Seun Ayegbusi, Starting New Insurance Revolution in Nigeria
This week’s featured tech personality is Seun Ayegbusi, the visionary founder behind Insurpass. With a deep-rooted passion for digital insurance innovations and inclusive insurance models, Ayegbusi aims to propel Africa towards a brighter future aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Insurpass stands as a pioneering Open Insurance API, revolutionising the insurance landscape. It serves as a centralised platform that consolidates innovative and cost-effective insurance products from leading insurers. Through a singular API access, fintechs, banks, and digital platforms can seamlessly integrate these insurance products into their applications, extending valuable insurance services to their customer base, many of whom lack coverage.
The platform empowers companies across diverse sectors to seamlessly embed insurance products and crucial backend components into web, mobile apps, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channels, utilising its Open Insurance API.
In its relentless pursuit to enhance insurance penetration and broaden financial inclusion, Insurpass dismantles barriers to insurance access in Nigeria. Leveraging its plug-and-play API infrastructure and embedded insurance model, it facilitates other service providers — including banks, health tech, edutech, and point-of-sale agent platforms — to seamlessly offer an array of insurance products within their own applications/platforms. This opens up opportunities for uninsured customers.
Insurpass’ offering enables partner companies to provide digital insurance services either as a core value proposition or as a value-added service. This strategic approach empowers them to enhance their existing services, driving revenue growth through commissions earned in collaboration with Insurpass. In 2021, the API-driven insurance infrastructure-as-a-service platform secured undisclosed investment funding from Tekedia Capital, a notable US-based investment syndicate focused on fueling Africa’s next category of leaders.
CutStruct Technology Selected for The Exclusive Techstars Toronto Accelerator Program
CutStruct, an innovative leader in construction technology, has announced its inclusion in the Techstars Toronto accelerator programme alongside 23 other outstanding companies across the world. With over 2,000 applications vying for this coveted opportunity, CutStruct’s selection is a testament to its groundbreaking solutions and potential to revolutionise the construction industry in Africa.
Techstars, renowned for nurturing and scaling visionary startups, offers CutStruct a unique opportunity to accelerate its growth and expand its reach. Becoming a part of the Techstars community grants CutStruct access to a global network of exceptional founders, influential investors, experienced mentors, and industry leaders. This invaluable network will provide guidance and expertise crucial for scaling the business.
At the core of CutStruct’s mission is the resolve to address long-standing challenges that have plagued the construction sector, such as lack of transparency in pricing, unproductive hours searching for credible vendors, and limited access to financing. To confront these issues head-on, CutStruct built a marketplace for construction materials. The platform seamlessly connects buyers with verified sellers of building materials, empowering them to boost productivity, cut costs, and adhere to budget constraints while building a solid track record. This record facilitates easier access to financing and enables data-driven decision-making. Whether you are a property developer searching for quality materials at competitive prices or a vendor looking to expand your market reach, CutStruct is the go-to solution.
Founder and CEO of CutStruct, John Oamen, stated, “We are thrilled to be selected for the Techstars Toronto accelerator program. This opportunity aligns us with founders, investors, and mentors who share our passion for innovation and are enthusiastic about the future of construction in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.”
180 Enugu Teachers Engage in Advanced STEM Training
In a concerted effort to fortify Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education within public schools in Enugu, 180 teachers have embarked on an intensive six-month project-based STEM training program. This remarkable initiative is the product of a collaborative endeavour between the Teacher Aid Initiative (TAI) and the TY Danjuma Foundation, aiming to equip educators with advanced tools and methodologies to enhance their teaching approaches in STEM subjects.
The training commenced with a two-day immersive session attended by the participating teachers and esteemed figures from the educational sector. Notable attendees included representatives from the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB), Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB), Science Technical and Vocational Schools Management Board (STVSMB), Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), and other reputable educational institutions.
Aligned with the TY Danjuma Foundation’s mission, this initiative holds the potential to reshape the educational landscape. By immersing teachers in hands-on experiences and providing them with innovative STEM teaching tools, TAI and the TY Danjuma Foundation are laying the foundation for a more enriching and engaging learning experience for students across Enugu.
Rachael Samndi, Project Officer at TY Danjuma Foundation, said, “We are thrilled about our collaboration with the Teacher Aid Initiative. Together, we are committed to empowering teachers in Enugu State with the necessary skills and knowledge required for effective STEM instruction. We firmly believe that investing in teacher training is instrumental in enhancing educational outcomes.”
Adeola Ojeleye, founder of Teacher Aid Nigeria, added, “At TAI, our vision goes beyond just training. We aim to ignite a passion for STEM in our students, shaping them into future leaders and innovators. This initiative will not only enhance the development of children already inclined towards STEM but will also inspire countless others to envision a future in STEM-related careers.”
