AfrikaTech went to meet Eleanya Eke Urum, a young Nigerian serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Cashestate. Cashestate is a Nigerian startup that aims to facilitate investment by Nigerians in Africa and around the world.
Introduce yourself and your journey
My name is Eleanya Eke Urum. I studied accounting and finance, worked in financial services consulting for a few years. I spent my first 19 years in Nigeria and the next 10 in the United States. I’m passionate about a lot of things, but finance and investing are very close to the top for me and that has taken me down the path of trying to build companies to address some of the needs in that space.
What is your project and its mission?
Our company is built around a few simple ideas: first, dollar-denominated investments backed by real assets will provide the best long term returns for any person, second, you need to have investments that naira inflation and potential devaluation cannot affect, and third just because you live in Nigeria or you’re not Dangote and co does not mean you shouldn’t have access to great investment opportunities within the country and around the world. Our goal is to build a new kind of asset management product that uses technology to connect people to the best, most consistent returns wherever we can find them but especially beyond our shores.
How did you get the idea to start your business?
Around 2014 when oil prices started crashing, it occurred to me, and I even made a post on my finance blog, that Nigerians need to switch their investments and savings into dollars. But there weren’t that many places I knew at the time that they could do that, or try to access global investment opportunities. I talked to a few banks and asset managers at the time, but no one seemed really interested in this. Around that time, I started talking with my friend Timi about how Nigerians can move money around the world more seamlessly, which is an obvious first step to being able to invest globally. Timi also was super passionate about crypto and how it sets value-free, at least geographically. So that led to he and I, along with Ire Aderinokun getting together to build Bitkoin Africa, which became BuyCoins. At the same time, I realized that crypto due to its peculiarities wasn’t the best investment instrument for the average person, and I wanted to build something that offered users a more fundamental and stable returns profile. That led me to get back to the drawing board with my current team and led us to eventually build Cashestate.
Can you introduce your team?
Sure! They’re the secret sauce. My buddy EJ worked for years at one of the biggest mortgage originators in the US. Bosun was one of the first developers to graduate from Andela and he’s done amazing jobs at a few other places. He’s always wanted to build around financial products and so it was really easy for us to get together on this. Then there’s Tunde, our lead designer, Ope who handles front-end development, Otas who helps keep things running on time and then Dami, who like me has years of experience around finance and asset management here in Nigeria. Uloma who takes care of our customers on a day today. They’re a great bunch. I couldn’t do any of this without them. They allow me to really focus on the few key things that help drive us forward.
What is the problem solved by Cashestate?
A number of them.
- Naira investments have to contend with a high inflation rate. So while you have a high quoted rate of
return, inflation destroys a lot of that value. You’re actually earning, in real inflation-adjusted terms, a far lower rate of return than what you think, in some cases negative. So keeping investments and earning returns in dollars is a really great way to ensure that you’re doing much better. Not only are you enjoying higher real returns, but in case of a devaluation, you come out even better. But then all dollar investments are not created equal.
- Our investments are backed by real estate that have been thoroughly vetted so they’re more likely to perform well during a recession, they’re not as correlated to stock markets, their returns are more consistent, and they always increase in value over time. These are all things that the average investment open to Nigerians don’t do. And even those who are doing well, need to add a portion of their investments to Cashestate to provide diversification. We offer something that will stick around, grow and compound over time without losing value. So if you want to retire well, you want to save for future goals, you want to put money away as you work, we have the best solution I think, for you.
What is your business model?
It’s really simple. We charge 2% management fee, and then take a cut, about 15% of the profits we generate for you. We are confident you will make money so we are willing to make money only when you make money. The 2% management fee really just covers the costs of managing your investment, doing research and deployment. Our money is made from the percentage we charge.
What are the next steps?
Currently, we’re primarily on the web while we plan to launch a mobile app within the next few months. We’re also opening up investments into a lot of other countries, asset classes and a whole class of alternative investments. It’s really just a focus on serving our users well and helping them build a solid base of financial assets that perform well.
What do you need and how can AfrikaTech help you?
We definitely need more people to know about Cashestate, especially with the connection we want to have with not just Nigerians but Africans in general. We want to connect to Kenyans, to Ghanaians, to Congolese, to everyone across the continent.
What are the contacts of the startup? Website, email, Mobile / WhatsApp, links to social networks? www.mycashestate.com
@cashestate on IG @mycashestate on Twitter Cashestate on Facebook and LinkedIn.