IYINOLUWA ABOYEJI, H’10
Using Tech to Enable Africa’s Success
“Technology is one of the highest leveraging tools that we have for creating change in the world and transforming people’s lives.”
Bringing Tech to Africa
THE INSPIRATION. Aboyeji cites two major events that were catalysts in his pursuit of serial entrepreneurship. When Aboyeji was 14 years old, he lost a number of his colleagues in plane crash. This unfortunate incident caused a major shift in his life because it was the first time he saw the impact of broader society on the lives of individuals. He was inspired to advocate for higher airline safety measures and started thinking about the private sector and entrepreneurship as viable avenues for change.
The other catalyst was during 2014 when a stampede occurred in a stadium in Abuja, Nigeria. 90,000 young Nigerians were clambering for an immigration job in this stadium, which triggered the stampede, resulting in the deaths of several people. As a fellow Nigerian, the magnitude of the youth unemployment problem and its hazards hit Aboyeji hard. The incident made him wonder, was it possible that all these people were having the same experience, that they were not seen as having any value? Was this the best they believed they could do? This motivated him to prove that young Africans could be invested in to create value for the world.
THE JOURNEY. From a young age, Aboyeji recognised the power of technology and its ability to transform people’s lives — its capability to give anybody the tools to influence and build the future. He was disappointed with the barriers created by structure, control, and politics that he experienced during his work at the United Nations in New York. He saw the contrast between his own experience and the experience of a former schoolmate in Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurship and technology were given free reign. He wondered if technology could create the same opportunities for youth in Africa as it did for people in Silicon Valley. Throughout his journey as a serial entrepreneur, Aboyeji realized that Africa faced a number of challenges, especially in the education and financial sectors, that stood in the way of success for African businesses. So he decided to use technology as a way to address them all.
To minimize the risk for global investors and to create opportunities for African businesses, Aboyeji began with addressing challenges in the education sector. His first venture was Bookneto.com, a social learning platform for sharing and organizing resources within learning communities. After Bookneto.com was acquired by the Canadian Innovation Center in 2013, Aboyeji co-launched Fora in order to provide a distance learning platform for African universities. He encountered the challenge of working effectively with government regulators, so he pursued another approach.
Aboyeji’s next step with co-founding Andela gave him more freedom and flexibility as an entrepreneur and allowed him to broaden his goals. Andela is a training company that matches developers in emerging markets not known in technology hubs. Andela seeks the brightest minds on the African continent who are passionate about technology and enrolls them into educational programs. By remunerating students to take the training programs, Aboyeji and his team introduced a new infrastructure for learning that was not beholden to the traditional regulations of universities. The goal is to groom these bright minds so they can build tech products that will change the world.
Aboyeji built upon the success of each of his ventures, creating a path for education and access to opportunities for African entrepreneurs. His most recent venture serves as a culmination of the building blocks he put in place and came to fruition due to his work at Andela. One thing that became apparent to him was that there was a clear opportunity with digital transformation, but that businesses in Africa still consistently met the problem of digital payments. With the founding of Flutterwave, a digital payments infrastructure was implemented that connects Africa to the global economy. The finance technology of the platform helps banks and businesses build more seamless and secure payments experiences for their customers. Flutterwave has a mission to create a complete payment solution so that African ventures can thrive in a global economy. Given his experience with Andela, Aboyeji knew that young African entrepreneurs could be invested in to create value for the world — they just needed to have access to the opportunities of technology and the global market.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ANDELA
Andela scales high performing distributed engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers. Every Andela developer has both the technical skills and the people skills to solve problems and drive results. The Developer Framework is an Andela-wide standard that describes and delineates what success means at each stage of the developer journey.
LEARN MORE ABOUT FLUTTERWAVE
The mission of Flutterwave is to inspire a new wave of success across Africa by building payments infrastructure to connect Africa to the global economy. Founded in 2016 by a team of African payments, technology and banking veterans from Standard Bank, Google Wallet, Andela and Paypal amongst others, Flutterwave provides the award-winning technology core needed to provide businesses all around the world with a powerful, reliable, and intelligent payments gateway.
A Serial Entrepreneur in Africa
ABOUT IYINOLUWA ABOYEJI
The Results of A Serial Entrepreneur in Africa
Before he became a premier serial entrepreneur in Africa, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji went to Columbia International College and earned degrees in International Development, Legal Studies, and Economics. Aboyeji furthered his education at the University of Waterloo, where he earned a B.A in Legal Studies.
He went on to found several companies that use technology to build Africa’s future. His goal is to mitigate the risk so that global enterprises will invest in African entrepreneurs and so that African businesses will have the opportunities they deserve.
THE RESULTS. Each of Aboyeji’s ventures attracted the attention of major global investors who committed to investing in African businesses. Bookneto.com was acquired by a Canadian university. Andela received direct investment from Mark Zuckerberg and is on track with its vision to train 100,000 tech leaders across Africa by 2025. Through these leaders in technology, Aboyeji believes that the next Facebook, the next Oculus, the next Instagram could emerge out of Africa.
Image source: andela.com
Aboyeji’s largest venture, Flutterwave, is changing how money moves for an entire continent. The venture made it easier for Africans to build global businesses that can make and accept any payment, anywhere from across Africa and around the world. With $2.5 billion payments processed, 100 million transactions processed, 50 bank partners in Africa, and over 1200 developers building on Flutterwave, the company has attracted major global investment players like Uber and Flywire. As more African entrepreneurs connect to global investors and utilize the Flutterwave technology and products, the more the continent as a whole starts to thrive in the global market. We’re excited to see what Aboyeji will do next.
I AM A HARAMBEAN
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji became a Harambean in 2010 when he was just 19. He values the opportunities afforded by being a Harambean:
“Being a Harambean gave me an opportunity to connect with young people who were not only relatedly minded, but mission minded with deep concern for the growth of the African continent. Harambe is a vast alliance network — I’ve found friends, co-workers, and investors at Harambe.”