How this Nigerian is helping immigrant families in Canada borrow money without interest

Abu Mubarik March 04, 2022
Akeem Adebisi, left, created the app AjoPro in Winnipeg in 2019, to help racialized communities manage their finances. Photo credit: CBC

Akeem Adebisi is a Nigerian fintech entrepreneur and the founder and Chief Executive Officer of AjoPro. The entrepreneur launched the fintech app after noticing how people in Winnipeg, Canada, struggled in the formal banking system.

He encountered situations where people could not raise money to pay off student loans or save in order to purchase a home. Another concern for him was people getting payday loans without knowing how the system works.

In fact, he was a ‘victim’ of the payday loan system. He recalled taking a payday loan and saw himself crumble under mounting interest payments. According to him, he dealt with it by finding money elsewhere to pay off the loan he took.

He told Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that it is a challenge most people face when they first come to Canada and the banking system is not helping that. In this regard, he started AjoPro in 2019 to provide an opportunity for Black people or immigrant families to borrow money without interest and avoid costly payday loans.

“You know, a lot of people are struggling in our community,” he said. “I mean, the Black community here in Manitoba, doing three jobs, doing four jobs, you know, just to make ends meet.”

He told CNC that the AjoPro app saw $2 million in transactions in 2021.

“If you look at the response that people have been giving us on our Google, our Google Play or our Android Apple Store, you will see tremendous joy,” he said. “It’s a feeling that you know, one can’t really describe: the fact that you are making people happy, you are changing lives, you’re making people feel like they belong.”

Adebisi first came to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family in 2015. He got his first job at Shell Communications. Among other things, his duty included taking calls. And according to him, he would usually spend like eight hours picking phone calls.

“I have never in my life have to talk to people for like eight hours. You know, it was pretty intense and sometimes people just call you names, people just not minding where you are coming… and to them, your accent is ‘bush,’” he said.

Despite the pressure and sometimes outright racism he faced in his first job, Adesibi saw it as a learning curve. According to him, he initially wanted to work on his accent but decided against it, saying it is “something he is proud of.”

Seeing people use his platform to pay their school fees, buy a house or establish themselves in Canada brings Adesibi nothing but an absolute joy.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 4, 2022


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