Thursday, May 24, 2018


MMM is trending here in Nigeria. Every week, I get an average of five invites across all social media platforms to join the MMM ‘movement’.  In the unlikely event that you have not heard of MMM, having just emerged from a cave to miraculously run into this article, MMM is a platform which in summary claims to operate a mutual aid programme requesting participants to provide money to others and promising returns of 30% of such monies after 30 days.

It is a global platform touted as a Ponzi scheme (as it obviously is) and reported to be operated by Sergei Mavrodi, a Russian jailed in his home country in the late 1990’s when his earliest schemes ripped Russians millions of Dollars and led to multiple suicides.

The Nigerian adaptation is an ingenious creation displaying an understanding of the culture, beliefs and thought processes of the typical Nigerian. Its model stands out as a lesson for all entrepreneurs looking to push their products into new markets.

Apart from these lessons however I have had the opportunity to discuss the platform with colleagues and there seems to be no debate on the status of the platform as a Ponzi Scheme as it does tick all boxes. See here for hints.

Regardless of its status as a Ponzi scheme however, I still get people telling me how it is still a useful source of quick cash before it crashes. For the following reasons, this position as pragmatic as it sounds does not quite resonate with me and, I believe, a lot of entrepreneurs out there trying to build a product.

Promise of big money consistently with little work


Entrepreneurs know that there are of course things that you can do to make money without having to work all that hard. But, it’s just not possible for everyone who joins a business to be able to make so much returns without working. Making money takes work. Entrepreneurs also know that NO business on earth can consistently provide such returns. Businesses have ups and downs simple.

The Principle of value

Real entrepreneurs understand that real wealth is generated from the creation of value and not from instantaneous windfalls resulting from concocted trade-offs. They understand the paradox of the lottery winner…money minus value does not equal wealth.

Understanding Money

Real entrepreneurs understand that money is really not valuable in itself. It is valuable because people agree to make it a medium of exchange for REAL value. Its utility lies in its use as current (hence currency) for the movement of value thereby obviating the need for barter. A system running merely on the exchange of money for profit is nothing but a SCAM. Participating in such a system like that only lends credence to the scam.

Not an investment


I have heard people liken the MMM system to investing in shares.  The comparison is laughable. When an investor buys shares, he is taking real risks to contribute into an entity that undertakes in the creation of some sort of value.

Investing in shares takes careful thought, analysis, and assessment. He does not expect consistent returns. By buying shares, the investor expresses faith in the vision of the company and faith in the management to execute the vision. It takes knowledge to avoid serious burns. So NO, MMM is not comparable to investing in shares.

The issue of focus

Entrepreneurs are busy trying to create and perfect systems, solve problems, devise innovative answers to challenges. They are bound to look at a get rich quick scheme as a mere distraction in terms of the time and resources to be expended into chasing a venture that provides no ultimate value addition to themselves or the society.

The moral question

If you are sure that a system is a scam propped up by the resources of naïve but trusting participants being manipulated by experienced “confidence men” with an uncanny understanding of human greed and a history of taking advantage of it, would you still support it with your money?

The understanding of risk

Proponents of the scheme tout the cliché; “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” because it paints the contrarian picture of a daring risk taker. Entrepreneurs however understand the difference between gambling and enlightened risk taking. A gamble is taken without the understanding or control of the variables which determine the desired outcome.


Investing involves enlightened risk taking premised on an understanding of key variables and a reasonable grasp of possible eventualities. If I commit to give my money to a scheme over which I have no control, because of returns of which I have no sight, I am not investing, I am gambling.

The times are hard. Nigerians are seeing the MMM scheme as some sort of saviour from the harsh realities of the current recession despite the obvious signs that it is not. To all those who cannot resist the temptation of quick easy cash, please proceed with extreme caution. To all those who do not participate in the scheme as a matter of principle, know that you are not alone.


About the Author: Enyioma Madubuike is a lawyer, writer and entrepreneur. Join him on Twitter where he engages in public interest discussions @philkingenyioma.

Many entrepreneurs can’t even remember to feed themselves. How can they take care of a baby?

I remember a time in 2011 when I was watching Paul Graham, the leader of a seed investment group called Y Combinator (YC), standing at a whiteboard with his toddler son teaching him about airplanes.

