Founded in 2018 by Tunde Balogun, Naomi Olaghere, and Pidah Tnadah, SmallSmall, formerly called RentSmallSmall, was established to enable monthly payments for renters. This started as a result of the disappointment of the CEO, Balogun, having arrived from the UK to Nigeria where he was unable to find Landlords that accept monthly payments for rent.
Benefiting both parties, the startup’s model has been made to attract the landlord and the renter. This is one among the other proptech startups that are solving the solution to non-flexible housing payment systems. Others include Kwaba, Muster, and Spleet which recently raised its seed round this month.
Data tracing the housing deficit in Nigeria is unreliable however, the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) estimates this at 28 million. The cost of living in the country is expensive and this is a huge disadvantage to the rising number of people living in rural areas. In Lagos where SmallSmall is located, a Nairametrics report states that about 70% of residents’ monthly income is spent on rent.
To abate this, the startup has raised $3 million in seed round to scale its products across Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Jos before the end of Q1 2023. Investors in its latest funding include Oyster VC, Asymmetry Ventures, Vivaz, and Niche Capital. Other individual angel investors such as Sean Fannan of Chartboost, Adam Meghji of Universe, Jimmy Ku of Flutterwave, Samir Goel and Wemimo Abbey of Esusu, Jason Njoku of Iroko, and Tunde Kara of Vendease also participated in the round.
With its total funding at $3.1 million ($1 million debt financing and $2 million seed round), SmallSmall is renowned as the first African proptech to be a beneficiary of the Techstars Toronto Accelerator Program in October 2021.
Since its launch, the proptech has had over 476,000 registered people on its platform. Of this number, 80,000 are on its waiting list while only 1,500 can access its product offerings. RentSmallSmall, its monthly payments product which was rebranded to SmallSmall in July has been integrated as one of its three products. Others include BuySmallSmall which allows young people to invest and StaySmallSmall which allows users access to furnished bed spaces at $4 per night.
It has processed more than 25,000 monthly stays in two states: Lagos and Abuja which means that an average SmallSmall customer stays an average of 17 months on the platform. According to the company, it has only recorded less than a 7% rent default rate, saving property owners more than $1.5 million in damages i.e a 10-15% in excess margin and tenants over $1.2 million in broker fees.
“When we look at the fundamentals of housing as a basic human need, it’s not just when people have access to homes but also in home ownership. Homeownership can improve the economic status in one way or another because it generates passive income for people to meet other needs. So we want to play a part in that and help young people in their journey from renting to investing to eventually buying real estate,” CEO Balogun stated.