Okra secured a $3.5 million investment in a Seed Round led by US-based Susa Ventures, existing investor TLcom Capital, and newcomers Accenture Ventures. The Nigerian fintech platform and Open Finance (API Economy) pioneers had just closed a $1 million pre-seed round with TLcom Capital about a year ago.
Okra has now obtained a total of $4.5 million seed funding and plans to deploy this towards expanding its data infrastructure across Nigeria, the executives say.
“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 operations,” Okra co-founder and CEO/CTO, Fara Ashiru Jituboh, says about the just closed Seed Round.
Okra’s Open Finance platform is the digital transformation tool for businesses in Africa. It offers an API that enables developers and business owners to build personalized digital services and fintech products for their customers.
Commenting on the company’s plan beyond the shore of its birth country, Jituboh continues, “The opportunities to collaborate and grow together are significant, and we are now in a strong position to continue to build and scale in the African and global API space.”
Since its launch in January 2020, Okra has provided its services to high calibre financial institutions, startups, and government agencies including, Interswitch, Access Bank, uLesson, Aella App (YC W17) and over 100 other digital-first platforms.
David Peterside, Okra co-founder and COO, says that a digital-first experience for customers is the next big step for companies that want to be around for much longer. “The companies that will dominate the business landscape over the next decade are prioritizing a digital-first experience for their customers today — and will leverage data & personalization to win market share over time,” Peterside said.
With consumer behaviour in Africa changing and more of them demanding full digital experiences of all services — including financial services, Okra’s importance is crystal clear. It is stepping in to fill the need for its clients in Nigeria, and it aims to expand to other African countries and the rest of the world soon.
The Seed Round is a green checkmark on the fintech’s score sheet and advances its reputation. “Having Accenture Ventures join us at Seed stage speaks volumes about our team’s ability to execute at a global scale,” Peterside concluded.
Within under a year since its launch Okra saw an average month-on-month API call growth of 281%. In only March 2021, it analyzed 20M+ transactions and over 5.5M transaction lines.
Susa Ventures, a San Francisco-based company, has a reputation for investing early in Silicon Valley startups and was notably among the first to back Robinhood, Flexport, Andela and Fast. It is also known for co-investment endeavours with firms like Peter Theil’s Founders Fund, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, GV (Google Ventures), General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz, & Accel Partners.
Expanding on the relationship between Okra and Susa Ventures, Peterside further says, “We share the same vision on Open Finance in Africa and are excited to be working closely with the team at Susa.”
Seth Berman, General Partner at Susa, expressed the company’s delight at working with the Nigerian fintech company. “We’re thrilled to partner with Okra as they enable developers across the African continent to transform digital financial services. We’re blown away by the quality of Okra’s team, the pace of development, and the excitement from the customers building on their API,” Berman says.
Susa’s General Partners also include Chad Byers, who is the son of Brook Byers, a founding member of Kleiner Perkins; Leo Polovets, ex-LinkedIn and Google engineer; and Seth Berman, who was previously the VP of marketing at luxury goods company Richemont (CFR:VX) — owners of Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, etc.
Omobola Johnson, a Senior Partner at TLcom Capital and Former Minister of ICT in Nigeria, commented on the reputation of Okra’s co-founders, “We have consistently been impressed with Fara’s technical depth and expertise, which when combined with the entrepreneurial acumen she and David bring to the company leaves us confident that they are building Africa’s most stable and robust API infrastructure. TLcom is delighted to continue partnering with Okra.”
Rob Solomon, Chairman at GoFundMe and a former Partner at Accel; Arpan Shah, Founding engineer and ex-Head of Data Platforms/Data products at Robinhood; and Hongxia Zhong, Founding engineer and ex-Senior engineering manager at Robinhood were also involved, as angel investors, in this Seed Round.