Donors for Africa Foundation recently hosted the second cohort of the African Social Innovators Boot Camp.
The African Social Innovators Boot Camp (ASIBC) Cohort II received 187 applications from social leaders based in 23 African countries; 45 innovators were selected to receive intensive training from leading professionals across Africa on how they can continue to address the SDGs and break issues of poverty in Africa.
The shortlisted innovators went through a pitch competition and Gbenga Owoye founder, Ajobank.ng who is using technology to create financial inclusion for marginalized communities emerged as the winner.
Olugbenga Owoye is a trained financial analyst with 3+ years of experience. He has a certificate in financial markets from Yale and Quantitative modeling from Wharton School of Business. Owoye is the founder of Ajobank, a digital platform that provides access to savings and loans at zero interest rates. He was selected as one of the top 9 from Africa by Daikin-Samurai Incubate, Japan to pitch at the finals in Kenya. He is also a blockchain enthusiast, crypto investor, and financial literacy coach.
The Donors for Africa team interviewed their ASIBC winner, you can read excerpts below;
Can you tell us more about your work in creating financial inclusion?
My passion comes from my life experience. I’m from an average family so I understand what it means to fight and struggle for survival. My goal is to help reduce poverty in Nigeria by 40% before 2040.
Looking at the problems we have in Nigeria, a country with a population of over 200 million. According to the Credit Bureau, only 2% of bankable Nigerians have access to reliable financial solutions. Research also shows 37% of the adult population is financially excluded in Nigeria (Source – Nairametrics, 2019).
With the current economic downturn we have in the country, the poverty level has increased. I believe it is left to us to build the nation we seek, I’m only doing my part.
Ajobank started as a side project, created to solve financial problems for a group of friends and family. In December 2019, Ajobank was recognized by Daikin-Samurai Incubate from Japan as top 9 brilliant startups from Africa to pitch at the finals in Kenya. This was the beginning of our journey. Early 2020, we got into the Savvy fellowship and we were also selected by Donors for Africa as a new innovator in the Social Innovation Bootcamp Cohort 2 (SIBC 2020/2021) where we emerged the winner of the pitch competition. In late 2020, we were selected by Earthtech Venture (Together In Action) from Australia as the top 2% global venture. All these have resulted in a lot of interest from investors and potential partners from within and outside Africa.
What have been some of your biggest challenges?
If you had asked me this question 2 years ago, I would have said funding is our major challenge. Even though we are actively seeking funding to grow to the next stage, it’s not the most important issue.
Startup is quite hard in Nigeria, you need to have the right execution strategy to enter the market, you also have to worry about the right price model. A lot of times you get confused.
In late 2019, I had to shut down my first startup. It was a painful decision and we learnt a lot from that. The experiences and lessons learnt from that have helped us to shape and build Ajobank. My favorite quote for that was “we didn’t fail, we just found a way that won’t work”.
Another major challenge I had, in the beginning, was having the right mentors around me. A couple of months back I had a long conversation with Anthony Oduwole, Co-founder VertoFx UK , and I gained so much insight in one conversation than reading a whole textbook. I have also learnt a lot from other prominent co-founders like Damilola Olokesusi, co-founder Shuttlers and this has helped my personal and professional growth.
What does the next level look like?
At this stage, business support and advisory are crucial. We are very particular about growth and we are open to exploring other ways or strategies to scale up our impact. Sometimes as cofounders we are so fixated on the solution we created that we don’t consider other options that could be better and have even more impact. But an expert looking at the bigger picture could spot an opportunity we missed and guide us to achieving set goals. As I mentioned earlier, mentorship is valuable. We also require access to finance to improve company structure and build team strength. We are 100% certain of the social impact of our venture and we are currently open to angels and VC who would like to be a part of our journey.
The next level for us would be having the capacity to directly impact at least 10,000 people. In as much as we know we would still have a few challenges to overcome and hurdles to scale, growth is very key for us. In the next 5 to 10 years, we want to have impacted at least 1 million people in Nigeria and expand to other African countries. The great thing about solutions like ours is that we are easily scalable and this can geometrically multiply our impact. We are also not just only impact-driven, we aim to maximize profitability and contribute to economic growth. We want to get to the level where we look back and see an army of people working with us in different countries to improve the lives of Africans.
How did the Donors for Africa ASIBC make a difference?
DFA SIBC was an amazing 3 months of growth. From the training to the mentorship, it was really enlightening. I remember my mentorship class with cofounder Budgit, Joseph Agunbiade, sharing his life lessons and startup journey. These helped us gain more clarity on our goal. I personally value mentorship a lot because I believe the best way to grow is to follow people who have succeeded in that industry and learn from them. Also, Chidi is a great teacher, her energy is contagious. I really look forward to working with Chidi and learning more from her. Winning the sum of 200,000 naira as the winner of the Pitch competition means a lot, thank you DFA!!!
About Donors For Africa Foundation
Donors for Africa connects funding and development agencies to competent indigenous organizations implementing change on the African continent. Over $30million in direct and indirect funds were raised. This amount includes funds raised by the nonprofits whom we have trained, mentored, and supported.
These funds were used to launch projects such as building libraries, training marginalized women, setting up career platforms for Person Living with Disabilities, and more.
DFA has trained over 1000 local nonprofits across Africa, and we reach over 31,000 unique accounts weekly with the knowledge to build strong institutions. We launched the premiere African Social Innovators Bootcamp targeted at empowering social impact leaders across Africa teaching them brand, marketing, and visibility strategies.
Cohort III of the African Social Innovators Boot Camp opens in September 2021.
Email: mail (at) donorsforafricafoundation.org
Supported by #BNDoGood – This post has been published for free as part of BellaNaija’s commitment to development and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa