Creating an African Fintech Giant — Olugbenga Agboola, Co-Founder & CEO of Flutterwave
In this episode, Miguel Armaza sits down with Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Co-Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, a revolutionary company building the digital payments infrastructure for Africa that’s enabling businesses to receive or make payments across the continent and the entire globe.
Launched in 2016, Flutterwave has grown at an astonishing rate and in 2019 processed 107 million transactions worth $5.4 billion. The company has also raised over $55 million in equity from a long list of top VCs, including Y-Combinator, Visa Ventures, Fintech Collective, Endeavor, Mastercard, Golden Palm Investments, and many more!
Prior to Flutterwave, GB spent many years in different roles building products and managing teams within the financial sector. From established financial institutions like Sterling Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland, to tech and fintech powerhouses like Google and PayPal. Seeing different innovative and successful payment solutions around the world, led him to think about the many ways he could bring his learnings back home to Africa and solve a highly fragmented payments ecosystem in the continent.
Re-Designing a Continental Ecosystem
GB realized there were strong payment systems in some African countries, but none of these solutions could interoperate with each other and there were very few affordable ways for users to make payments across platforms or international borders. So he decided to do something about it.
Flutterwave was founded to change the ecosystem and build an Africa-wide payments infrastructure to connect all payment types in the continent and bring a single-use payment solution to any merchant or small business. In other words, allow business owners to accept payments from customers without having to worry about compliance requirements, infrastructure technology, or having to deal with multiple payment providers. In just four years, Flutterwave has expanded to 15 countries, including the United Kingdom.
The Secret Sauce
When asked about their competitive advantages, GB was quick to point out that the company’s secret sauce and main driving force is their people. He describes his leadership style as “Empathetic Leadership” and tells us they recruit people with potential who can grow along with Flutterwave’s fast growth while espousing five key values:
- Maintaining Customer Focus
- Building trust capital
- Staying loyal to one another
- Communicating respectfully
- Creating and Innovating.
“We want to be a company that takes the customers seriously above everything else. For Africa by Africans. Global, yet local. Our job here is to be an African company from Africa by Africans”
Fintech and Entrepreneurship in Africa
Fintech in Africa is rapidly evolving and GB is excited about the road ahead. He is particularly bullish on the future of digital banking, investment platforms, and regulatory tech and can point out several impressive entrepreneurs building fintech startups that will revolutionize the region, “The Building blocks are being built by entrepreneurs across the entire continent and they are scaling across borders.”
As the startup scene in the continent continues to evolve, his advice to entrepreneurs is to always know and remember why they are on this path and to always stay true to that path. He reminds them it is easy to get distracted and jump to a different road, but the path to success will require a lot of focus and conviction, in his own words “it is important for people to understand their goals, their path, and why that path is important, and stay true to that path (…) Many approaches work, but only if you stay true to your conviction.”
Olugbenga Agboola is the co-founder and CEO of Flutterwave. Prior to co-founding Flutterwave, Olugbenga contributed to the development of fintech solutions at several tech companies and financial institutions such as PayPal, Standard Bank, among others. He is a serial entrepreneur with two successful exits under his belt. He is a software engineer with a master’s degree in information technology security and behavioral engineering and an MBA.
Flutterwave is a technology company headquartered in San Francisco with operations and offices across Africa and Europe. The company was launched in 2016 with the goal of building digital payments infrastructure for Africa and enable businesses to receive or make any payments across Africa and globally. Since inception, Flutterwave has processed billions of dollars across all product platforms and has been the recipient of several awards including the “Top 100 Fintech Firms” around the world.