Startup Chronicles: Stories Behind Nigerian Startups Ceasing Operations in 2023

Hey there! Get ready to dive into the exciting world of Nigerian startups with us. In this article, we’ll talk about these startups that had some tough times and had to close down in 2023. Startups go through ups and downs, and understanding why these shut down can teach valuable lessons to people dreaming of starting their businesses. Come along with us as we explore the stories behind these shutdowns, picking up lessons from both the good and not-so-good experiences in the always-changing world of Nigerian startups.

1 ) Wabi Nigeria

Wabi Nigeria was an e-commerce platform that aimed to transform the way consumers buy their everyday products in Nigeria. It was a joint venture between The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company. Wabi Nigeria was launched in 2018 and quickly became one of the leading e-commerce platforms in the country. It offered a wide variety of products, including groceries, household goods, and electronics. Wabi Nigeria also had a strong focus on empowering women, and it provided a platform for women entrepreneurs to sell their products online.

Why Wabi Nigeria Shut Down

In January 2023, Wabi Nigeria announced that it would be shutting down operations in five African markets, including Nigeria. The company cited several reasons for its decision, including the challenging economic environment in Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased competition from other e-commerce platforms.

Impact of Wabi Nigeria’s Shutdown

The shutdown of Wabi Nigeria had a significant impact on the Nigerian e-commerce market. It left several retailers and consumers without a platform to buy and sell goods online. It also hurt the Nigerian economy, as Wabi Nigeria was a major employer and contributor to the country’s GDP.

Key Factors That Led to Wabi Nigeria’s Shutdown

  • Economic challenges in Africa: The African economy has been facing several challenges in recent years, including slow growth, high inflation, and currency devaluation. These challenges made it difficult for Wabi Nigeria to operate profitably.
  • COVID-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the global economy, and Africa was no exception. The pandemic disrupted supply chains and caused a decline in consumer spending. This made it even more difficult for Wabi Nigeria to survive.
  • Increased competition from other e-commerce platforms: The Nigerian e-commerce market is becoming increasingly competitive, with several new players entering the market in recent years. This competition made it difficult for Wabi Nigeria to maintain its market share.

2) Vibra Nigeria

Vibra Nigeria was a cryptocurrency trading app that aimed to empower crypto enthusiasts and beginners alike in Africa. The app provided a user-friendly platform for learning, experimenting, and making trades within a community of experts. The company was founded in 2020 by Vincent Li, a founding partner of web3 accelerator Adaverse. Vibra Nigeria raised $1 million in seed funding from Dragonfly Capital, HashKey, and Lateral Frontiers. The app was available in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana.

Reasons for Shutdown

Vibra Nigeria shut down its operations in October 2023 due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Market uncertainty: The cryptocurrency market experienced a significant downturn in 2023, which made it difficult for Vibra to attract new users and generate revenue.
  • Regulatory challenges: The Nigerian government has been increasingly scrutinizing cryptocurrency exchanges, which has made it difficult for Vibra to comply with all of the necessary regulations.
  • Competition: The cryptocurrency market is becoming increasingly crowded, and Vibra faced stiff competition from other well-established exchanges.

Impact of Shutdown

The shutdown of Vibra Nigeria was a setback for the African cryptocurrency ecosystem. The app has been a valuable resource for many Nigerians who were interested in learning about and investing in cryptocurrencies.

Despite its closure, Vibra Nigeria made a significant contribution to the growth of cryptocurrency adoption in Africa. The company’s innovative approach to education and community building helped introduce many people to the world of cryptocurrencies.

3) 54Gene

54gene was a Nigerian health tech company that aimed to revolutionize healthcare by leveraging genomics data to develop personalized medicines for Africans. Founded in 2019 by Abasi Ene-Obong, the company quickly gained recognition for its innovative approach and its potential to address the underrepresentation of African genetic data in global biomedical research.

54gene’s core business model involved genetic collecting and analyzing samples from African individuals to create a comprehensive database of African genetic diversity. The company also partnered with pharmaceutical companies and research institutions to utilize this data for drug discovery and clinical trials.

In September 2023, 54gene announced its decision to shut down its operations. The company’s closure marked a significant loss for the Nigerian health tech ecosystem and highlighted the challenges faced by early-stage startups in Africa.

