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Feature News: Having Run What Is Now Africa’s Largest Bank, Uzoma Dozie’s Start-Up To Support SMEs Is One To Watch

Posted by Abeiku Ebo on

Feature News: Having Run What Is Now Africa’s Largest Bank, Uzoma Dozie’s Start-Up To Support SMEs Is One To Watch

Uzoma Dozie is the founder of Sparkle, a Nigerian-based online platform that uses technology to build a community of retailers in Nigeria. In other words, he is using technology to build the retail market in Nigeria and Africa.

The platform, which was launched in 2019, employs artificial intelligence to help users make sound business decisions. It is also to reach out to those in the informal economy with the sole aim of bringing them into the formal economy so as to ensure financial inclusion using the tool of choice – a mobile phone.

Sparkle is not a bank, neither is it a fintech platform in the traditional sense, Dozie explains in an interview with Forbes, although it provides financial services through technology.

“Why? Because we know that our customers are on mobile – they are digital natives and digital aliens,” Dozie says. “They are building their e-commerce sites on their mobile phones, they are connecting with their customers [current and potential] on social, via mobile, they may already be trying to do their banking via their mobile phones. Mobile-first, second, third. So we have built Sparkle as a wrap-around to service their business requirements.”

Sparkle offers an array of services such as flexible payments, savings, and analytics via its Android and iOS mobile applications. The platform allows users to track daily, weekly, and monthly spending patterns, with detailed breakdown by category. One of its features, Sparkle Stash, is PiggyVest-esque as it lets users save towards specific goals, according to TechinAfrica.

Before starting his own venture, Dozie was the last Group Managing Director (MD) of Diamond Bank, Nigeria. As MD, he oversaw the growth of the Retail Banking arm of Diamond Bank to 18 million customers and also supervised the successful merger with Access Bank in April 2019, making the new institution Africa’s largest bank with 29 million customers, according to Forbes.

 

Apart from playing a lead role in the banking sector, he was equally active in the new media space. He hosted a tech-focused show called TechTurks where he interviewed leading entrepreneurs. He was also in charge of the angel investment and mentorship platform, Black-Knights.

Dozie says Sparkle is using the retail model that he used while serving as MD of Diamond Bank but focusing on a different market segment and also exploring ways to scale and support the unbanked and financially excluded in Nigeria.

“It’s an exciting time for retail in Nigeria, and Sparkle is amassing a tribe of like-minded people, self-starters, and problem solvers who are dedicated to using their talents to power the digital transformation of the financial industry. It is by no means a quick-fix solution, but we are committed to solving the unique and complex, changing needs of the Nigerian market,” he says.

Dazies says he has always been fascinated by technology and how to leverage it for change in the finance and business sector to ensure inclusion. He said it did not come as a surprise to him when he moved from the world of traditional banking to start Sparkle, after overseeing Diamond Bank’s incredible growth.

“This is why I decided not to sit back and lurk around boardrooms after I completed the Diamond Bank and Access Bank merger – I wanted to build on my 30+ years of banking and industry experience, combine it with my love and fascination of technology, and build a digital-first business from the bottom up,” he says.

On its website, Sparkle says it has transaction volume amounting to over $16 million, deposits to the tune of over $1 million, and a customer base of over 20,000.


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