inaugurated in Dubai this month. The UAE’s continued increases in brand strength and value are testament to the nation’s strategy of diversifying its economy for long-term growth.
COVID-19 hurts perceptions of world’s largest economies
At the same time, the UK, US, Japan, and France have all fallen out of the top 10 strongest nation brands ranking due to the perception of how they handled COVID-19.
The UK, falling from 2nd to 14th with a BSI score of 77.4, and France, falling from 9th to 16th with a score of 75.4, recorded average Global Soft Power Index scores for overseas perceptions of their handling of the pandemic, but perceptions domestically were particularly low.
Japan, falling from 7th to 15th with a score of 76.7, saw a similar story with the perception at home that the pandemic was mishandled. However, this is polarised when compared to their perception abroad, where it achieved some of the highest scores in the Global Soft Power Index research.
The US, dropping from 4th to 17th with a score of 75.1, saw poor scores at home and abroad, and was also one of the lowest ranked nations by the specialists.
Despite their brand strength taking a hit, these nations all still feature in an unchanged top 10 when ranked by nation brand value.
David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “It will be important for the world’s largest economies to focus on making up the ground they have lost in brand strength, in order to protect their brand value. The UK, US, Japan, and France have all scored poorly domestically for their handling of COVID and they need to rebuild this trust with their respective populations.”
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