In 2013, three key employees of Jumia left the organization after getting enough experience to further develop the booming e-commerce industry in Nigeria.

Three months after their departure, Adeoye Ojo, Babafemi Lawal and Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi launched, a website that is designed to increase the use of gift cards in Nigeria.

Employees with Big Dreams

Suregifts co-founders Adeoye Ojo, Babafemi Lawal and Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, are ex-Rocket internet employees.

The German-headquartered organization’s love affair with Nigeria understands no bounds — the serial-cloner has been strongly chasing the country’s fast-growing middle class for the last several years.

Jumia, basically an Amazon-clone, is viewed as Rocket’s leading West African business.

Samuel-Biyi joined Rocket Internet to build Jumia Nigeria as a Financial Reporter, before moving into different roles in areas of commercial planning, pricing, financial analysis — eventually managing the Children, Books and Drinks categories.

He also directs the business intellect team in purchasing and production division.

Ojo directs the organization intellect team in Jumia’s marketing division and Lawal lead Jumia’s company intellect team in its operations division as a controller analyst and has worked well in roles within business analysis and purchasing.

The Gift of Love, or the Love of Gifts?

Nigerians love giving and receiving gifts and to make this transaction simpler is what Suregift aims to deliver to its customers.

Supported by angel investments from believers and mid-sized VC / tech incubator such as Venture Garden Group — an ex-employer of Samuel-Biyi’s; Suregifts offers gift cards redeemable at high-quality merchant locations in Nigeria, that comes with a “Gift Specialist” service — a type of online shopping assistant.

Gift cards by merchants like Moma, Samsung, Adam and Eve, Mothercare, David Wej, Denaki Langerie, Deniartt, Abinibi, Booksville, China Bowl and Angelikas are only a sample of the companies that have joined Suregifts platform.

As the startup makes its money from revenue-sharing deals with its suppliers, the company ensures that it is constantly expanding its network of suppliers.

The gift cards can be filtered by location, gender, occasion, price and age.

If you’ve settled on a card, it is as simple as choosing the preferred gift card denomination, deciding the mode of delivery and adding an optional message to the recipient.

The recipient redeems the card either at a physical location or via e-mail.

How it Works is Simple but Hard to Execute

The startup also provides generic “Suregifts Gift Cards” that can be redeemed at any partner merchant — these cards do not expire.

Suregifts does not incorporate with active merchant systems. Instead, merchants use a voucher code verification system.

The system is supplied via the Suregifts Android app or a web. There’s also a choice of placing a phone call to a merchant line.

Suregifts is likely to roll out to other African countries, but its founders are candid about its issues.
Launched in January of 2014, the startup is still young and while the company’s founders don’t see direct competition, they admit a threat from point-of-sale prepaid debit cards.

Ease of Use and Originality as Competitive Advantage

The hope is however, that the uniqueness of virtual cards, or the ease of buying Suregifts cards will trump pre-paid options that

“are expensive to make, purchase and ship, and do not appeal to customers who don’t want just another ‘ATM card’ in their pouches,” says the company’s founders.

It’s not a bad outlook.

South African entrepreneur, Vinny Lingham’s gift card managing app, the company, has gone from strength to strength on the premise of putting your wallet on a diet.

Intriguingly, Suregifts is not an all-in-one virtual gift cards.
The startup’s marketing options for their physical cards target to add intimacy and personality to the gifting process.

Samuel-Biyi reckons that,

“these [physical pre-paid] cards are not personal or intimate enough, not redeemable at the best locations, and they lose their expected utility as a substitute to physical gifting because they imitate cash transfers with their debit card properties.”

Will it succeed?

Only time will tell.

Categories: Startups

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