Recent statistics have highlighted a widening gap in STEM education across Africa, underscoring the urgent need to invest in initiatives that inspire and prepare the next generation for STEM careers. The collaboration between TAI and the TY Danjuma Foundation is a testament to their dedication to bridging this gap, fostering an environment where students learn and aspire to become future STEM leaders.
Nigeria Witnesses $56.7bn Crypto Transactions
According to a recent report by blockchain research firm Chainalysis, Nigeria experienced a noteworthy nine per cent year-over-year growth in cryptocurrency transactions, amounting to a substantial $56.7 billion from July 2022 to June 2023.
This surge in cryptocurrency interest in Nigeria is attributed to the devaluation of the naira, especially during extreme drops witnessed in June and July 2023. Nigeria grapples with an ongoing economic crisis, notably marked by an 18-year high inflation rate of 25.8 per cent last month.
“People are constantly looking for opportunities to hedge against the devaluation of the naira and the persistent economic decline since COVID,” said cofounder of the Nigerian cryptocurrency exchange Busha, Moyo Sodipo, in the report.
Despite prohibiting banks and financial institutions from engaging in or facilitating cryptocurrency transactions in Nigeria since 2021, the country’s young, tech-savvy population turned to alternatives such as peer-to-peer trading provided by cryptocurrency exchanges. This was a way to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the financial sector ban.
A recent survey affirmed Nigeria’s status as the most crypto-savvy country globally. In response to the surge in crypto activity, Nigeria’s financial regulator published a set of regulations for digital assets in the previous year, indicating the nation’s attempt to strike a balance between a complete crypto ban and unregulated use of crypto assets.
Nigeria’s young and tech-savvy population continues to embrace cryptocurrencies, notably through peer-to-peer trading offered by crypto exchanges, finding ways to adapt and thrive in the face of financial sector restrictions.
Abasi Ene-Obong Launches Syndicate Bio
Abasi Ene-Obong, the former cofounder and CEO of 54gene, an African genomics startup, has unveiled his latest venture, Syndicate Bio, a genomics company with a mission to advance global genomics science. This move follows Ene-Obong’s resignation as CEO of 54gene in August 2022, a departure that saw the company undergo significant restructuring, including laying off 100 employees, constituting 55 per cent of its workforce.
While the precise reasons behind Ene-Obong’s resignation from 54gene remain undisclosed, his new venture, Syndicate Bio, is primed to drive genomics and precision medicine initiatives, initially focusing on diverse regions, notably Africa. The company aims to collaborate with various stakeholders, including governments, pharmaceutical entities, academia, and others, to enhance local precision medicine efforts. Additionally, Syndicate Bio aims to generate invaluable datasets for drug discovery and development through these collaborations.
Taking to LinkedIn to announce the launch, Ene-Obong stated, “After a few months in stealth mode, I am happy to say that we have started Syndicate Bio to empower inclusive advancements in global genomics science.”
Joining him are Jumi Popoola, appointed as the Chief Scientific Officer, and Estelle Dogbo, who takes on the role of Chief Operating Officer at Syndicate Bio.
The formation of Syndicate Bio represents a significant step towards advancing genomics globally, and with Ene-Obong’s extensive experience and expertise in the field, the venture is expected to make substantial contributions to the world of genomics and precision medicine. The industry watches with anticipation as Syndicate Bio begins its journey to transform genomics science on a global scale.
Google DeepMind’s AlphaMissense AI Advances Genetic Mutation Analysis
Scientists at Google DeepMind have unveiled a groundbreaking artificial intelligence program named AlphaMissense, designed to predict the potential harm or benign nature of millions of genetic mutations. This development is set to accelerate research and expedite the diagnosis of rare disorders within the medical community.
The program focuses on “missense mutations,” instances where a single letter is incorrectly spelt in the DNA code. While many of these mutations are harmless, some can disrupt protein functionality, potentially causing severe diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anaemia, cancer, and brain development issues.
Using AlphaMissense, researchers evaluated all 71 million single-letter mutations that could impact human proteins. Setting the program’s precision to 90 per cent, it accurately predicted that 57 per cent of missense mutations were likely harmless, while 32% were likely harmful. For the remaining mutations, the program expressed uncertainty regarding their impact.
In response to these findings, the team at Google DeepMind has released a free online catalogue of these predictions, aiding geneticists and clinicians in their research and diagnostics for patients with rare disorders.
AlphaMissense significantly outperforms existing “variant effect predictor” programs, enhancing the speed at which experts identify disease-driving mutations. Furthermore, the AI may identify previously unlinked mutations and guide doctors towards more effective treatments.
AlphaMissense is an adaptation of DeepMind’s AlphaFold program, which predicts the 3D structure of human proteins based on their chemical makeup. The AI learned common missense mutations by analysing DNA data from humans and closely related primates while familiarising itself with protein “language” through extensive study of protein sequences, enabling it to identify healthy protein structures.