Despite Nigerian economy sliding into
recession in the second quarter of 2016
and the naira continuing to suffer setback
in the money market in spite of the
flexible foreign exchange policy by the
Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, some
entrepreneurs believe this is just the right
time to invest in the country’s nascent e-
commerce sector.
Economy
Eghosa Omoigui, the Managing Partner of
EchoVC Partners, a venture capital firm
that has invested millions of dollars in the
Nigeria e-commerce sector told Vanguard
in an interview that investors who pay
much attention to the macro negativity of
the economy will miss out on spectacular
opportunities.
According to him, all the negative
narratives about the Nigerian economy
are at the macro level and do not affect
the micro-economy where most
ecommerce activities are taking place and
opportunities remain unchanged.
He said: “The entrepreneurs we find here
have very high conviction, whether or not
the economy is doing well or not. The
economic changes, do not necessarily
negatively impact the needs for some kind
of goods and services. In some instances,
the worst economies actually make the
needs greater. So, we invest in companies
that serve the micro-economies. What we
hear is a micro data. It is macro
negativity. But there is micro positivity. At
the micro level, nothing is going to
change.”
He added: “There is no doubt that some
investors are pulling back. They are
pulling back on deals that we are aware
are getting done but are suddenly getting
delayed and lengthened, because they are
becoming way more cautious because of
what is happening in the macro-economic
environment. But that certainly has not
changed us. Our companies are growing.
If we had come in and got scared by
what is happening in the economy, we
would have definitely missed out on some
spectacular companies. And I have learnt
from my investing experience that most of
my significant deals came at a time of
uncertainty and fear.”
Founder/CEO Hotels.ng, Mark Essien, is
also one of the e-commerce
entrepreneurs spreading optimism about
the sector. He said that although the
Nigerian economy has fared badly in the
past one year, “it is not all terrible for
everyone.”
Fielding questions from Vanguard on
what inspired his conviction, he said: “The
best time to invest is usually when prices
are down. Right now, the Nigerian
economy is such that building factories
and purchasing many things are cheap.
Sooner or later, things will recover and all
that was built in the time of cheapness
will still be producing.”
Essien raised $1.2 million in 2015 to build
Nigeria’s largest hotels booking website,
Hotels.ng. Like Hotels.ng, other operators
like SlimTrader, TravelBeta, Printivo all
raised various sums from investors in
2015 but since this year, little has
happened in terms of investment in the
sector, a situation Essien believes will
change significantly within the remaining
period of the year when investors realise
how the current economic reality portends
attractive opportunities for the sector.
He said: I think that in the 3rd quarter and
4th quarter of the year, we will see a lot
of investment deals being announced. Of
course, many investors will be worried
about the poor economy, but the best will
realise that this is a good time to invest. A
dollar is worth a whole lot more now –
and this will allow companies build much
cheaper than they otherwise could have.
Investors will see this and will invest
appropriately.”

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