I’ve been married for 12 years. I’ve thought about having kids. But life and work, they’re just too hard. The only reason I was even watching Paul do this, was because I was about to have a meeting with him—2000 miles away from my wife.

I had temporarily moved from Chicago to spend three months in Silicon Valley to participate in YC. I left my wife back at home (I did this with her blessing. It was actually her idea. But I missed her like crazy). And, this wasn’t the first time I had to leave my wife for YC. I did it the first time in 2006.

But this is the deal we make—YC invests a little to help get a new company off the ground, and we commit to a three month program of living in Silicon Valley and spending a lot of time with YC.

Given that I’ve known Paul now for over nine years and been through YC twice, there’s a lot I’ve learned from the guy. Here are just a few of them.

1) Writing is important.

Almost 10 years ago, a friend of mine told me about something called Y Combinator. It sounded like an interesting way to get a business off the ground. They had just announced they were looking for their second batch of startups to fund.

But who the hell was Paul Graham?

Today, if you’re reading this article, you probably have some idea who Paul Graham is (Or PG as most people call him). But in 2005, I had never heard of the guy.

I didn’t know anything about Yahoo acquiring his business Viaweb, or his involvement in the Lisp programming community, or about email spam filters (he created one of the first Bayesian spam filters that still inspires what’s used today).

But he had all these essays and a book, Hackers and Painters, that immediately grabbed me.

His writing convinced me to quit my job, travel across the country to live with two other guys I barely knew, leave my wife for three months, take a massive pay cut, all to start this company.

That’s some powerful stuff.

It took awhile for me to get my own confidence and discipline with the craft, but writing is now the most valuable tool I have. It’s what helps me launch new products, market what I do through teaching, and propels my livelihood. If it weren’t for my own commitment to becoming a better writer, and what I do on my blog, Ninjas and Robots, I’d be an unknown software engineer struggling to get users.

2) Release early—painfully early.

Before my first stint in Y Combinator in 2005, I had tried to start other businesses. I had an idea for database administration software for mobile devices that was novel at the time. And even though I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working on it, I never launched anything. It remained a folder on my computer that no one else ever got to see.

As soon as we got to Y Combinator with Inkling, PG asked every single time we saw him, “Have you launched?” To get him to stop asking, we launched a ridiculously terrible first version of our product a few weeks after we started YC. It was painfully slow and broken. I had to restart our servers at least once a day to keep it running.

But it was out.

And that meant it wasn’t going to end up a forgotten folder on my computer.

It also meant, we had something concrete to start showing people. I remember sitting in a cafe with a guy named Marc Hedlund demo-ing Inkling. He complained about its speed. I was actively restarting our servers as we began our demo. But that demo still showed Marc something that no one else could do. Marc was the Entrepreneur in Residence at the time for O’Reilly Media.

O’Reilly became our first client.

Most people talk about launching early and lean development. But they’re still screwing around, adding features, and deciding how to align the text on their homepage.

Give yourself 24 hours or one week. Cut every single thing that isn’t ready. Launch already.

3) Create features. Talk to users. Don’t get scurvy.

There are endless distractions after you start a business. People want meetings, other startup founders want to get coffee, investors want to “touch base”.

But over the years, I’ve been vigilant about following this advice from Paul: “A startup founder should be writing code and talking to users. That’s it.”

Whenever I get an invite to do something, I remember how easy it is to lose momentum by doing things that don’t matter.

Just one caveat—take care of yourself. One group early in YC’s history got scurvy from the lack of care they took of themselves. Make stuff. Talk to users. But above all: eat well, sleep, and exercise.

4) Deals are meant to fall through.

Once as we were building Inkling we had a pilot deal running for one of the biggest software companies in the world—a household name. But, in order to upgrade the deal with them to a more significant commitment, we had to go through an intense process.

Things moved along, glowingly.

We easily passed their needs for single sign on. We got through one rigorous security audit after the next. The company’s employees were actively using our product, and there wasn’t a competitor in consideration.

I wish more of our deals moved along this well.

Until it died.

Just like that. Company changed focus. Budget got shrunk. So many hours of our time and theirs vanished.

But it didn’t hurt us. We never depended on a single deal.

PG always reminded us of deals with clients and investors, “Deals are meant to fall through.”

Until that contract is signed, don’t anticipate the deal to close—it likely won’t.

5) Be the cockroach.

Cockroaches are going to be the only thing on this planet that survives a worldwide disaster, thriving on garbage, in conditions no one else wants to be in.

