“Founding Shap Shap, starting an NGO, and becoming NASENI chief at 32” Here’s the story of Khalil Halilu

Godfrey Elimian
Meet Khalil Halilu, the tenacious founder of ShapShap and newly appointed NASENI CEO
Meet Khalil Halilu, the tenacious founder of ShapShap and newly appointed NASENI CEO

Khalil Hallu’s desire to have a positive impact on his society has become the fuel that has moulded him into the man that he is today. The 32-year-old Kano state-born techpreneur has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI). 

“I feel responsible for my society. What’s the whole point of having to travel all over the world and getting an education and then coming back to your primary society that has so many problems and you are not able to solve it? I just want to make impact.

Khalil Halilu

Khalil Halilu was born on October 29, 1990, in Kano State. His family has a history of trading and manufacturing physical goods, but Khalil has a passion for problem-solving that extends beyond these industries. He is interested in technology, service-oriented businesses, consulting, and other investments. Khalil Halilu embodies the qualities of a modern, visionary entrepreneur who believes in the possibility of the “Nigerian Dream.”

As a young man, KSH, as he is fondly called, ventured into several entrepreneurial endeavors, borne out of the need to solve society’s challenges. He sold ice and CDs, launched a gaming centre, and at one point played make-shift DJ for a party.

But his techpreneural journey began after he graduated from the University of Hertfordshire, the United Kingdom, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Business Administration in 2009, as well as his Master’s degree in International Business in 2010.

Khalil Halilu, CEO NASENI, founder ShapShap
Khalil Halilu, CEO of NASENI, founder of ShapShap

Although there are few stories after that time from school which involved going into the family business and not finding satisfaction in it, becoming an administrative clerk, relocating to Abuja and venturing into block construction, a major highlight signifying his delve into tech, was perhaps, his waste recycling venture which he co-founded with his long time friend and partner, Bashir.

Since that time, he has gone on to be the COO of Scirrocco. He also started the Centre for Civic, Welfare and Community Development (CWCD Africa), a non-governmental organisation focused on contributing to societal areas like Health, Education, the environment, and Climate change. He launched Zebe, an election monitoring app; ShapShap, an on-demand delivery app; and OyaOya, the first on-demand commodity marketplace in the whole of Africa.

In recognition of his impact on society and the institution he has become, President Bola Tinubu recently appointed the 32-year-old as the new Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI). 

Speaking to Technext about what he brings to the space with the appointment, Khalil says:

“I am bringing to this new role my years of experience starting and running successful technology ventures in Nigeria, and creating products that have positively impacted many people.

I am also bringing to bear my extensive network, my understanding of how the government can play a truly enabling role in transforming society and achieving the President’s goal of renewed hope, as well as my desire to see a government agency like NASENI adopt global best practices in our work.”

In this article, Khalil Halilu details his growth, founding ShapShap, contributing to society and influencing government positively for the tech ecosystem as the NASENI boss.

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ShapShap; the model and impact

In 2019, Khalil founded the CANs, described as the first eco-friendly technological hub in West Africa. But prior to that, in 2018 he founded OyaOya and ShapShap.

While OyaOya is a Strategic Service Ltd. designed to connect community traders to the ecosystem in a fast and efficient way, ShapShap is an online platform that provides on-demand delivery service to those who need it. ShapShap has helped a large number of shoppers find their favourite products, order, and track deliveries till they get to their final destination.

The platform connects customers with drivers and is supported with flexible route options and insurance coverage on goods being transported on bikes.

ShapShap riders

“We connect riders to customers and we take a commission for it”, he says. But understanding that the riders do not have the funds to kickstart, we help them through “own it”, where we lease assets for them to eventually own a bike and kits. We give them training and they keep paying overtime, usually 24 months until they’re able to pay back the cost of the asset and then also earn a living for themselves.”

Safety and branding are crucial in the logistics and supply chain industry due to the gap between tech-savvy individuals and less sophisticated drivers. But Khalil says measures have been implemented to address this challenge.

“For safety, we use a delivery pickup pin and drop off pin to ensure that it’s the right person and the right items that have been picked up and delivered. Secondly, we use also on-transit insurance.”

On how he incentivises his riders from carrying theft and compromises, he says there is a feature called “delivery quality for every delivery.” “The quality is determined by how quickly it was assigned, picked up delivered.”

