Feb 24

‘It never really felt like I left Nigeria’

Bankole Cardoso, founder and CEO of EasyTaxi Nigeria, left behind a successful career in New York city to return home to Nigeria.

Cardoso, who is listed as one of Forbes’ 30 most promising entrepreneurs in Africa for 2014,  says he always intended to return home.

“Nigeria is home and it is where I believe that I can make an impact but more importantly it is the only place where I want to make an impact.”

Cardoso says family was one of the key factors that brought him home.

“I am very close to my family and wanted to be closer to them so I was preparing myself for the perfect time and opportunity to return home.”

Cardoso, who left Nigeria to continue his secondary education at Rugby School in the UK, says he used to come back during all of his school holidays so it never really felt like he completely left Nigeria.

After five years in the UK, he went to Boston College in the US for four years where he studied business management and accounting.

Cardoso then moved to New York city for three-and-a-half years working for PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Carlyle Group.

He says Nigeria desperately needs good talent.

“There are so many opportunities in this country.”

But he adds adjusting to life in Nigeria is only straightforward if you have the right conditions.

“There are so many things that you have to worry about that it can all become a big distraction.  Lagos is an expensive city and credit is not readily available.  For instance, if you are used to paying rent once a month abroad, a landlord may ask you for two years up front.  Then you have to think about electricity, diesel, traffic and all the other stresses that come with living in Lagos.  If you are fortunate to be able to stay with family or you have a decent place to stay then you will be able to focus on the important things.  If not, it can all become too much and drive you crazy.  On the flip side, Lagos is such an exciting place and there is a lot to do.”

EasyTaxi, a taxi mobile App that was founded in Brazil in 2012, serves to connect cab drivers and would-be passengers. Through the App, passengers can confirm their pickup point and then order a cab at the click of a button.

Cardoso says EasyTaxi is often compared to Uber because both us similar technology but he says that is pretty much as far as it goes when you compare the two companies.

“The experience you get with Uber is different from the taxi experience.  Our goal is to make taxis a cheaper, safer and more trusted means of transportation in Nigeria.”

He says the mobile market has exploded in Nigeria.

“Smartphone penetration is rife and as smartphones keep getting cheaper, more people are gaining access to them.  Already, the majority of people are accessing the Internet through their smartphones so the opportunities for mobile advertising and other app services is huge.  At the moment, I think that the only hindrance is the cost of data services. Data is still too expensive but with time those prices will also come down.”