Meet the CEO of Flutterwave, the Nigerian start-up that became a $1 billion firm in five years

Abu Mubarik October 04, 2021
Olugbenga Agboola is the Co-founder and CEO of San Francisco and Lagos-based Flutterwave. Image via Instagram/Flutterwave

Olugbenga Agboola is the co-founder and CEO of San Francisco and Lagos-based Flutterwave, a fintech company that has become a $1 billion startup in five years. Before becoming the CEO in 2018, Agboola was the Chief Technology Officer. Iyinoluwa Samuel Aboyeji was then the CEO but stepped down in 2018.

Agboola was born in 1985 in Nigeria’s largest commercial city, Lagos, which is located in the western part of Nigeria. The entrepreneur had his early education in Nigeria before moving to the United States to continue with his education.

He has an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a master’s degree in Information Technology Security and Behavioral Engineering. In addition, Agboola has a standard IT security certification from the EC-Council University. He also has a Project Management and Advance Computing degree from the University of Westminister in London.

Agboola has acquired skills in ethical hacking, Javascript, product marketing, retail banking, service administration, care management solutions, PHP applications, among others.

Flutterwave is one of about four or six unicorns ($1 billion-plus startups) in Africa. According to Agboola, he started the company to make it easy for Africans to make or receive international payments.

“We started Flutterwave due to the fragmented nature of payments in Africa— there were multiple ways of making and receiving payments within countries but cross-border payments remained a hassle. This made it difficult for individuals like myself or businesses to make or receive international payments in Africa,” he told Shoppe Black.

He continued: “It was easier for me to send and receive money from the UK than to do the same from Lagos to Nairobi. We saw an opportunity to address this problem and worked with a group of passionate Engineers, Bankers, Designers, Builders, and Marketers to build Flutterwave, to simplify payments for endless possibilities.”

Today, Flutterwave supports international payments for over 34 countries and processes payments across 150 currencies. Also, the fintech firm has over 300,000 businesses using their solutions to receive money from customers.

When COVID-19 hit and countries instituted lockdown measures that affected brick and mortar businesses, Flutterwave assisted many of Africa’s shops and restaurants by hosting digital storefronts. This initiative helped 200,000 small businesses suddenly without foot traffic set up online shops, receive payments and arrange delivery options, according to Time.

In 2020 alone, the company processed more than 80 million transactions, worth $7.5 billion, cementing itself as Africa’s foremost cash payment-solution.

Flutterwave was not the first of its kind in Africa when it was co-started in 2016 by Agbool. But perhaps, the point of its success can be attributed to the fact it was a financial tech platform that had a lot of input from those in finance.

Often, the process of technological innovation can seem like a developer’s license to play to the gallery. The app or whatever is developed could therefore lose its ergonomic utility. Flutterwave turned out differently and by 2018, it was a market leader in sub-Saharan Africa.

A digital payment app known for being seamless and secure, Flutterwave continues to be the choice for small to medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 4, 2021


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