PG has found his successful businesses aren’t successful because the founders are geniuses compared to other founders. The successful founders are the groups that don’t die. They keep getting another deal. They get the next user. They release another feature. They’re cockroaches.

Be the cockroach.

6) You don’t need Paul Graham.

I’m waxing poetic about PG, but the truth is, you don’t need PG.

A lot of people are surprised to find that he doesn’t spend a ton of time on my business. But how could he? YC funds 60+ startups twice a year.

Paul is looking for people who will succeed whether or not he’s given them the time of day. He can help accelerate your growth, and has helpful answers to all sorts of questions you have about running a business. But if you think you can’t start a business unless you get into some kind of startup accelerator like YC and get PG’s help, you aren’t going to get into YC and get PG’s help. It’s the Zen of starting a business with YC.

7) There’s going to be doubt.

Everyone loves launching a new product. When we launched Inkling it was exciting. When I launched my most recent product, Draft, thousands and thousands of people showed up. And then reality sinks in. It’s temporary. Where did all the people go? How am I going to make money? How can I get some momentum going again?

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 10.23.33 AM

That’s a curve PG draws. The launch of excitement and users, and then there’s that damn “trough of sorrow”.

Creating a business is full of rejection until you find the right thing. When running Inkling, I emailed a famous billionaire entrepreneur and investor. We had a bit of a back and forth over email. His last email back to me was deflating, “I don’t see a business here.”

But Inkling has been in business now since the end of 2005. It’s still running today. It’s had it’s ups and downs, ups and downs. But it’s paid for more than just a few people’s livelihoods over the years. And that was only accomplished because we got through that trough of sorrow.

8) Vesting agreements.

But not all of us made it through the trough. When we started Inkling, it was three of us. By the end of three months, only two remained. One of us couldn’t adjust his expectations of what startup life would be like to the reality of how hard it was.

I won’t go into the details of how much it sucks to lose a co-founder, especially one you consider a friend. But let’s just say, after us losing a co-founder, YC now makes it a policy that EVERYONE signs a vesting agreement.

If you are starting with partners, immediately stop what you are doing, and formally agree on what happens if one of you leaves.

9) There’s always room.

My second stint in YC didn’t go very well.

The company we started didn’t gel into something we could get repeat customers with. We made some deals, people seemed interested, but it just remained one of those things people treated as an experimental pilot project and then didn’t push very far. I took a six month break from entrepreneurship to work on the tech team for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and was back at it again six months later.

This time I started fooling with writing software.

Many people thought, or flat-out told me, “Writing software? How could you possibly create a business with writing software? There’s oodles of competitors. Not to mention Microsoft Word and Google Docs has the market locked up.”

But in one of PG’s early essays he reminds everyone, “There is always room. In a hundred years the only social networking sites will be the Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and Not likely.”

And sure enough, MySpace and Delicious barely exist now. Flickr is a shadow of what it was. He’s right, there’s always room.

So I created Draft, online writing software hoping to help people write better. And it’s a project that’s been growing in revenue 10% every month for a year.

Believe me, there’s room.

10) It’s ok to be a father

My father is awesome. He’s often the subject of my writing because he’s given me so many important lessons. But there are other great fathers I’ve gotten to observe. I can’t get over that image of PG already teaching his young son something as complex as airplanes, and both of them thoroughly enjoying the conversation.

It’s images like these that I wanted to have myself. I couldn’t keep putting the complexity of startups, work, life, etc. above trying.

On May 17, 2014, my wife gave birth to our daughter, Addison Chase Kontny.

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 10.23.45 AM

I can’t wait to teach her. Shockingly, the experience is actually a little easier than I anticipated. Though she probably just has me hypnotized by those eyes. Yeah, I think it’s the eyes.

Nate Kontny is the creator of Draft, a collaborative platform to help you write better. He’d love to meet you on Twitter.

Everybody knows that software is eating the world.

But have you ever been frustrated by what software developers say to you?

Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘I don’t know what they are talking about, but I’ll just nod as if I do!’?

Have you ever been asked a technical question about your idea/business, and then not known how to answer it?

Have you been frustrated by having an idea, but then having no clue how it could be implemented technically, and how to even begin?

If you are a non technical person who is looking to build a tech startup and you have no clue where to start or what to do, here are the 13 key things you must know about technology as a non-tech entrepreneur. Click here to continue


O.K, I think the title should really be… “GTBank brings blockbuster fashion to Nigeria! ” Now read about below as culled from GTBank’s website:

Leading African bank, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, has announced the debut of the GTBank Fashion Weekend which will hold in Lagos on the 12th and 13th of November 2016. The two-day consumer focused event is themed “Promoting Enterprise” and is set to create an ultimate fashion experience, where the most promising and talented retail brands will showcase the latest fashion trends and products to a large and diverse audience of consumers, fashion aficionados and industry professionals.

Positioned as a sequel to the GTBank Food and Drink Weekend, the GTBank Fashion Weekend is part of the Bank’s initiative to strengthen small businesses in key economic sectors through non-profit consumer-focused fairs and capacity building initiatives that serve to boost their expertise, exposure and business growth.
The Weekend will be headlined by top fashion industry experts, trend setters as well as locally renowned designers and style authorities. Attendees will be treated to a series of fashion events such as Entrepreneurial and Fashion Master Classes and Retail Exhibitions.

At the heart of the GTBank Fashion weekend are the fashion Master classes facilitated by renowned local and international fashion experts. This year’s Master Classes will cover relevant topics addressing challenges and opportunities across the entire industry value chain including: Fashion Entrepreneurship; Perfecting Design; Brand Positioning, Growth & Profitability; Product Development; The e-Commerce Leap and several others

Facebook has launched a new feature to let people buy and sell things with their friends and strangers.

The new tool, named Marketplace, is intended as a way of putting people in touch with others nearby who might be selling something they want to buy, or want to buy something they don’t need.

The company says that selling things on the site is already hugely popular – with 450 million buying and selling groups. About a quarter of people who visit Facebook use it as a way of trading things.

And so the new Marketplace is meant as a destination for people looking to discover or sell things with people around them.

An update to the app will bring it to Facebook users, who will be able to click on a tab and see the Marketplace view. It will sit where the Messenger icon does now – likely a signal of how much Facebook is looking to encourage people to use the new Marketplace.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the F8 summit in San Francisco, California, on March 25, 2015. Zuckerberg introduced a new messenger platform at the event.   AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON        (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

There, they will see a list of everything around them that’s for sale, and it can be adjusted to search for specific things or look in specific areas. If someone wants to sell something, then they can click on that same tab and – after posting pictures and a description – have their item go up for sale.

The feature uses Facebook’s algorithms to try and predict what users might be interested in. That information is initially based on the kinds of pages that a user has liked, but will eventually use people’s activity within the Marketplace itself.

Read more from here


When it comes to advertising, small screens are the new big screens.

This is what Facebook FB +1.08% chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says the company’s latest milestone — announcing 4 million advertisers on Tuesday — signifies about the growing importance of mobile to consumers and marketers. And while the majority of advertisers on Facebook are small- and medium-size businesses, Sandberg said many small businesses still need to catch up.

“This is a big announcement for us — 4 million advertisers,” Sandberg said in a phone interview. “We think it’s another proof point of the story we’ve seen for years, which is the move to mobile.”

Mobile dominates Facebook’s advertising engine. In the second quarter, mobile advertising made up 84% of total sales in the quarter, up from 72% in the same period a year earlier. Mobile ads, in particular, mobile video formats, have been key to driving Facebook’s impressive revenue growth.

The company’s global ad revenue is expected to total $23.31 billion this year, says forecasting firm eMarketer, making Facebook the largest ad publisher after Google. Facebook has also found success offering mobile ad campaigns across its flagship app and Instagram, which is forecast to generate about $1.5 billion this year, thanks to the app’s popularity among millennials. Facebook first announced 3 million active advertisers just six months ago.

“You’re seeing our accelerating pace of growth, and what this shows is this is working,” Sandberg said. “We’re delivering results for small businesses and helping people connect with customers where they are, which is on mobile.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the F8 summit in San Francisco, California, on March 25, 2015. Zuckerberg introduced a new messenger platform at the event. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Sandberg described mobile devices as “the fastest adoption of a consumer communications technology the world has ever seen,” noting that Facebook’s biggest opportunity lies in small businesses.

“The small screen is now big, because the small screen can do big things,” Sandberg continued. “This is now a really important place to reach customers, both because this is where customers are, but also because this is an exciting creative canvas.”

