Retail-tech startup Alerzo acquires payments platform Shago to boost growth

NIGERIA – Retail-tech startup Alerzo has acquired fintech company Shago Payments as it looks to build on already impressive growth that saw its annualized September transaction volume exceed US$155 million.

Founded in 2019, the Ibadan-based Alerzo is an all-in-one technology and services platform that transforms how Nigeria’s informal retail stores operate.

Retailers can order stock, have it delivered quickly, receive and make cashless payments, and track store profitability better.

Alerzo currently works with more than 150,000 informal retail stores.

The startup announced a US$10.5 million Series A round, led by London-based Nosara Capital, in August 2020, and since then has more than doubled its revenues and built a payments business.

The latter was facilitated by the recent acquisition of Shago Payments, a fintech startup founded by payments industry veteran Sabastine Enechi.

With Shago’s integration into AlerzoPay, the company’s payments arm, Alerzo now provides informal retail stores with a portfolio of new digital services such as mobile airtime top-up, bill payments, and peer-to-peer transfers.

Alerzo has also expanded its operations to the Middle Belt and Northern regions of Nigeria and now operates in Abuja and Kano. The company plans to serve most of Nigeria before the end of next year.

“I started Alerzo to help my mom, a single mother who ran two informal retail stores to support me and my three siblings. Before Alerzo, she had to close her shop and travel for hours to buy inventory to stay in business,” said Alerzo founder Adewale Opaleye.

“Women are often victims of theft because street boys know retail store operators often carry cash. I wanted to apply what I learned in China to make life better for working mothers in Nigeria.”

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, the co-founder of Flutterwave and Andela and a member of Alerzo’s advisory board, said most businesses “talk a good game” about financial and economic inclusion but then proceed to focus their businesses on commercially savvy mega cities like Lagos or Nairobi. 

“Alerzo’s focus on excluded but commercially viable commerce communities in smaller cities like Ibadan is exemplary and visionary. I’m inspired by their focus on communities that are truly excluded,” he said.

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