Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph is the founder of the bookkeeping and finance app Kippa. He co-founded the app with his brother Duke Ekezie and another partner called Jephthah Uche in February 2021.
The app, which is mobile phone and WhatsApp friendly, targets small businesses providing them with free, easy-to-use accounting software. The company makes money by charging commission fees and earning interest by lending companies working capital.
“In Nigeria today, there are 47 million SMEs … About 280,000 merchants out of that number, have used the product. And our goal is over the next five to 10 years to capture as much of that number as possible, by building out new features, by launching new product lines,” Ekezie-Joseph told the bird story agency.
According to Ekezie-Joseph, he was inspired to create the app after seeing how the absence of sound record-keeping could impact micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. “My dad had a small business around when I was born, which he lost. And so for me, it really means a lot to build for a segment that I feel very intimately familiar with,” Ekezie-Joseph said.
With his bookkeeping mobile app Kippa, small businesses can keep track of their daily income and expense transactions, issue invoices, provide receipts to their customers and create marketing materials like business cards, he told the bird story agency.
Kippa secured $3.2 million in pre-seed funding in November. The fintech entrepreneur is planning another round of fundraising, adding that he and his team will be talking to investors over the next couple of months.
Before starting Kippa, Ekezie-Joseph played a major role in TikTok’s entry into Africa. He was part of a small group that led the tech giant into Africa. Ekezie-Joseph holds a master’s degree from Beijing’s top research university. It was from this university that he got the opportunity to work with TikTok and became part of the group that led the company’s expansion into Africa.
According to him, quitting TikTok and relocating to Nigeria to start Kippa was not a challenging decision for him. He said the plan was always to eventually move back to Nigeria and build a start-up and the onset of the pandemic in China gave him the perfect reason to make the move back and take the leap.
Speaking on the impact of Covid-19 on the continent, Ekezie-Joseph admitted that while it has negatively affected the continent, it has also helped grow the tech space in Africa.
“That was the first time many merchants understood that they could do business online. That was the first time many consumers understood that they could transact with merchants online. So it almost helped us leapfrog the absence of trust around digital tools. And that’s been super helpful. And more and more people are doing business online now. So that is very significant for our growth as a business,” he said.
Ekezie-Joseph was Nigeria’s #1 ranked competitive debater for two years. He has been awarded and personally recognized by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England, PM Theresa May, Sir John Major (Former British PM), David Beckham, Caroline Kennedy (John F. Kennedy’s daughter & US Ambassador), and Nile Rodgers.
The 23-year-old has also won President Obama’s Young African Leaders Fellowship and the Resolution Fellowship.