By Chanel Retief
From Hollywood exports and Grammy artists to award-winning ideas that can save the world, Africa is not only diverse in its people but also in its industries and creativity. For FORBES AFRICA hundredth issue (since the magazine’s inception in 2011), we decided to curate a list celebrating these very ideas, inventions, and influential role models that have spelled Africa’s growth over the last decade.
Nigerian company, Flutterwave, is based on a financial application programming interface that makes it simpler to process payments across Africa. It is not just a useful tool for individuals, but also an enabling technology because it helps other businesses, including start-ups. And while Flutterwave is useful within countries, the unique nature of Africa makes it doubly useful across borders. Olugbenga GB Agboola, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, speaks to FORBES AFRICA:
F. Please tell us more about the type of work that Flutterwave.
Olugbenga GB Agboola: is a payments technology company making it easier for individuals and businesses to make and receive payments from anywhere in the world through an API. We have helped global brands like Uber execute a quick and strategic African expansion. We have products for solopreneurs, small-medium, and enterprise businesses. Some of our products include checkout which is integrated into the merchant website for processing online payments for said merchants. We have Payment Links and Online Stores for freelancers and small businesses to receive payments and list their products, respectively. We have Barter by Flutterwave; a remittance solution for sending money to friends and family from one country or continent to another. What makes us stand out is our ability to process international payments in over 150 currencies, with multiple payment modes on our payment page, including Cards, Mobile Money, Barter, Bank transfers, etc. Our payment infrastructure is available in over 33
countries, including UK, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda etc.
F. What contributions have you made to the company as an innovator.
AGBOOLA: My key contribution at Flutterwave is to listen to the experts we have hired as they offer their recommendations and support them while they implement such ideas to move the organization forward. As an innovator, the best thing you can do for the organization is to surround yourself with other innovators. The Flutterwave Store came about through this process. Some Wavers in our Product and Support team reached out with a continent-wide issue; small businesses were closing up as a result of the pandemic and lockdown. They proposed a product that would make it easier for such businesses to get online and start selling from anywhere. I listened, supported their idea and today we have the Flutterwave Store with over 20,000 businesses onboard.
F. What are some of the highlights and challenges Flutterwave has had as a company.
AGBOOLA: A challenge that came up during the early days of the pandemic and lockdown was navigating how to move a team of over two-hundred people fully remote. We had only tried remote work partially so it was a big test of how our remote policies will remain in effect after going 100% remote at such short notice. But we did, seamlessly. Our people now spend more time with family and friends, get to avoid the tedious commutes and more. We’re happy to have surmounted that challenge. For our highlight, we’d never seen how much our work impacted businesses until we launched a product to help small businesses keep the lights on during the pandemic. We received lots of testimonials on how the Flutterwave Store helped small businesses thrive at a difficult time. There was a poultry owner who sold more eggs than expected with the Flutterwave Store, a bag reseller who received 1000 orders in 3 days and a food vendor who received payments from Qatar for delivery to a friend in Nigeria.
F. Please comment on the importance of having more innovators originate from the African continent?
AGBOOLA: Africa needs more innovators and backers. It is crucial that Africa continues to produce home grown innovators. It is even more important that we create systems that back these innovators to grow, thrive and achieve their potentials. This does two things; multiplies wealth in the continent by ensuring that these innovators translate their ideas into viable economic activities, and encourages the future generation of innovators to come forward with their innovations and ideas. Africa needs more innovators and may I add that Africa already has an encouraging
number of innovators with excellent heads on their shoulders. They need support in the form of accelerators, funding and a robust support system that can help them achieve their goals and grow the continent.
F. Please comment on Forbes Africa celebrating you in their 100th issue by putting Flutterwave on the Innovators list.
AGBOOLA: We are grateful for the recognition. Forbes Africa has been a great partner and supporter of innovation in the continent. When you celebrate innovation, the future generation is encouraged to continue putting in the work. Our belief is that in the next version of this list, more innovators who may have not been known by now will be discovered. Africa has the brightest people you can think of in the world. We built Flutterwave and other groundbreaking technologies. We can do more, all we need is the right level of support.