Challenges that led to 54gene closure in 2023

Despite its promising start, 54gene faced several challenges that ultimately led to its closure in 2023. These challenges included:

  • Funding Difficulties: The company struggled to secure sufficient funding to sustain its operations. Despite raising over $45 million in funding, the company’s financial situation remained precarious.
  • Internal Disputes: Reports emerged of internal conflicts and disagreements among the company’s leadership, which contributed to instability and hampered decision-making processes.
  • Data Privacy Concerns: The company’s data collection practices raised concerns about data privacy and ethical considerations, particularly regarding the consent and informed participation of individuals whose genetic data was being collected.
  • Limited Market Reach: The company’s target market, African healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies was relatively limited, making it difficult to achieve sustainable revenue growth.
  • Global Economic Conditions: The global economic downturn in 2022 further exacerbated the company’s financial challenges, making it even harder to secure funding and maintain operations.

Despite its closure, 54gene’s legacy lies in its pioneering efforts to advance genomics research in Africa. The company’s work has contributed to a growing awareness of the importance of African genetic diversity in global healthcare research and has set a precedent for future health tech ventures in the region.

4) Lazerpay

Founded in 2021, Lazerpay was a Nigerian fintech company that aimed to revolutionize payments in the Web3 era. The company developed an API that enabled businesses and merchants to seamlessly integrate crypto payments into their platforms, allowing them to accept payments in various cryptocurrencies.

Lazerpay’s platform offers a range of features to facilitate crypto transactions, including:

  • Secure and reliable infrastructure: Lazerpay employed robust security measures to safeguard user funds and transactions.
  • Easy integration: The company’s API was designed for easy integration into existing platforms, making it convenient for merchants to adopt crypto payments.
  • Global reach: Lazerpay enabled merchants to accept payments from users worldwide, expanding their reach beyond traditional payment methods.


Reasons for Lazerpay’s Shutdown

Despite its innovative approach and promising potential, Lazerpay ceased operations in April 2023. The company cited several factors that contributed to its decision to shut down:

  • Funding challenges: The global economic downturn and the slump in the cryptocurrency market made it difficult for Lazerpay to secure additional funding, hindering its growth and sustainability.
  • Increased competition: The crypto payment space became increasingly competitive, with numerous startups vying for market share. Lazerpay faced challenges in differentiating itself and attracting a substantial user base.
  • Regulatory uncertainty: The evolving regulatory landscape surrounding cryptocurrencies posed challenges for Lazerpay in navigating compliance and maintaining user confidence.

Impact of Lazerpay’s Shutdown

Lazerpay’s closure marked a setback for the Nigerian crypto ecosystem, as the company was one of the few prominent players in the space. Its demise highlighted the challenges faced by crypto-focused startups in a volatile market and a complex regulatory environment.

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5) Hytch

Hytch was a Nigerian logistics startup that initially offered ride-hailing services before pivoting to a B2B logistics model. The company was launched in 2021 to provide a convenient and affordable transportation option for commuters in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. However, after struggling to gain traction in the competitive ride-hailing market, Hytch shifted its focus to B2B logistics in 2022.

Hytch’s B2B logistics platform aimed to connect businesses with a network of delivery drivers to transport goods within Nigeria. The company hoped to capitalize on the growing demand for e-commerce and logistics services in the country. However, despite its pivot to B2B logistics, Hytch faced challenges in raising sufficient funding to sustain its operations.

In February 2023, Hytch announced its closure, citing financial constraints as the primary reason. The company’s shutdown was a setback for Nigeria’s nascent logistics sector, which has been grappling with infrastructure challenges and a lack of investment.

Factors Contributing to Hytch’s Closure

Several factors contributed to Hytch’s demise:

  • Intense competition in the ride-hailing market: Hytch entered a highly competitive ride-hailing market dominated by established players like Uber and Bolt. These companies had deeper pockets and a larger user base, making it difficult for Hytch to gain traction.
  • Pivot to B2B logistics: Hytch’s pivot to B2B logistics was a strategic move to tap into a growing market segment. However, the company’s lack of experience in B2B operations may have hindered its ability to attract and retain customers in this sector.
  • Funding constraints: Hytch struggled to secure sufficient funding to sustain its operations. This was a common challenge faced by many startups in Nigeria, where venture capital funding is still relatively scarce.

Despite its challenges, Hytch made a significant contribution to Nigeria’s logistics sector by introducing innovative ideas and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship. The company’s story serves as a reminder of the resilience and determination of Nigerian entrepreneurs, even in the face of adversity.


In the ever-changing world of Nigerian startups, the closing down of these ventures in 2023 tells us about the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned. Even though it might be a bit sad to see them go, it also opens the door for new ideas and cool inventions. As we say goodbye to these startups, let’s take with us the lessons they’ve taught us. The journey of a startup is always changing, full of bouncing back, adjusting, and always trying to do better. Stay with us for more stories from the world of Nigerian entrepreneurship!