A startup in Nigeria is challenging its government to be more transparent with its rules for small business. Orodata seeks to create infographic content based on relevant data that will help small business make faster and better business decisions.
“My project ‘Transforming SMEs by leveraging visual open data’ seeks to access, simplify, visualize, storify (sic) and communicate information or data most relevant to Small and Medium Enterprises,” Orodata founder Blaise Aboh said in an interview.
“It also seeks to address accountability and transparency issues in the sector,” he said.
“We want to provide a smooth, quick information environment for SME owners to smarten up so as to make more informed decisions, ask the right questions, engage each other in more intelligent debates while enjoying healthy businesses and growth,” Aboh noted when asked about his startup’s main goal.
Information access stalls SME growth in Nigeria
Aboh explained that the access to information and data has always been the key issue for SMEs because they still reside in crude formats. For example, SMEs don’t have information regarding government’s responsibilities, policies nor regulations that affect their businesses, he said.
“Access to information is a big issue because majority of SME owners have little or no time allocated to information but rather worry more about managing their businesses and generating revenue,” he noted.
“The government itself has no one to hold it to its responsibilities and promises and as such time after time fail to deliver or delivers but poorly,” Aboh said.
Why Orodata infographics work
Aboh explained that visualizations are powerful, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual because visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
“Visual information is engaging, it shows without having to tell thereby allowing the SME owner make decisions swiftly without the pressure of translating. Visuals express ideas and information quickly – in a snapshot,” Aboh explained.
“This breaks through the overwhelming clutter of data and reduces time spent on consuming information. Visual content is social media ready, friendly, easily sharable and palatable to say the least,” he noted.
Carryover from previous success story
This concept is a carryover of Aboh’s project last year. Late 2014, his civic tech organization Orodata launched a data project named EDAV [Election Data Analytics and Visualization] which was to leverage election data to create real-time visual narratives.
“After months we had crafted over 60 viral infographics and reached almost a million Nigerians using storified election data. This project validated the power of data visualization and what the market wants. We learnt that people love, interact and are willing to share infographics and storified (sic) data,” he noted.
“Although there were challenges but we overcame them and have since learnt a lot. Now we understand how the market wants to be communicated with and as thus, we are looking to replicate that knowledge for the SME sector,” Aboh said.
Orodata is among the shortlist for Innovating Justice Challenge 2015, a competition that seeks promising innovations, this year in the area of SMEs.
The Challenge is looking for
New ventures or novel ideas with a strong potential of delivering concrete justice results.
Innovative justice initiatives that are already making a difference.
Justice innovations focused on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
Especially for the youth in West and East Africa, to make it easier to start a business, keep a it going, and growing it.
This challenge is issued in partnership with the Ford foundation and focuses on West and East Africa.
In his startup plan Aboh noted that "Most government and public sector parastatal have refused to be transparent, they continue to be corrupt and as such public service delivery has waned."