“Since day one, since we started the company, we always thought that the model we would create in the U.S. could be applicable across multiple global markets,” Williams said.
After a high-growth year and successful Series A that closed in February 2021, the two took a step towards achieving their global goal by traveling to Nigeria to learn the market and meet others with a like-minded objective: to make a positive impact on communities that need it most through fintech.
With support from investors, VCs and Endeavor team members in the U.S. and Nigeria, the Endeavor Entrepreneurs were able to prepare and ultimately connect with many influential voices in the Nigerian financial market.
“Before we got there, Endeavor set up calls with numerous folks. One of them was a CEO at a leading bank in Nigeria, as well as some of the members of the Endeavor Nigeria office,” Williams said. “We were not going to Nigeria blind. We learned a number of things before we got there.“
Over two weeks, Rodney and Travis immersed themselves in the Nigerian market to investigate and learn about global financial services. In addition to hosting a hackathon for emerging engineers and investors, the SoLo Funds founders met with bank CEOs and media sources, toured the University of Lagos’ Entrepreneurial Center, and visited a number of entrepreneurs and their companies, including Endeavor Entrepreneur and founder of Paga, Tayo Oviosu.
“I don’t think the relationships we created stop and start just because we are there in person. We are all entrepreneurs, we are all trying to build the most successful companies we can. All of us are trying to build global companies and learn from each other.” Williams said.
The two had many takeaways from the experience.
“We can’t stop thinking and talking about the fact that 80% of the population [in Nigeria] is under the age of 30. That was incredibly insightful to us as we think about the many legacy systems we have in place in the U.S.,” Holoway said.
There are at least five $1 billion dollar valued fintechs in Nigeria, and several fintech founders that are on their third or fourth company, something not everyone may know, but Williams believes should.
“There are interesting things happening in financial services. The community and the market wants to save, invest, and use digital products and services to better themselves,” Williams said. “Because the population is so young, they aren’t necessarily trusting the way their parents did it. They’re going to do it in a new and better way.”
That’s not to say these projections don’t exist in the U.S. Williams and Holoway actually identified far more similarities between the Nigerian and U.S. markets. Some were more shocking than others.
“It was really more of an affirmation for me. That someone can be in Lagos, Nigeria and have the same lack of resources as someone that lives in Brooklyn, New York,” Holoway said. “That’s insane and from the outside looking in, most people in this country would probably say there’s not many similarities when it comes to finance.”
“Endeavor continues to be an important partner in helping us research and learn about global economies and communities,” Holoway added. “If we were doing this on our own, it would take us significantly longer to make the connections and build the relationships we need in order to better understand global financial services.”
At the end of the day, SoLo’s goal as a social impact organization is to positively touch as many countries, companies and communities as possible. Their experience in Nigeria is just one part of a research and development project Holoway and Williams hope to continue.
Watch a recap of the trip below and learn more about the beginnings of SoLo Funds and the co-founders’ mission here.