Pade, a startup that helps businesses manage their HR functions, caused a stir on X (formerly Twitter) when it shared that it paid ₦11 billion ($12 million) in salaries for its clients in 2023. With over 100 businesses on its people operations platform and over 6,500 employees, the math of it works out to an average salary of ₦240,000 across all the companies it handles payroll for. That figure is eight times Nigeria’s minimum wage. 

Some other numbers caught the eye, like how 60% of employees earn less than ₦150,000 and 25% earn more than ₦250,000 per month. 

Launched in 2022, Pade’s growth has been rapid. The ₦11.473 billion in salaries it paid to employees in 2023 was a 41.1% increase from its 2022 figure of ₦7.245 billion. 

The third and fourth quarters drove much of that growth, coinciding with when Pade signed Flutterwave, the Nigerian payment behemoth, as a key client. Landing Flutterwave’s business opened the door to other major players. Its other clients include Famasi, Risevest, Max, and Dantata. 

For the company’s leaders, growth has been a function of opportunity meeting preparation. 

“We have spent the last two years tweaking our product to build the right tools companies need to manage their staff,” said Seye Bandele, founder and CEO. “We invested substantially in bolstering brand awareness, refining our sales processes, cultivating authentic relationships with our audience,” Ore Badmus, Pade’s marketing lead, added.

Pade’s onboarding and payroll platform helps HR professionals automate repetitive administrative tasks. Seye Bandele and Lekan Omotosho, Pade’s CTO, who previously worked in the HR departments of large FMCGs, decided to build the tech for other businesses to carry out HR functions. 

Pade’s payroll software solution, which uses a subscription model, is the company’s biggest revenue driver. The startup also makes money from paying taxes and pensions for its clients, and in 2023, it processed ₦76 million in taxes and ₦28 million pensions.

In 2023, it launched Earned Wage Access (EWA), a feature that allows employees to draw an advance from their salaries before payday. It paid out ₦3 million in EWA last year, for which it charged withdrawal fees of 1-3%. 

Offering the EWA feature to employees on its clients’ payroll came with its bag of challenges. “Early on, establishing clear communication channels with employees was crucial,” admitted Ore Badmus, Pade’s marketing lead. 

Pade’s future moves in employee empowerment

The startup has some interesting products in the works, including a feature that lets employees save and invest a portion of their salaries. It is also building a no-code tool  HR consultants and small business owners who need access to payroll services. 

Pade raised a $500,000 pre-seed round in 2023 and is in talks for a new funding round. It has received support from the Microsoft-backed FAST startup accelerator program, which selected the startup for its first cohort in collaboration with Flapmax. Last year, the startup also got into Expert Dojo, an international early-stage startup accelerator that has invested in African startups such as Eden Life, Trade Lenda, VipLink, Aladdin, and others.

Bandele says the startup is inching toward profitability and is targeting $1 million in revenue for 2024. The startup also has plans to expand into an East African market in the near future.

Faith Omoniyi Reporter

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