Sandberg noted that while 60 million businesses around the world are active Facebook Page users and the majority of Facebook advertisers are small- and medium-sized businesses, a significant number of small businesses struggle to manage their online presence. A third of small businesses in the U.S. don’t have a web page — and standalone mobile apps are even harder to build and get people to visit.

“While the small screen creates opportunity, it’s actually pretty hard for small businesses,” Sandberg said. Facebook has intentionally made business Pages as easy to start and maintain as personal Facebook profiles, especially on mobile devices, as many business owners manage Facebook Pages and ad campaigns on-the-go, the company said.

“We’ve worked hard to make our ads very easy to use, very simple, low cost and high ROI,” Sandberg added.

Facebook’s VP of global SMB Dan Levy said a top priority for Facebook is capturing the investment of small businesses that already have active Facebook Pages but don’t yet buy ads on the platform. Part of Facebook’s strategy is to make Pages as valuable as possible for businesses, even before they consider ad campaigns, Levy said.

“What I hear from small businesses around the world is their time and their money is precious, and we want to be the best minute and the best dollar that they spend every day,” Levy said. “We want to be number one growth driver for their business.”

Levy said Facebook is the “leading place” to run a video ad campaign as a small business. He said the number of advertisers using video ads is seeing “great growth” — as consumers seek more video content, they come to expect more video ads, he said. Levy said more than 20% of Facebook’s advertisers — about 800,000 businesses — have created a video ad in the last month, creating about 4 million video ads during that period.

“Video is a great chance to engage with sight sound and motion, and mobile is opening up new opportunities,” Levy said. “Over the past five to 10 years, only a fraction of those businesses could create a video ad because of the expense and technology required. Now with just a phone and a few simple tools, they can create compelling ad content to drive their business forward.”

Facebook said its fastest growing region for advertising is South East Asia, and its top five countries based on year-over-year growth are the U.S., Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico and the U.K. More than 85% of active business Pages use mobile, and 40% of active advertisers have a created a Facebook ad on mobile, the company said. The large majority of Facebook advertisers are outside of the U.S.

Last week, Facebook apologized for overestimating the average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years. Facebook said that its metric for the average time users spend watching videos was inflated because it only considered video views of more than three seconds. Facebook said it was launching a new metric to address the problem. In a post on Facebook, the company’s VP of advertising and global operations David Fischer said Facebook takes “any mistake seriously” and that the error “has not and will not going forward have an impact on billing or how media mix models value their Facebook video investments.”

“This error should not stand in the way of our ultimate goal, which is to do what’s in the best interest of our partners and their business growth,” Fischer said in his post.

When it comes to building a brand and converting prospects into customers, email marketing is still one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools. But in an era of one-click unsubscribe and a customer base highly attuned to the ways of marketers, how can small businesses make the right connections?

Step one: build the database

The days of buying a prospect database are long gone – that approach is a fast track to a bad reputation and an avalanche of unsubscribes.

Instead, firms need to actively capture the email addresses of both customers and prospects; pretty much everyone you come across.

It is also worth considering creating a single database that combines both sales and marketing information. This avoids duplication and errors and it also makes it much easier to track interactions. This way, your sales staff get insight into all the past prospect communications, including which emails prompted click throughs and which did not.


Step two: create the right content

Email marketing is not a one-off event; it is an opportunity to build a relationship. And that means not bombarding individuals with blatant product sales – that will do nothing to inspire confidence or demonstrate value.

Instead, organisations need to create content that is interesting, insightful and indicates an understanding of the market.

Step three: use an email marketing tool

It’s well worth running an email marketing campaign once a month. But with each mailing, you’ll have manage all the inevitable email bounces and unsubscribes manually and that can be an administrative nightmare.

You can save a lot of time and stress by using one of the many low cost email marketing tools on the market. Products such as MailChimp can automate much of this process; and if it is integrated with your CRM system, so much the better as that means your database will also be updated automatically.

Step four: measure effectiveness

Email marketing tools provide valuable information about the success of each email campaign – most notably click through rates (CTR).

By combining your email marketing tool with your CRM you can add relevance to that data – correlating the number of leads generated and sales closed provides a direct financial ROI figure that can help you improve your on-going email marketing activity.

