Dear reader, permit me to introduce myself. My name is eNaira, and I will be traveling soon. I will be traveling because it is important I make this journey. A lot of good is riding on it. The spread of this good is dependent on the success and results of this journey. On this trip, I will be coming with my wallet. I call it “Speed”; and you will find me knocking at your door with it. You are probably asking why you care who I am and what this has to do with you. The answer is that you care because of my name; you care because of the weight it carries and what it signifies. You care because you hope; beyond the many doubts, you hope. And trust me, this journey is for you. It is for the entirety of Nigeria, and her welfare.
Why am I traveling then? Glad you asked. There are about 8 million Nigerians, most running businesses too, who, for reasons of being too far away, or being too scared, have not tasted what it means to buy, sell or own a share, have not tasted what it means to obtain a loan, do not know what it is to invest in assets, do not know by experience the benefits of buying bonds or buying foreign exchange. They have money, physical money, and all they do with their money is give it to another, receive it from another, buy an item, or give it as “change” when they sell an item. I want to change their world, because they deserve too to enjoy the benefits of having money make more money for them all on its own.
Why am I traveling? Because disability can be a reason for financial vulnerability, which in turn can lead to financial exclusion. Nigeria’s disabled population is an estimated 25 million. I carry Speed with me because it is a product built also with the disabled in mind. Definitely, there is room for improvement with Speed, as not all disabled groups might yet be able to directly interact with Speed, but a good number are, and that is a win for me.
I am traveling after taking my time to deliberately learn all known languages spoken from the borders of Sabon Birni before Niger Republic to Madagali before Cameroon to Brass before the Gulf of Guinea to Seme before Benin Republic to Lake Chad. The objective is to go where no POS service has ever gone. To go where no ATM has ever gone. To communicate in their languages, eat their food, show them how they can use the services I offer through an app if they have a smart phone, or through USSD, if they do not.
I carry with me the promise of further broadband penetration with the continual permeation of 5G in Nigeria. I carry with me the promise of and incentive to increasing the smartphone penetration in Nigeria from 32million users to far greater numbers. I carry with me the promise to address the concerns of the underbanked as well: financial service consumers who use informal and unregulated financial services provided by savings groups (like the Alajos and Esusu) and cooperatives. They may have bank accounts to their name, but rarely, if ever, use them, and opt to empty their accounts once they receive any funds in them. For them, I am prepared to formalize their savings mentality and visions, not just for the sake of including them into formal systems, but with a clear roadmap where the formal systems give them better than the services the informal systems do, with hard evidences.
Hills, rivers, valleys. City to city, state to state, hamlet to hamlet, village to village, my aim is the same. It would only take a little time, but it would be worth it in the end. What I simply need from you is that you come along with me on this journey, with your words, your solidarity, and where you can, your support via volunteering energy. This can be achieved. Imagine your aged uncles or non-formally educated aunties in the village getting access to financial services that can change their lives. eNaira is purposed exactly for them.
So, join in.
Blessing Joy Emeyonu is a spoken word poet, creative contributor for lifestyle and travel blogs and magazines, and a singer. Blessing believes in a Nigerian dream that sees positive change in the many aspects of being a Nigerian that has proved problematic start with the simplest, littlest things. This has been reflected in a lot of her creative pieces.