Meet Prince Nwadeyi, the entrepreneur driving financial inclusion and enabling employment while developing insights into the informal sector. Prince Nwadeyi has nurtured a passion for making change from a young age. When the opportunity to create a long-lasting impact as an entrepreneur presented itself during a lecture eight years ago at the University of Cape Town , Nwadeyi embraced it wholeheartedly.
Born to entrepreneurial parents, Nwadeyi was involved in the family business from a young age. This hands-on experience in various aspects of the business proved crucial in shaping his entrepreneurial mindset. “My entrepreneurial adventure is a function of growing up in a very entrepreneurial environment,” Nwadeyi says.
His journey begins in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, where he attended an all-boys’ school Queens College and thrived in debating and public speaking circles. It was also during this time that he understood the importance of reflection in realizing one’s goals, a principle taught by the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship Programme, which he was introduced to by a friend. He went on to complete His undergrad in Commerce and Masters in Inclusive Innovation at the UCT Graduate School of Business.
Nwadeyi co-founded iSpani, an award-winning start-up that gathers business intelligence and market research on the informal sector while creating youth employment opportunities. They have built a network of 5,000 data merchants spread across the country, who collect and sell data, driving large-scale empowerment in the process. This data, in turn, is utilized to inform the strategy of brands and businesses looking to service the informal market. While equally deeply enabling development work being done by organisations like the UNDP.
But Nwadeyi’s endeavours do not stop there. He has also initiated Setana Capital with his co-founders, a working capital finance fund aimed at supporting small businesses within the township areas of South Africa and backed by the Empowerment Investment arm of Allan Gray, E-Squared. Setana Capital partners with wholesalers and distributors to provide enabling finance to spaza stores and mini-distributors, plugging a financing gap that is not covered by traditional financial institutions. They’ve seen significant success delivering a 99.6% repayment rate and 82% redeployment rate.
Nwadeyi’s work is guided by his deep-seated passion to drive transformation and change. “I’ve always been passionate about developing the continent and investing my energies in ensuring that I can be part of the change,” he says. His journey has seen him earn notable recognitions and support, with iSpani being awarded R2.5m in the Social Tech Start-up Challenge and R2m business support from Rand Merchant Investment Holdings’ Fintech incubator AlphaCode. His businesses have attracted a total of R27,8 million in funding support and investment since leaving university.
Yet for Nwadeyi, his greatest achievement is staying his course in creating change. “Our greatest achievement to date as a business is sticking the entrepreneurial journey out. The youth have always had potential. All we require is for that potential to be unleashed through support and opportunities such as those offered by the Foundation,” Nwadeyi concludes.