Yusuf Shuaib is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ayema Social Networks. In this interview, he says his Ayema app was created to solve local problems by connecting users while meeting local content expectations.
When did you create the app?
We began the process of building the app about five years ago and we completed it and had it on Playstore in September, 2022.
How many of you started it?
I started with my chief technical officer. We began the conception but as we grew we required more hands. Today, we are a team of 10 people, which I lead.
What motivated you to create the app?
The economy is growing from agrarian to industrial. Today, we are moving from the computer age to a connected community where we all want to solve situations peculiar to where we live. We are making people meet, as well as connect buyers to sellers. Everyone is now on social media. When it comes to mobile phones, social media has become the order of the day where people get things solved and sold. So the Ayema is to enable the country to have a local medium to interact; it should not all be foreign. Whatever idea we update is for Nigerians, and when we have the enabling environment to thrive, it would further launch Nigeria to the world.
What makes the platform different to attract users?
Firstly, it is home-grown to meet our specifications and local content. Facebook and other media platforms do not care about laws. The app is going to meet our standard and is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and trade-marked by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. So we are abiding by the law. Secondly, our app has what we called a “point and wallet system” where you can earn money. As people use it, they earn points and those points can be converted into naira. This can be moved into the wallet and be moved into your bank account. Example, if a user of Ayema has a Paystack account, the points earned can be sent to the account. When I have some money on my account and have a friend that wants to do some advert on the app, I can transfer the money to him.
Thirdly, you can voice comment on a post. In other social media, you can only post text or image, but on Ayema, you can type, post pictures and voice comment.
Also, every user of the app can be a merchant. There is an affiliate system where people can sell goods on your behalf and earn commission. Example, if I have a car placed on Ayema’s advert, someone can help sell it and earn a commission.
How safe is the data of your users?
We have taken this into account. Some people will use their cards to pay and will ask how secure their payment will be. But we are having a world standard privacy and there will not be eavesdropping. We have expertise in how data will be protected and stored. Thus our system is end-to-end encrypted. So, the data will be secured according to law.
What were the challenges you faced while building the app?
The first challenge was to overcome the fear of adoption. I was afraid if anyone would use the app, but thank God I overcame it and it has been accepted.
The second was funding, which was why it took five years to get ready. The duration was not because there was no expertise, the project took a lot of funds. Since we were doing it with the money we had without assistance, it was difficult. The only help I got along the way was a loan from the federal government through the National Youth Investment Fund during COVID-19 in 2020. I received N1m and it helped me to move forward. To get this far, we need the government’s support to have the app domesticated.
What are your plans to get more users on the app?
We had over 500 people using the app when it was launched on Playstore, it can also be used on browsers. It is not yet on Applestore, but they can also use it through the browser. We hope that after we launch it we will have a million users by the end of 2022. By the first quarter of 2023, I am hopeful to work with SMEDAN and other small businesses to come on board because it will help them. So, we are hoping to have three million users and by the end of 2023 they will be up to 10 million.
I have the desire to create a DNA bank where people can store their identity. This will be done using Artificial Intelligence (AI) that would benefit our hospitals and the society at large. It will be easy to trace our lineage.