Nigerian startup Salad has built an employee financial services offering that caters to the financial health of employees in Africa, to enhance their general wellbeing and productivity.
Founded in March 2022 by CEO Chikodi Ukaiwe and CTO Seunfunmi Omotunde, Salad launched its MVP into the market in July of the same year. The startup provides employees with the technology to access, save and manage money through a suite of financial products offered to them by their employer as a workplace benefit.
“We partner directly with employers for prequalification and to access unique employee data. By working with us, employers maintain their cash flow from no longer having to fund salary advances, boost their employees’ productivity and attract the best talent,” Ukaiwe told Disrupt Africa.
The name “Salad”, he said, is symbolic of a salad dish, which is characterised by different ingredients with healthy benefits.
“It also connotes the term “salary advance”, which refers to the range of cash advances and loans we provide to employees. With Salad, we seek to create a system where employees have access to their salaries on-demand, savings and wealth-building products, as well as many other benefits that enable them to live healthy and productive lives, free of financial stress,” Ukaiwe said.
Indeed, financial stress is one of the leading causes of distraction in the workplace, where six out of 10 salary earners in Africa are likely to run out of cash before payday. According to a report by the World Bank, Africa has the lowest labour productivity levels in the world, estimated at one-tenth of those in high-income countries.
“With limited access to affordable credit to meet short and long-term needs, African employees have little to rely on for financial relief, leaving them distressed, distracted, and unable to perform at their full potential. This in turns costs employers huge amounts in lost revenue, high turnover, and several other challenges that affect the business’ growth,” said Ukaiwe.
“At Salad, we saw a need to fill this gap by providing access to the most sustainable ways to access, spend, and save money as a salary earner in Africa. To achieve this, we leverage unique payroll data and proprietary credit scoring to offer low-cost credit.”
The startup has secured some funding from Techstars, as one of the 12 startups in the inaugural cohort of the ARM Labs Lagos Techstars programme. It also just recently opened a funding round, which Ukaiwe said will “supercharge” its growth by extending its offering to 50,000 employees and delivering on the rest of its product roadmap.
How has that growth been so far? Well, within nine months of launching its MVP, Salad has onboarded close to 2,000 employees, with another 5x in the pipeline, growing organically 75 per cent month-on-month.
“Our services are live and available to employers and employees across all states in Nigeria, with plans to expand into Ghana and two new markets in East Africa over the coming months,” Ukaiwe said.
Salad, which makes money from transaction fees and interest from its credit products, commissions from third party financial service providers, and net interest income from customer deposits, has had to overcome the general lack of formal credit data in Africa, which Ukaiwe said impairs the ability to make intelligent lending decisions.
“To solve this, we’ve partnered directly with employers to leverage alternative and unique data which we access via our APIs, built to integrate seamlessly into existing business systems,” he said.