Tech & Innovation October 30, 2021 at 09:00 am

Nigerian tech genius shares what it means to own Africa’s 1st API fintech ‘super-connector’

Abu Mubarik October 30, 2021 at 09:00 am

October 30, 2021 at 09:00 am | Tech & Innovation

Fara Ashiru Jituboh is Okra co-founder. Photo: Okra/Forbes

Fara Ashiru Jituboh is a Nigerian entrepreneur and an expert in over 20 programming languages. She is also the co-founder and CEO of Okra, a Nigerian-based “super-connector” which allows the secure exchange of real-time financial information between customers, applications, and banks.

In other words, the platform helps connect customers’ accounts to banking apps and retrieve real-time financial information. In return, the firm makes money from product fees earned when a customer uses the platform to connect a bank account to a third-party application.

Jituboh started Okra while in the United States in 2019 to have her baby. She stayed in the U.S. for almost a year and while there, she started using apps like Mint to manage her funds directly from her phone, according to Forbes.

When she returned to Nigeria, she noticed the apps were not functioning because they were not connected to Nigerian banks. Jituboh identified a market gap from her predicament and decided to develop a similar app. She developed Okra to connect her own bank account.

Okra became oversubscribed within six months after it was launched, and not even the pandemic could slow the new startup. As a testament to her company’s rising success, Jituboh recently raised $1 million in pre-seed round.

One of the top investors in the pre-round was TLcom. For TLcom, Okra is an outlier in their portfolio and investing in Okra was their first in the fintech space, Forbes reported. The company invested in Okra’s infrastructure and also brought to the fore the expertise that Okra needs since TLcom has vast experience investing in Africa. In April this year, Okra said it has banked a $3.5 million seed round led by the U.S.-based Susa Ventures. This means that as of April this year, the API company has raised a total of $4.5 million in two funding rounds.

“We build the tools that businesses need to achieve full digital transformation and we are excited to be welcoming some highly strategic global investors as we scale our open finance as a service operation,” Jituboh said at the time.

“The opportunities to collaborate and grow together are significant and we are now in a strong position to continue to build and scale in Africa and global API space.”

Jituboh was born in Nigeria but grew up in the U.S. As a teenager, she spent a year in Nigeria and moved back to the U.S. But it was her quest to do something big and impactful in the West Africa nation and that influenced her to make a permanent move to settle in Nigeria.

“I can do something really big and really impactful [here]. There’s so much more opportunity to do, to solve so many problems,” Jituboh told Forbes.

Her first project in Nigeria was to build technology for other companies such as AXA Mansard, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, and Airtel.

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