Your reaction when you read that headline is the same one I had a few weeks ago. 😮
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is saying goodbye to Andela, the talent accelerator he co-founded in 2014 and one of Nigeri-scratch that, Africa’s flagship startups. His latest venture is called Flutterwave, and it is an end-to-end payments platform that touches all bases in payments processing (from being a Gateway, to mitigating risk, to settlements), not just a consumer facing PSP (Payments Service Provider) like we’re used to seeing.
Iyin’s thesis is that no matter how many businesses you build or how many entrepreneurs you empower, Africa will still not grow as fast as it should if these people cannot capture value from their creations. He said in an email to the Andela team, “Despite all the entrepreneurial spirit and expertise in Lagos, businesses still have trouble conducting transactions that are an afterthought in most of the world, it’s a problem that is prohibitive to the future growth of the continent, and one that I felt I could no longer ignore. So I decided to do something about it.”
QZ Africa reports that Flutterwave has been in private beta for weeks in Nigeria and Ghana, working with clients like Uber, Access Bank, Paystack, and Page Microfinance. In these weeks, it’s transacted around $20 million in value, and that uptick prompted Iyin to leave Andela to focus on payments full-time.
The Flutterwave team (who will work out of San Francisco, Lagos, and Accra) is currently being assembled and they’ve received funding from YCombinator (arguably the most popular seed accelerator programme in the world), VCFintech, a 12-week accelerator programme by FIS, and CRE VC, a South African Venture Capital fund (who’s also an investor in Andela, Angani, Delivery Science, Prepclass, etc) to get the party started. If this bet works out, Flutterwave would have solved the persistent payments problem that’s caused many-a-merchant to tear out their hair, and in the process unlocked billions of dollars in value for companies like Iyin’s last: Andela.
Iyin’s departure will throw a spanner in the engine chamber of (especially) the Nigerian tech space because he’s one of the more popular figures, and Andela’s is one of the more popular stories. I think it certainly puts the long conversation we had about founding narratives after Andela’s $24 million raise, into context.