The Lagos, Nigeria–based company is only one of scores of start-ups in the developing world that grabbed $1.4 billion in 233 venture funding deals through the first three quarters of 2013, according to the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. Most have fast-tracked their success by tapping people power through social networks, crowd sourcing and crowdfunding.
It's not hard to see why. About 6 billion people, or 8 of every 10 people on Earth, live in emerging and frontier markets, according to the UN's report "World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision." Moreover, by 2100 Africa's population is expected to climb 400 percent, reaching 4.2 billion, while wealthy countries, including Japan, South Korea and Germany, face sharp declines, the report reveals.
Deirdre Coyle, co–chief executive of All World Network, which connects and promotes growth companies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, said social networking is baked into start-ups, in part because Third World companies face Third World conditions.
"The infrastructure in many of these emerging markets is tough—from political instability to power outages to conditions of roads—so smartphones become a huge tool for them," she said.
Another factor, Coyle said, is that developing-market entrepreneurs, as a matter of survival, have to tap social networks just to get their businesses off the ground. "They can't go to Staples to get what they want," she said. "There isn't an … ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs to financing and workforce. Sourcing and social networking is how they are doing it."
(Read more: Crowdfunding 2.0: A new era for start-up finance)
Joanna Kubba of Eureeca Capital, a crowdfunding start-up in the Persian Gulf, said social networking is a natural for developing markets where mobile phones are the default technology and national borders and identities are becoming less relevant.
"The U.S. transitioned from [personal computers]," the former Googler said. "In this part of the world, it just skipped ahead because people are much more mobile. You have people who no longer live in one community. Someone might be born in one place, educated in another and work in another."