Step five: increase sophistication

Once you have mastered the process of sending regular, relevant and interesting emails, you can further fine-tune your email strategy. One way to boost your results is to split the email campaign between customers and prospects and refining the message accordingly.

If the company has enough insight in the customer database to distinguish between hot and cold prospects, it is also worth considering varying the frequency of the emails; creating a stronger, more frequent relationship with those on the point of purchase, for example.


The key to success

Email marketing is all about building a long-term relationship and then closing the deal. The key to success is to get the right processes in place from day one and then use the data to improve your return on investment.

Copyright © 2015 Helen Armour, marketing manager at Really Simple Systems.

Nigeria has hunted down 700,000 firms that have never paid taxes as the country seeks new revenue sources to offset low oil prices that have pushed Africa’s biggest economy into its first recession in more than 20 years, its tax chief said.

Tunde Fowler, executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), said in a rare interview that he also expected 10 million individuals to be discovered by December and made to pay taxes for the first time.

The OPEC member slid into recession in the second quarter and militant attacks on oil facilities in its Niger Delta region have cut crude production, which provides 70 percent of government revenues, by around a third.

Planned loan deals with foreign lenders have yet to materialize, prompting the leader of the Senate to speak of an “economic emergency.”

The government, struggling to fund a record 6.06 trillion naira ($18.6 billion) 2016 budget that aims to stimulate growth by tripling capital expenditure, set FIRS a target of raising 4.95 trillion naira in taxes, up from 3.73 trillion last year.

Persuading Nigerians to pay tax is no easy task. FIRS does not appear to be on track to meet its target for tax collection so far this year, but experts believe it can do better in future.

“We collected a little over 2.3 trillion, so far – from January to 31 August. It is almost at par with last year but take into consideration that the economy is going through a little slowdown,” said Fowler.

He said revenue from value-added tax (VAT) had increased by 25 percent year-on-year and corporate income tax held steady over the same period but petroleum profit tax was expected to have halved, mainly due to low oil prices.

Fowler, appointed last year after a stint as tax chief in Lagos where monthly tax revenues surged by 70 percent in the four years to December 2012, said FIRS expects to generate 5.2 trillion naira in 2017.

Hi-tech inspectors

The tax chief said a new unit created at the start of the year had deployed inspectors armed with laptops to update databases, registering businesses and individuals who are then tracked to check whether they have paid taxes – business executives say they get “aggressive” visits from tax inspectors.

“We have been able to add about 700,000 companies and we expect to add about 10 million individuals across the nation [by December],” said Fowler, adding that this would bring the total of registered individuals to 20 million.

John Ashbourne, Africa analyst at Capital Economics, said Fowler’s target of doubling the number of taxpayers was “ambitious” and would be hard to achieve in a country where “paperwork is often lacking.”

But he said the projections for 2017 were “quite achievable.”

“Revenue will almost certainly be much, much higher next year, but this is primarily due to the devaluation of the naira, which has boosted the local-terms value of each oil barrel that is exported,” he said.

Even a doubling of the number of individuals paying taxes in Africa’s most populous nation of 180 million inhabitants, where 80 percent of the workforce is employed in the informal sector, leaves FIRS with an uphill struggle.

“From our estimates, we expect that we have 60 million individuals who should pay some form or level of tax,” said Fowler.

Three-year waiver

He said tougher enforcement would be combined with a planned waiver on interest and penalties covering the period from 2012 o 2015 under which people and businesses would only be asked to pay the principal amount of tax liabilities due.

“We will give them a 45-day window to come forward and register and that will make them eligible for that waiver,” said Fowler of the proposal, which was submitted to the finance minister this week to check she was in agreement even though FIRS has the legal authority to enforce the change.

“A lot of people who are not in the tax net are a bit jittery or afraid to come and register thinking that we might go back two or three years and the amounts might be considerable,” he said.

But he warned that those who failed to register for the scheme – which he said could be rolled out as soon as October 3 – would face stiff penalties.

People or businesses that did not come forward voluntarily would be asked to pay back taxes plus interest and penalties, he said.

“We will also consider criminal prosecution of chief executive officers or board members,” Fowler said.

He was cautious on the idea of an increase in Nigeria’s VAT rate which, at 5 percent, is among the lowest in the world.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde suggested a rate hike while visiting Nigeria in January and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo later said the government was considering tax regime changes to raise funds.

Fowler said it was part of the government’s remit to “take a decision” on VAT but he thought “the economy is not ready for a VAT increase right now.”