On ensuring fair pricing for both riders and customers, he says they “try to understand what it takes to make the job attractive for riders and then divide it by the number of days they work in a month and the number of hours, and see averagely how many deliveries can they do and then use it on a kilometre billion, right to make it attractive.”

However, for customer pricing, they look out for “customers that are willing to pay for those services because the truth is not, everyone can be a customer.”

With about 400 riders and 5000 customers across the board, Khalil says the platform is currently in full operation in Abuja, Kano and Lagos with plans to expand based on favourable local regulations.

We have done over a million deliveries since launch

Khalil Halilu

Founding CWCD and other civic commitments

In 2018, Khalil started the Center for Civic, Welfare and Community Development (CWCD Africa) – A non-governmental organization focused on contributing tangibly to societal areas like Health, Education, Environment and Climate Change. Other areas like Sustainability, Inclusive Development, Welfare for Refugees, Migrants and The Displaced within the continent have also been looked into.

Under Khalil, the CWCD launched another invention, the Zabe mobile app, which was pivotal during the Nigerian General Elections in 2019. Speaking about that area of his life, he says;

Basically, we find a pain point in society and then we use technology to solve it and to close that gap. We’re using technology to solve social gaps. So we partnered with organisations to build a technology for election transparency and we partnered using their network to deploy it.

Khalil Halilu

Apart from election transparency, Khalil added that during COVID-19, the centre was at the forefront of distributing palliative.

Tech as a tool for efficiency in Northern Nigeria

As a northerner, Khalil Halilu shares the view that more could be done through tech in northern Nigeria but asserts that a proper understanding of the people and their needs is essential in introducing technological products.

Citing the logistics business as an example, he says;

“Talking about logistics problems, you are talking about, information, price, and even information on where the goods ended up. There is also credit risk to suppliers, buyers’ history, and all. So tech can definitely play a part. But there is a need to also understand and align them.

Khalil claims tech adoption is high in the region, but the adoption depends on the product. According to him, for any technology to receive great adoption in the north, it has to blend with the culture and market seeing that such a product will function as a community product rather than for individuals.

“If you’re talking about products like POS, the adoption in the North is very high or even TikTok. I saw data that shows the North as one of the highest users because it blends with the culture. There are some technologies that simply don’t do well there, like Uber for instance and DSTV. So, the key thing is understanding and being able to deliver the right products to the market.”

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Most challenging endeavour yet

After functioning across various industries and institutions, Khalil lists his time at a power and meter distributing company, and ShapShap as his most challenging projects yet.

“It would be one of two things. There was a metering company that I was on their board and also operations. The distribution channel of the electricity industry is a mess. There’s no clear plan and collection is very poor.

There are places where you want to have metering and then a lot of people don’t actually want meters. From bypassing to questions around who is going to pay for the meter, whether it is the customer or the company, things like that.

In the case of ShapShap, he says, “because it is the point at which the most educated people in the country intersect with the least educated people.”

Once you have these two classes of people intersecting, it becomes very difficult and it becomes a mess. Riders trying to bypass the system; not wanting to be rated in a certain way; People don’t want to have delayed payments, and then, they don’t want to pay transactional charges.”

Khalil Halilu

He says people automatically want all the problems they face in one aspect of life to be taken away. Citing the rider’s sophistication, he says these features might not go away even though they try, given that they are who they are. Generally, Khalil believes the biggest challenge has been mainly around people.

On challenges so far in the journey to becoming and achieving what he has achieved, he says, it is having to do things that people around him do not understand why he is doing them.

The key challenge for me is the fact that you are doing something that it is only at the end of the tunnel that people will understand what you’re doing. Plus the fact that you don’t have an actual physical product to show for it

Life, fun and future endeavours

With so much at hand, Khalil Halilu in his free time has proven he is also a well-groomed sportsman. He is an all-rounder with Golf and Polo being his major hobbies. Khalil is a member of the Abuja Polo Club, Nigerian Polo Association, Lagos Polo Club and Kano Golf Club. But apart from polo, he says he loves taking a drive.

I love to network and then sometimes I just like to take drives, you know,,.in the evening when there’s no traffic just like driving around.


For Khalil, the coming months would be about more impact, more products and basically doing what he loves doing.

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