Technology-focused training and job placement startup, Decagon, has closed a US$1.5m seed equity round from early-stage venture capital firms. The startup also raised US$25 million student loan financing facility from Sterling Bank.
The startup, which combines training, edtech, and fintech in its operation, attracted investment from early-stage investors including Kepple Africa Ventures, and Timon Capital.
Investments also came from angel investors like Paul Kokoricha, who is a managing partner at Nigeria’s largest PE firm, ACA, and Tokyo-based tech training firm, UNITED Inc.
Decagon was founded in 2018 by serial tech founder, Chika Nwobi. Nwobi has achieved one of Africa’s first tech IPOs in his first company, MTech, and went on to found and/or fund over 20 other startups including Jobberman, Cheki, and Oya.
Commenting on Decagon’s operation model, Nwobi noted that:
“Decagon aims to address the under-representation of black people in tech globally starting in Nigeria – the most populous black nation, where youth unemployment is about 50%. Funding for local startups is growing massively but companies now face a shortfall of skilled tech talent. US, German, and UK-based companies are also looking for the best talent from all over the world but often need help accessing Africa’s best. Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have all invested in building engineering offices in Nigeria but most other companies can’t afford to do that, so we help them access top talent to work as remote engineers.”
The edtech startup partnered with Sterling bank and Nigeria’s Apex bank to create a merit-based student loans. This partnership enables Decagon to offer a Pay-After-Learning (PAL) plan to trainees.
The startup also provides trainees with laptops, accommodation, internet, meal allowance, as well as an allowance; this is done without any upfront payment.
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Decagon prides itself to have assisted over 80 thousand people.
“Three things I am especially proud of are our 100% placement rate upon graduation, the 100% loan repayment rate by DecaDevs, and the 410% salary uplift we are seeing after Decagon”, Nwobi said.
Chris Muscarella, Partner at Timon Capital, also commented on Timon Capital’s collaboration with Decagon:
“We’re thrilled to work with Decagon to build up the top 0.5% of vetted engineering talent in Africa and help connect them to global tech opportunities. The frequency of engineering leaders from US and European companies in our network ask about sourcing African and Nigerian technical talent has increased at a rapid clip and we’re excited to lean into that and help Decagon on their mission.”
Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Sterling Bank, also commented on the partnership with Decagon, he said:
“We got involved to support alternative education by providing loans for Nigerian students complemented with financial literacy training, Based on the excellent performance of the current portfolio, it made sense to scale our support to Decagon.”