Folake Edun has successfully leveraged her experience as Manager in Deloitte UK and Chapel Hill Denham to deliver real-world solutions making a difference and having a positive impact on the way of life of Africans. Observing a trend in rising trade, tourism, and foreign investment in Africa, she became very passionate about creating sustainable solutions to address the impact of insecurity on businesses on the continent.
This passion led to Folake co-founding Towntalk, a data intelligence company committed to providing the security industry in emerging markets with the software and tools to support the real-time delivery of core security services. The global physical security sector is currently worth over $160bn, but service provision in developing countries remains inadequate due to major gaps in intelligence gathering and responsive emergency services.
Folake teamed up with Disun Vera-Cruz and Dr. Tomiwa Erinosho to start Towntalk with a mission to build Africa’s most robust security intelligence and response infrastructure. In the three years since, Towntalk has conducted bespoke projects and raised Venture Capital funding to build its software, tools, and APIs to support the currently wholly traditional security sector.
Starting Towntalk was a personal initiative for Folake; the motivation to have Nigeria’s data represented in a more efficient and accurate way and informed by bespoke technical know-how. She and her team share an early milestone of collating and analyzing security incidents in the lead-up to the 2019 Nigerian Presidential elections to deliver an accurate report of our democratic process. During this project, the team realized that most events impacting businesses and individuals in remote communities were not reported online because of limited access to technology.
Towntalk first built an innovative data collection model by steadily growing a community of 45,000 trusted sources, created through strategic collaborations where verified individuals and emergency responders were given access to their Area! mobile App, WhatsApp Chatbot, and USSD code. The company also developed an Artificial Intelligence tool - Pulse - to curate, verify, analyze and act on real-time risk indicators. The strategic integration of community engagement and technology enables Towntalk to deliver early warning alerts, navigation, and periodic reports to businesses, travelers, and mobile workers at scale.
Towntalk then acted on its community’s request for post-incident management and embarked on the arduous task of collating and verifying emergency responders across Nigeria. To date, Towntalk has an easily accessible database of 15,000 emergency responders across Nigeria categorized by type and location.
Fast-forward to 2022, the company has recently launched pulse as a Service which powers security companies to upsell services to their clients and provide insights when needed the most. The company believes that this will grow the revenue of security companies overwhelmed by market pressures to lower the cost of their current services.
Folake explained how Towntalk was able to help the community and business owners in Nigeria at the peak of the pandemic. “Towntalk gathered data when security and safety were on people’s minds at the height of COVID-19”. The company is also taking this further by creating a Travel Safety Package that allows travelers in new and unfamiliar locations to receive location-relevant security briefings and real-time support.
Folake has aligned her values of transparency and inclusion with the operations of Towntalk by demonstrating her passion for creating more representation in a male-dominated tech space. To do this, she mentors young women and has modeled her company to be 70% women-driven. Her unwavering commitment to changing the narrative for data collection in Africa is paving the way for a more sustainable future for young Africans, but most importantly young African women.