It’s been a mixed year for business. A pandemic slowed things down quite early on, forcing companies the world over to make difficult decisions. Many struggled– and failed –to get past the tough headwinds that COVID-19 sent their way.
But others have powered on through the challenging conditions. A number of them have maintained their uniqueness and appeal, and remain beacons in their spheres. There’s even been room for some new ventures to strengthen their positions and show promise for future growth.
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In this article, we’ll recognize some of the outstanding brands from the year, and look at how they’ve managed to stay relevant.
Fintech company Paystack made the headlines in October with an announcement that it had been acquired by US-based payments giant Stripe. The deal, worth $200 million, was the biggest involving a Nigerian company this year.
Also in 2020, Paystack introduced Commerce, a toolkit that enables African designers to sell their products online.
Founded in 2015 by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi, Paystack currently serves over 60,000 clients including small businesses, banks, educational institutions, and government agencies.
Flutterwave helps process local and transnational payments across Africa, allowing businesses on the continent to receive payments from their clients.
The company played a major role in the #EndSARS protests, providing a portal for donations to the movement from the general public.
Flutterwave was founded in 2016 by a team of software engineers and ex-bankers. In 2019, Y Combinator valued it at over $150 million.
One of Nigeria’s biggest conglomerates, BUA is chaired by Abdulsamad Rabiu, currently the country’s third-richest man. Its production concerns are in oil milling, cement, sugar production, and real estate.
BUA was a prominent participant in the efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The BUA Foundation is said to have pledged ₦1 billion to aid the fight against the coronavirus. Their contributions included protective gear, test kits, and other medical supplies.
Dangote is regularly named one of Nigeria’s most valuable brands. It has kept this title over the past twelve months, thanks to its continued robust showing in the world of business, and its philanthropic involvements.
The Dangote Foundation played a leading role in corporate Nigeria’s coronavirus response efforts, donating funds, and equipping isolation centres.
Rise provides Nigerians with the opportunity to invest in dollar-denominated assets. It began as an investment club, and later developed an app that allows people to buy Eurobonds, US Real Estate, and US stocks.
This company has witnessed significant growth over the past year. Returns have been impressive, and investments have provided thousands of Nigerians with a cushion from the fluctuations in the naira’s value versus the dollar.
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Launched in 2019, 54gene is Nigeria’s first genomics research company. The firm is working to fill a gap in human genetics research in Africa, and provide knowledge of the genetic makeup of local populations that could aid the development of population-specific clinical therapies.
The company has played an active role in the fight against COVID-19, by providing vital testing capacity.
Also this year, it raised $15 million in its Series A Funding Round. The backing should allow it to scale its genetics research efforts.
This December, 54gene announced that it had set up Africa’s first private lab for human genome sequencing.
Telecommunications giant MTN has remained a dominant force in Nigeria’s business landscape.
The multinational is the second most valuable company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE). It has also continued to grow its revenues; its report for the first three quarters of 2020 shows that it raked in ₦975 billion, an increase of 13.9% over the previous year.
Thanks to its constant marketing and large customer base, it has stayed in the public’s eye and is still a fixture in the daily lives of many people.
Years ago, GT Bank built itself a profile as the bank of choice for millennials in Nigeria. It also strengthened its brand image by leveraging technology to make its services more accessible.
It hasn’t let off on these fronts. Agusto & Co., a top research and credit rating agency, has placed GT Bank Nigeria’s top digital bank for the year 2020. The ranking was based on user experience scores; according to the rating agency, GT Bank had obtained the highest customer experience index score of all the banks it had examined.
Innoson, Nigeria’s leading indigenous vehicle manufacturer, was named the country’s ‘Car Maker of the Year’, an award endorsed by the African Union Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC). The company saw off competition from other competitors, including several multinational automobile firms.
Founded in 2007 by Innocent Chukwuma, Innoson has become a symbol for what’s possible in Nigeria’s manufacturing sector when entrepreneurial willpower meets real opportunities.
The United Bank for Africa is one of Nigeria’s biggest banks and a major brand in the country’s business landscape.
Earlier this year, UBA announced that it was giving ₦5 billion to aid the government in its battle against COVID-19.
UBA has also made a mark elsewhere in Africa. Banker Magazine, a global finance publication of the London Financial Times, named UBA the ‘Bank of the Year 2020’ in six countries.
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