‘COVID-19 Made us More User-Centric’ – Piggyvest’s Odunayo Eweniyi Speaks on Scaling Through Crisis
Online conferences have become a widely adopted means of getting meaningful discussions going. Very recently, BusinessDay’s Lehle Balde hosted Piggyvest COO, Odunayo Eweniyi in an episode which spanned topics from Piggyvest to Odunayo’s journey as an entrepreneur and scaling through the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are the major takeaways.
Piggyvest was established to solve a genuine need
According to Eweniyi, the idea for Piggyvest started from a tweet that went viral about a lady who had been able to save #365,000 in her traditional piggy bank. Everyone was talking about it and declaring it their new year resolution.
Piggyvest CEO Joshua Chibueze said the traditional piggy bank could be modified into something more sustainable and digital and that is how Piggyvest started. Currently, Piggyvest has over 1.2 million users and has been used to save over $150 million and runs completely on technology.
Financial inclusion should be refined to meet the requirement of the informal sector
The approach to financial inclusion in Nigeria needs to be refined, in Eweniyi’s opinion. This is because a lot of financial solutions are targeted at people who are considered to be financially excluded. While those solutions may be great, they may not necessarily be what people who are outside the formal economy need.
Understanding what people need and why they are not using the formal banking sector is crucial because the fact that people are not using the formal banking sector does not mean they are not banking at all. Giving a hypothetical figure of people living in poverty, Eweniyi said it is crucial to ask if entering the formal banking economy is the next step for that category of people.
Identifying the needs of that category of people and knowing if they need savings or credit should then inform the financial solution that is created.
Lots of business processes have been slowed down
Similar to what other businesses are facing, the Piggyvest team has had to work from home. However, this has not been a major departure from what was obtainable before as people sometimes worked from the comfort of their homes before the compulsory stay-at-home came into play.
A lot of processes have been slowed down, including fundraising processes. However, for Piggyvest this has caused it to be more user-centric and focused on deciphering what its users need at this time. She said this has resulted in Piggyvest really leaning into the personal finance aspect of the business and focusing on helping people stretch their resources.
The present reality is also prompting people to prepare for post-pandemic and to save towards that time.
Understanding that people will need the money they have saved up during the pandemic period has prompted Piggyvest to make its liquidity more available so that people get their money the instant they request for it.
Leadership, communication and welfare have become more personalised
Due to the novelty of the present crisis, businesses are having a hard time dealing with its effects. Adapting new measures has been necessary to keep the company afloat and ensure the team is doing okay.
In addition to the company working to survive the crisis and meet payrolls, communication and welfare have taken a more personalized approach. This entails one-on-one calls, welfare check-ups, finding time to laugh together at jokes and create a sense of normalcy in spite of the obvious challenges.
Leadership is not just about checking on its people but also providing the resources they need when they check the care boxes that the company makes available from time to time. It is more of doing the little things like checking up on their health, making health insurance available, and making sure everyone is feeling okay and doing good.
Honesty and transparency are important when dealing with a crisis
Transparency and Honesty are very important, particularly at this time. It is a very difficult time, employers and employees alike know that. The best thing is to be upfront with the team if the company is going to make tough decisions.
If there will be pay cuts, employees should be the first to know. Conversations around the challenges should not be sidestepped. The other part of it is to do everything to survive, innovate as much as possible and try your best to survive the challenges.
So, for Piggyvest, the two major pillars for this period has been Survival and Transparency.
For Odunayo Eweniyi, the journey of entrepreneurship has largely been a self-taught one. One of the tenets she holds with her team is the practice of looking at a problem and asking ‘So, what are we going to do about it?’.
Sharing with Balde, she said “technology is a very male-dominated area. If you have managed to kick the door open, it is your responsibility to hold the door open so that other women can walk through as well.”
The Piggyvest company culture is one that encourages equal participation of women. With a 50-50 gender balance in the company, male and female are hired based on expertise and irrespective of gender. This has helped to promote respect and healthy self-esteem of staff in the company.
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