Showlove CEO, Chikodi Ukaiwe talks about connecting Africa through gifting

Ejike Kanife

The advent of technology has made it possible for people to source funding for their projects online. This is made possible through crowdfunding platforms like Gofundme. Here, one could register a project; charity causes, community developmental projects or even personal projects, and invite people to donate money to it.

But what if the cause is not as much a project as it is just an expression of kindness; something acutely lacking in society today? What if people can get together to just show love by giving out presents, granting great discounts for goods and services and generally showing some love to each other?

This is exactly what Showlove, a Nigerian social platform is looking to achieve.

Fully launched just two short months ago, in August, the startup is providing young people with a way to care and be there for each other. According to founder and CEO, Chikodi Ukaiwe, the startup is simply a tool for folks to celebrate and appreciate each other, every day.

At Showlove, we’re creating a social platform where people are equipped with tools to celebrate and show appreciation for one another, in a fun and exciting way, and not just on the special days, but everyday

Chikodi Ukaiwe, Co-founder and CEO, Showlove

Asides from the CEO, the startup was co-founded by Joshua Biyere who is the Product Lead and Seye Bandele who is the Growth Lead.

Showlove CEO, Chikodi Ukaiwe talks about connecting Africa through gifting
Showlove Founders
Credit: Showlove

The son of two academicians, Showlove CEO Chikodi grew up in the studious environment of the University of Lagos. He, however, opted to pursue his undergraduate studies at Babcock University where he was classmates with Nigerian fintech founders like Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi both of Paystack, and Chioma Okocha of Pay Hippo.

Chikodi bagged a BSc in Computer Information Systems at Babcock before heading out to Salford University in Manchester where he obtained a post-graduate degree in Managing Information Technology. Returning to Nigeria, he worked as Country Head for Sales at Jumia before moving to Konga where he was VP of Commercial Operations.

He worked across 13 different roles spanning e-commerce, payments and logistics. And now he has brought all his experience to bear at his current station as the Chief Executive of his own startup; ShowLove. While the startup hasn’t been into any official incubators, Chikodi says he likes to think his experience in the African tech ecosystem is a type of boot camp.

Having announced a $300,000 pre-seed funding round in August, Chikodi says ShowLove is focused on smashing its milestones as there are plans underway for another round of funding.

“It’s been fantastic. We’re approaching N500 million in requests through the platform and just under 100 million in transactions processed. We’re young, under 3 months, we’re growing quickly. We’re currently doubling down on smashing our milestones, as plans are being made for another round of funding to scale our operations,” the CEO told me.

Connecting Africans through gifting

Showlove is a social platform first before anything. Its purpose as described on its platform is to connect Africans through gifting. After signing up, users will be ushered into an array of means to request, give and receive gifts that they really want.

Beyond just the gifts, the platform also allows users to purchase goods at discounted prices. Called ‘gift packages’, they include clothing, accessories, food packs, toys, ornaments, perfumes, skincare products and several others. Discounts range from 1% to 40%.

Credit: Showlove

There’s also a ‘wishlist section’ where users can create a list of things they want for a special occasion like birthdays, Christmas, NYSC and a host of others. The wishlist makes it easy for your friends and family to know what you want. There’s also a section for users to buy gift vouchers.

“We want to create a social platform where people can share anything they want, and people can reward them with anything they want. That’s the core of the value proposition,” Ukaiwe said.

Currently, Showlove runs only on the web platform. Chikodi Ukaiwe told me however that its app is currently under development with some of the brightest developers working on it. He said the app would be ready soon.

Gofundme vs Gogiftme

Showlove is a social gifting platform. It has a section where people can create a wishlist and invite people to help them fulfil the contents. This is very much like Gofundme. However, while Gofundme accounts are created to fund projects and other serious endeavours, Showlove is basically for less serious stuff.

“We make an internal joke that we are like Gofundme but not that serious. The platform encourages people to share the things that they actually desire, and we are banking on the weight of social relationships to spur people to want to give towards the things that actually matter,” the CEO said.

Showlove CEO, Chikodi Ukaiwe talks about connecting Africa through gifting
Team Showlove

Showlove seems to share some similarities with an older app, Abeg. It would therefore be almost impossible to think of one without the other. Indeed the CEO himself admitted he had heard the comparisons several times before. So what stands the Showlove apart?

The CEO said Showlove is unique in that it is looking to improve the way people interact with one another as much as they would in real life or on any other social platform. It does this by equipping them with a lot more rewards cues, to show appreciation, or just social gestures, including but not limited to cash.

Reinforcing a culture of begging?

A significant part of Nigerian society is financed largely through foreign remittances which make up roughly 7% of the country’s GDP. But locally, there are quite a lot of remittances going on.

Perhaps due to the abysmal socio-economic situation, there appears to be a thriving culture of begging and help-seeking. So could platforms like Showlove and even Abeg be reinforcing this culture?

Chikodi thinks not. According to him, the platform is creating a natural environment for people to interact and requesting is a natural form of interaction among people.

“We’re trying to create a natural enough social environment for people to interact, and requesting is a natural form of interaction between people, perhaps more frequent in Nigeria, but then that may be a factor of the socio-economic environment and not the platform,” he said.

In conclusion

Showlove is a platform that was designed to give young people something they always crave; a virtual community to socialise, share and receive gifts, and above all to show some love.

The startup has come a long way in a very short time. If it goes on to hit the milestones as planned, it would be well on its way to becoming the ideal social platform connecting Africans through gifting.

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