Building From The Ground Up: The Journey So Far

The Jara Team at SMWLagos 2018

The Jara Team at SMWLagos 2018

In 2016, Chinedu Onyeaso and Emeka Akano pitched, the startup they co-founded at CapitalSquare's Demo day. They had built a Minimum Viable Product and wanted feedback from our community. Since then, they've worked tirelessly build on their product and expand their subscriber base. 

The Idea Behind

The word 'jara' means bonus or extra in Nigerian pidgin. According to Chinedu and Emeka, the duo who founded, Nigerian consumers spend a lot of money on monthly bill payments (airtime, electricity. TV and internet subscription, Toll, etc) without getting rewarded for their loyalty, especially when you consider that the payment process isn't always seamless and hassle-free.

Considering that retail brands also spend a lot of money trying to reach customers via advertising, The team decided to find a way to get these brands to spend some of that advertising budget to give consumers value and reward them when they pay their bills. 

The ideas was that, would become a platform where retail brands reach consumers with a fraction of their spend on traditional advertising. In return, consumers get coupons that can be redeemed in exchange for products and services from retail brands subscribed to the platform.

With the Jara app, consumers can earn reward points when they pay their routine bills. The can then use these points to claim and redeem free credit or discounts across different categories such as food, shopping, movies, travel, etc.

Some of the retail brands you can expect to get discounts on Jara include Spar, Dominos Pizza, Puma, Uber and FilmHouse Cinema.


  Building the first iteration

The team started with building an MVP to gauge the interest for their concept from both consumers and retail brands. They pitched this MVP at one of the editions of CapitalSquare's Demo day in 2016.

Upon securing sufficient interest from brands and consumers, the team went on to build the first version of the app and spent most of 2017 doing a pilot with 1000 closed beta users and 12 retail brands.

According to Chinedu, one of the co-founders of, the pilot was a huge learning experience for the team. In his words, “It can be a humbling experience when your team spends countless hours thinking through and building a product and when you get users to try it, it doesn't quite work for them. It was tempting to push the blame to the users, but we had to learn to listen to not only what our pilot users were saying but what they were not saying or doing. Over time we gained additional insights into what our users really wanted and we had to make the painful decision to go back to the drawing board and start building from scratch again.”


The Demo day pitch at CapitalSquare

The Demo day pitch at CapitalSquare

Progress so far

According to the founders, The Jara app isn't perfect, but they've made significant progress over the past two years, and all the effort put into the first pilot has definitely yielded positive results, validating all their work.

For instance, the product was selected as one of 5 innovative products in Africa by the Social Media Week Lagos earlier this year and a few months afterwards they were one of only 2 startups selected by MasterCard to pitch at the MasterCard Innovation Dialogue event.

“More important though is the feedback we're getting from users”, says Chinedu. “The response to the product from users has been very encouraging. We still have some things to do but we can see that we're moving in the right direction. And we're working very hard to get the product to where we want it to be.”  

The Jara team created an exclusive offer for CapitalSquare community to give a discount to any of the retail brands on their platform. Here’s how to get the offer;

  • Go to and register.

  • From the side menu, go to ‘Apply Promo Code’ and enter the promo code: CAPITALSQUARE.
    When this is applied 2000 Jara points will be added to your Jara Balance.

  • With your 2000 Jara, you can claim and redeem any applicable deal from available offers.

Got feedback on your experience using the app? The Jara team would love to hear from you! Just shoot them an email on c.onyeaso[at]jaramobile[dot]com

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