Building for professionals: a message from the new Director of Stears Insights

Jul 31, 2023|Yvette Uloma Dimiri

Preston, Stears’ CEO, usually writes these posts. But today, it comes from me as the newly appointed business and strategy lead for the Insights division. This is just one of the many ways Stears has evolved in the last three years; expanding from publishing to specialised intelligence divisions focused on solving information problems. Today, Stears Insights is the division responsible for solving our customers’ recurring information needs. 

Every July, we celebrate the 2020 decision to launch our insights paywall. We do this to maintain transparency and encourage conviction—backed by research of course—but conviction all the same. Pre-paywall many operators, users and even investors didn’t believe in the subscription product we were building. Still, the conviction was that unique quality that allowed us to overcome our struggles and challenges.

So today, in that vein, we would like to share with our loyal subscribers the new bets we’ll be taking and why.

Half of the Stears Insights Team in February 2020. 

#1 A focus on professional users will transform the nature and quality of our insights

When we launched Stears Insights (known as Stears Business at the time), we were driven by a simple promise to provide original analysis to help readers understand the Nigerian economy. 

Three years in, we’ve come to understand how so many of our readers rely on our work in a professional context, and that has allowed us to think about the next promise. At Stears, we’re hard-wired to push the boundaries of excellence, to resist stasis by asking, ‘How can we continue to set the gold standard for African data and insight?’ 

That’s why Stears has begun its pivot to create data-driven insights specifically for professional users interested in Africa—a large, untapped market worldwide since July of this year. 

Here’s why.

We’ve spent 60+ hours in customer interviews understanding what kind of analysis, public and proprietary data is essential to investment professionals, strategists, consultants, researchers and development workers. We found that the mission Stears is built on to close the information gap in Africa is even more urgent in the professional context.

Here are some statements we heard from professionals:

I need to understand if another cash squeeze (a repeat of Q1’23) happens in Q1’24 when the old notes cease to be legal tender.

                                                                          Commercial Lead, FMCG (Lagos, Nigeria)

As I’m researching an investment in [FMCG Company] in Nigeria, I need to know, Is there sufficient effective demand? What is the cost competitiveness to meet the demand?
                                                                           Portfolio Manager, Equity Markets (London, UK)

I need informal market rate data going back 5-6 years. If anybody is going to have that data, it's going to be Stears. We use this kind of data relatively frequently.

                                                                           Director, Private Equity (London, UK)

Accurate projections are difficult to come by. If [Stears] could be a trusted source for forward-looking at FX rate in Africa, that will be useful data.

                                                                           Vice President, Investment Banking (London, UK)

Will exports become cheaper (like in the case of China) if the official/true value of the naira depreciates further under the reform scenario? What is the implication of this?”

                                                                          Strategy Lead, FMCG (Paris, France)


What does this new focus on professionals mean in practice? 

Moving forward, our intelligence will speak primarily to global users making resource allocation decisions, looking for financial or operational opportunities, and seeking to understand risk across the African continent. We’ve already started doing this.

From holding timely Analyst Briefings in response to material policy changes, like the one we held on Navigating Nigeria’s New Exchange Reform, to spotlighting case studies in market dominance like this article on PalmPay’s impressive 25 million users, our work will adopt the lens through which many decision-makers see the world—that of optimism and opportunity. 

Our company-wide mission remains the same: to be the world’s most trusted provider of African data & insight to global professionals. This new focus further aligns us with this mission and sets the bar even higher for our data and insights.

#2 Pan African Insights will widen Stears’ sphere of influence 

When we announced our fundraising in September 2022, we discussed the opportunity ahead of us to be a genuinely Pan-African data & insights company. Over the next few months, we’ll be delivering on this goal. You can expect to see the same quality of data-driven analysis and insights from more diverse perspectives.

For instance, last week, we published a piece analysing Kenya’s missteps after removing its long-standing petrol subsidy and the subsequent impact on cost and supply efficiency. We see our presence in Kenya and South Africa as gateways to each region. This is only the beginning.

In the last year, our Head of Insights, Fadekemi Abiru, has led several trips to both regions to engage in rich, sprawling conversations with experts, academics, and industry leaders.  On July 25th of this year, we successfully conducted our first Kenyan Financial Services Roundtable, which saw a host of industry leaders come together to discuss pertinent topics like how global and domestic headwinds are shaping the outlook for Kenyan banks and the role of regulation in protecting and supporting sector growth. 

With Fadekemi’s leadership, Stears Insights will lean into providing recurring actionable data & insights for Africa’s opportunities in the coming months. To do this with the analytical rigour and local context that our global subscriber base depends on, we need some of the best talent on the continent. We're hiring if you know talented economists in Kenya or South Africa.

Lagos & Nairobi team, after our roundtable. L-R Gbemisola Alonge (Senior Economics Analyst, Nigeria), Beryl Nyajuoga (Financial Services Analyst, Kenya), Tara Olajide (Special Projects Manager), Fadekemi Abiru (Head of Insights, Africa), Noelle Okwedy (Africa Insights Lead, Energy). 

#3 Stears will deploy deeper analytical techniques to help professionals see around the corner

In February 2023, Stears combined a national opinion poll with a first-of-its-kind electoral prediction model to correctly predict the outcome of Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential election. No major poll approached their findings this way. The accuracy of the Stears poll and prediction model is an important case study of how to leverage data to answer complex questions in Africa. This is the type of confidence we want to provide to professionals.

The impact of Stears’ polls set the foundation for more modelling and analytics in our economic and market analysis. Over the last few months, we have seen Generative AI transform how the research and information industry operates, and we intend to use these new tools to deepen the quality of our intelligence. 

In the coming days, we’ll release a pilot of the Stears Approval Ratings, assessing public opinion about policy changes and political administrations. As we build on that body of work, we will explore new ways to create new intelligence. One example we’ve been toying with is how this dataset can be used to model political risk and provide useful signals for market research.

As you can see, much is changing, but our core commitment remains the same. However, our new focus on creating data-driven insights for professional users means Stears will be systemically important for informing resource allocation on the continent.

I’m a big believer that timing is most of the magic. As global headwinds like inflation and technology megatrends shape local dynamics on the African continent, like growing debt, currency depreciation, and the infrastructure gap, data will become increasingly crucial to see the opportunities. How can Kenya’s friendly energy policies catapult it to being a renewable energy superpower? How will millions of Africans with access to the Internet tap into global opportunities? How will the world's largest free trade area transform the continent? In this moment of anxiety across the continent, many decision-makers want Stears’ take on what comes next. If this sounds like you, let’s talk.

Stears Insights is committed to designing knowledge and data solutions to help professionals find opportunities and drive growth. This ambition sounds big, but it starts small. So, thanks for being part of the ride.