When the idea for Pivo first came to us early in 2021 we had a clear vision – to build a product that closed the financing gap for SMEs in African supply chains. My cofounder, Ijeoma Akwiwu, quit her full-time job at a top engineering firm. I quit mine a few months later and we threw ourselves into building our MVP. We contracted developers and designers and work started in earnest.
A business is not a balloon that floats with a few puffs of air. We bootstrapped at the beginning but we needed more money. And so the pitching phase began for our pre-seed funding round. The nos and maybes came hard and fast. In August, we got our first cheque from FirstCheck Africa which opened the doors for us. We ended up raising $200,000 more than we had projected.
On 26 October 2021 we launched with Pivo Capital.
The past year has been one of non-stop growth. We set targets for ourselves and blew them right out of the water. We were doing numbers that showed we had a viable product but we didn’t have enough credit lines to support our loan portfolio. The business needed more capable people – Ijeoma and I were handling multiple positions and we could smell the burnout just ahead of us. So we did what we do best – faced the challenges head on.
We focused on activating credit lines with financial partners. And we’re proud to say that one year on, we have almost matched the pace of our loan portfolio growth. In Q1 2022, we launched Pivo Business, our team has grown and we’re currently hiring more people.
What success looks like in one year
At the heart of Pivo is making it easy for small businesses to achieve sustained growth. And that for us is our biggest achievement – knowing that 300+ businesses and ecosystems use our products. We’re grateful to our customers because the Pivo story is one of leveraging and building relationships. Our customers are our marketing partners within the supply chain industry.
Something that is important to us as a business is to let our work speak for itself. You sometimes still hear older people say, “Don’t praise them too much so it doesn’t go to their heads.” We, however, cannot deny the place of external validation and we promise, we don’t let it go too much to our heads. In 2022, we got into Y Combinator S22 Batch, Black Founders Fund and VC4A. Each acceptance told us, “You’re doing it right” and we used it as fuel to set higher targets.
Our biggest validation comes from the people who have decided to trust us – our customers, investors, partners, team members, media partners, family and friends. Pivo launched in the middle of a global supply chain crisis and, despite the challenges, we have grown it into what it is now. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and are grateful to everyone who has helped us get here.
Here’s to many more years of growth!
In the coming months we’ll be adding new products and features to Pivo and expanding to other African countries. We are excited for the future of our company.
Today, we celebrate! Happy business anniversary to us!
CEO, Pivo Africa