TLcom Capital is a VC funding firm that rarely invests in start-up companies or fintech, which is a testament to Okra’s brilliance. The Lagos API developer company created an app that lets users connect their bank accounts to third party applications.
Okra was founded in June 2019 by Fara Ashiru Jituboh and David Peterside and has positioned itself as Africa’s 21st-century financial solution.
It is also the first API in Africa to deliver real-time bank financial data from a bank account to any third-party application.
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“We’re building a super-connector API that…allows individuals to connect their bank accounts directly to third party applications. And that’s their African bank accounts starting in the largest market in Africa, Nigeria,” said Ashiru Jituboh.
Fintech is one of the most economically viable companies in Africa right now, with several companies including Flutterwave, Interswitch and Paystack, among others receiving up to two billion dollars in funding over the last few years.
Many of these companies simplify payments and promote financial inclusion in Africa, making payment processing easier for the African population which has the largest population of unbanked people, according to The Global Findex Database.
Okra is different from these companies, however, as according to Ashiru Jituboh, the API does not do payments, instead choosing to focus on making payment processes smoother.
Okra offers several options for directly connecting bank accounts to third-party applications. The company has several paid packages and generates revenue every time a customer connects their card to an application.
Okra has already secured clients in the form of major players in the Nigerian financial industry, including PalmPay, Axa Mansard and Renmoney.
At Okra, Fara is both CTO and CEO. She told Forbes: “If I’m not coding, I feel guilty like I’m not doing my work. But if I’m coding, I can feel like there are some high-level things I should be dealing with. You need to find balance.”
As part of the investment, TLcom Capital’s partners, Andrea Muforo and Ido Sum will join Okra’s board.
Speaking on the investment, Muforo said: “We are always looking for startups with the potential for high value-generation and Okra’s technology provides the foundation for new fintech solutions in Africa for years to come. Equally, it was important for us to know that their leadership had the entrepreneur-led focus which is crucial for execution.
“Fara’s background was vital here — she’s an expert in over 20 programming languages, worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies and is a great example of why we’re committed to investing in more female founders. She leads by example and we have seen her and David build a really exciting business, in a little under a year, we’re excited to help them grow further.”
The company is currently seeking to hire fresh engineering talent and is seeking to expand its service across Africa.