Start-up snapshot: Solar-powered wifi in Lagos, Nigeria

Tizeti is a Lagos-based start-up that aims to provide affordable broadband internet to residences, businesses, events, and conferences.

The company has its own solar-powered network of internet towers, as well as over 3,000 public hotspots across Lagos. Tizeti’s consumer-facing brand is called wifi.com.ng, and it recently also launched Express Wi-Fi in partnership with Facebook.

“Tizeti was launched with the goal of providing a sustainable solution to the poor internet connectivity problems in Nigeria and Africa,” said Kendall Ananyi, CEO and co-founder. He answered How we we made it in Africa’s questions.

1. How did you finance your start-up?

We bootstrapped the business up until April 2017, when we raised seed funding. We reinvested back any revenue we generated to build more solar-powered wifi towers, and then guerrilla marketed around the new tower to get more subscribers.

2. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

Our seed funding went into purchasing more internet bandwidth and licencing spectrum to improve the quality of service. Any new investment will go to completely covering Lagos and upgrading the older sections of our network.

3. What risks does your business face?

Increased competition from larger telecom companies and interference in the wireless band.

4. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Referral from existing customers and online searches for an unlimited internet service has been the most effective. Low-cost unlimited internet is innovative and not available from any other provider and our customers are always eager to refer us to their friends and colleagues.

5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

When we discovered that solar energy could provide the power for our equipment. This resulted in significant savings from diesel expense.

6. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it.

Leaving fundraising too late, as we could be a little further in our execution. But the good side is we waited for the right terms. We should’ve started fundraising early, given how difficult it is to secure funding.