African capital markets exist in silos, as various exchanges within the continent are often inaccessible to investors outside their home countries. For instance, a South African investor who wants to diversify their portfolio outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange may find investing in the Nigerian Stock Exchange difficult.
Not only does this limit investors’ access to high-growth securities, but it also limits access to capital that has grown in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. Per reports, major regional exchanges in Africa have raised over $80 billion in equity capital markets and $240 billion in debt capital markets.
While local retail apps such as Bamboo and Chaka offer U.S. and foreign stocks to individual consumers, they are as constrained as traditional brokers when it comes to helping consumers buy stocks and bonds across different capital markets within Africa.
This is where SecondSTAX (Secondary Securities Trading and Aggregation eXchange). comes in to take a peek at the challenge with the aim to tackle it with its cross-border, multi-asset order routing and market data portal.
SecondSTAX co-founder and chief executive officer Eugene Tawiah brings immense experience to run such an ambitious project. In addition to spending more than a decade at Goldman Sachs, he ran various consulting and tech jobs for firms in financial services and capital markets.
In 2018, a landmark event tilted his journey into building SecondSTAX. That was the year MTN Ghana, a local telecom operator, went public in the West African country after raising about $237 million. “I was having conversations with heads of trading desks and there was a sense that during MTN’s IPO, that even though one had a bunch of cash to invest, if you were not in Accra, there was no way to access or buy into that IPO,” Tawiah told TechCrunch on a call. “And so the concept I had in mind was, if I stayed in Lagos, Nairobi, or some other place outside of Accra, how do I get access to these offerings and be able to trade them?”
Tawiah co-founded the company with Duke Lartey. SecondSTAX provides access to debt and equity securities across multiple African bonds and stock exchanges. Similarly, the B2B capital markets infrastructure platform says it will assist investment firms outside Africa that want to invest in emerging and frontier economies on the continent. Investment firms onboarded on its platform can also hold assets in various currencies, thereby reducing single currency risk and reducing the volatility in their returns, whether in Africa or elsewhere, the fintech said.
Breaking down how SecondSTAX works, Tawiah says to think of his company’s platform as a layer in a series of concentric circles. The first and second circles consist of institutional investors from developed markets and those in Africa, respectively, who are interested in investing in various stocks and bonds available on African exchanges. SecondSTAX is the third circle and acts as a gateway to the fourth circle, the exchanges.