“The level of compliance was too low so that if we increased the rate of VAT it would be a punishment and unfair on those who are collecting and remitting VAT,” he said.

Lagos-based real estate classifieds start-up today has raised a $1.2 million Series A round of funding from Frontier Digital Ventures.

“The new funds raised will be used to improve the platform’s technology offering to both property seekers as well as that used by listing agents. The rest of the funds will be channelled into improved marketing efforts and aggressive expansion across Nigeria over the next 12-18 months,” says To Let’s Chief Executive Officer, Fikayo Ogundipe. was founded in 2012 as by four young Nigerian graduates –Fikayo Ogundipe, Sulaiman Balogun, Dapo Eludire and Seyi Ayeni. It received $230,000 in seed funding from Jason Njoku’s Tech company accelerator in 2013, and subsequently rebranded to Since then, the real estate classifieds start-up has quietly grown into one of the leading and recognizable online property portals in Nigeria.

 “Our Agents are much happier to stick with us because, unlike competitors who use subscription models, we collect commissions, which essentially makes our service a performance-based one and ensures ‘we don’t get paid unless our agents get paid’. The commission fee is the model locally operated among Nigerian real estate agents. Our research showed that Nigerian real estate agents prefer the model of sharing commissions on closed deals as against paying subscriptions that don’t have guaranteed returns,” says co-founder Sulaiman Balogun.

From inception till date, has facilitated over 8 million dollars in transactions value and currently boasts of roughly 20,000 listings online from a growing number of just over 3,500 real-estate agents.

Frontier Digital Ventures is a Malaysia-based investor in leading classifieds companies in emerging markets. Last year it invested $500,000 in Ghanaian real estate classifieds start-up MeQasa and has made several investments across frontier markets including Panama’s general classifieds and Pakistan based property website Zameen.

By Mfonobong Nsehe ,(

Harnessing the power of population growth; diversifying export earnings, creation of an enabling environment and investing in human capacity development are measures through which Nigeria can bridge its industrialisation gap and grow its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), stakeholders have said.

According to the stakeholders during a public policy forum lecture organised by Business Hallmark in Lagos, recently, Nigeria has the capacity to be ranked among top economies if it takes advantage of its youth population and engage in value addition.

Specifically, one of the stakeholders, acting Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BoI), Waheed Olagunju, explained that the double digit unemployment rate in the country remains artificial; noting that if serious and urgent attention is paid to value addition on the nation’s abundant natural endowments, there will be little or no manpower available to operate in the economy.


Indeed, the development finance institution (DFI) emphasised the need for Nigeria to be more productive going forward, maintaining that the nation’s huge population can be deployed to achieve this feat.

Olagunju said: “In the 70s when industry capacity utilisation was almost 80 per cent, Nigeria had to depend on expatriates to work in some of our industries and I believe we can still redeem that era. After the civil war, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was growing at about 11.1 per cent per annum because there were no dislocations and we were still dependent on our natural endowments.

“In the 1970s, some of our economic indices were superior to most of the developed economies of the world today. Given the nation’s abundant natural endowments, I am of the view that the unemployment in Nigeria is artificial. If we are to add value to our agricultural products and our solid minerals that are of commercial quantity, we will not have enough manpower to operate in the economy.”

He added that with an average population growth rate of three per cent every year, Nigeria must reflect the growth rate to its GDP, pointing that the wider the positive gap between population growth rate and GDP, the higher the quality of lives and the higher the per capita income.

“Now that we are in recession, we are reporting a GDP of less than three per cent and the nation is growing at three per cent which means that there is a deficit and if we go on at this rate, the more unproductive we will become,” he added.

He stated that most developed economies of the world got to where they are because they were disciplined, stressing that the nation’s core values have been eroded while urging for the need to invest massively in human capacity development to become a highly productive economy.

He emphasised the need for state governments to play their roles in implementing policies that will promote the ease of doing business and create an enabling environment for investors to operate.

Also the Attorney General, Ogun State, Dr. Olumide Ayeni representing the Governor, Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said the forum tagged “Restituting the past for a greater Nigeria” is apt and timely to put Nigeria on a sustainable path of economic development.

He said during the oil boom, the past administrations did not invest heavily on capital projects, stating that since the discovery of oil, the agricultural sector of the economy was abandoned.

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