Adieu 2015!

I must say I wasn’t quite excited entering 2015. I was coming off a year with my highest highs (married an amazing gal) and lowest lows (entrepreneurial journey related but for another day). Also, with the upcoming elections in Nigeria who could predict how the year would go? I was mentally preparing for a very tough business year and possible political upheaval. Now the year is over I can say it wasn’t bad at all…

On the business front, Paga had a good year — we achieved a very healthy growth in revenues and continue to fire on all cylinders. On the key metrics we end the year with 3.8 million users (76% y/y) and now have 850k active in a 90 day period (we ended 2014 with 550k), and 9,000+ agents in 35 states. We processed ~7.4m transactions worth ~N70 billion. This year we have now crossed over US$1 billion processed all of time!

What I’m most proud about is the execution of our team and how we rally together to achieve. We don’t always get it right, in fact we have our fair share of issues to be fixed, but we work hard to ensure we resolve customer issues and are improving our service. Our goal is simply to be the best way to pay or get paid for any business or individual. This year we adopted Objectives and Key Results — brought to fame by Google, Intel and other companies — to drive our execution cadence. That has been very helpful and I’ve seen the improvement in our execution. I am also quite proud of our agents and how they continue to grow their businesses. Every interaction I have with agents makes me realize the impact Paga is already having in Nigeria — creating jobs, building an army of entrepreneurs in local communities across Nigeria. Paga ends 2015 with more financial service points than all the branches of banks in Nigeria put together. I hope banks see that the reason to partner with us — we will give them reach to the mass market.

On the personal front, I have learned a lot about myself. No one told me that marriage would be a journey of discovery about yourself. We moved out of my bachelor pad into our proper home this year…and are still furnishing but feels all grown up as we create our joint habits and ways to live together…I am incredibly grateful to my Affiong for being there for me and accepting me as I am with all my quirks…I am definitely a better person at the end of 2015 thanks to her and I am grateful for that (I’m still a work in progress). I hope I have been similarly as impactful on her growth this year.

Here are my key lessons in 2015:

  • Exercise — Going for a run or doing T-25 really helped me in my most stressful periods. I slacked off towards the end of the year with all the travel (and gained a few Kgs)…but I’m turning that around in 2016. I am going to run my 2nd half marathon in April so the training starts January 1st 2016.
  • Don’t internalize stress — This is a tough one, but it became really clear to me that I internalize stress. I found that as I shared the things that were stressing me out with my wife, senior leadership, board, or investors it really helped…I need to do more of that…
  • Share your passion with others — I think I’ve been doing this for a long time but this year I’ve had a few situations where people I met and shared what I am doing immediately wanted to be part of it and have invested in our business. Been amazing to see…also on the lighter note I love all the football banter on my Twitter timeline — Chelsea FC, the current reigning Champions of the English Premier League, are another passion I share about…I want to own Chelsea one day.
  • Less is more — in all aspects of life but especially business. This year we rallied our team around our agent network and it has been brilliant! In 2016 we will again focus on a very short list of areas and on out executing everyone and growing.
  • Be fair to everyone, and when you feel someone is not being fair, walk away…life is too short.

All in all, I’m happy to end 2015. I go into 2016 excited about the things brewing at Paga, looking forward to three challenges I have given myself (for another post), and continuing to live, love, and laugh with Affiong Williams!

Wishing you all a wonderful and prosperous 2016!

p.s. I recently was interviewed by My Africa Podcast. You can check it out here

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