Okra Raises $1M, From TLcom Capital


Okra raises $1m
Image Credit: Okra

New Lagos-based fintech Okra raises $1m, a surprise achievement pulled in less than a year. Meanwhile, it’s understood that TLcom Capital hardly invests in early-stage fintech or companies, contrary to that, the subject startup has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding from TLcom – a $71 million Africa-focused venture capital.

The subject startup (Okra) – is an API developer-created product that generates bidirectional revenue, from payment startups and established financial institutions. At the moment, the startup claims to be poised to enter new markets and at the same time hiring.

The startup which claims to be the interface or motherboard for the continent’s 21st-century financial system was founded in June 2019 by ‘Fara Ashiru Jituboh’ and ‘David Peterside’. However, according to ‘Ashiru Jituboh’s’ response, she said:

We are 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”.

This sector (fintech) has become the continent’s most-funded tech space, receiving an estimated sum of $2 billion in venture capital that went to the continent’s startup in 2019. This created an interphase for many ventures and established banks, racing to develop market share via financial inclusion.

Considering the sizable number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and under-bank consumers, the latest development from the subject startup (Okra raises $1m), it is understood by several estimates, that the continent is home to the largest percentage of the world’s unbanked population. Okra’s core intent is shaping a platform that will potentially connect accounts and financial data to banking applications into a revenue-generating product.

On the other hand, there is still a disconnection between fintech apps and banks, looking at Nigeria as a major financial hub, according to ‘Ashiru Jituboh’:

Here in this market, there is no way to directly connect your bank account through an API or directly to an application”.

Okra’s product generates its revenue via product fees which in turn, earns each time a user connects a bank account to a customer, according to Ashiru. On the other hand, the subject startup currently offers several paid packages for some of its integrations and opens up the code to its five product categories to developers, namely – authorization, transactions, balance, identity, and account.

In a bid to stand out, the startup claims it differs from other well-funded and established fintech companies in Africa’s most populous and economic country – Nigeria, like Interswitch or Flutterwave. Adding that: “The answer is we are not doing payments, but what we are doing is making processes with [payment providers] even smoother”, Ashiru claimed. While on the other hand, it’s been figured out that Okra has already created a series of a client list that includes mobile payments startup insurer Axa Mansard, PalmPay, and Renmoney.

Moving from Okra’s latest (Okra raising $1m) to how Ashiru’s educational background led to fintech founder. She acquired her software engineering and strong connection in the United States coupled with her studies, she studied computer science in North Carolina and also did a lot with tech companies, JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments. She added: “I went to work in startups, but I was always employee number two or three”.

In the process, she and her co-founder also figured out the challenges faced by fintech CEOs and CTOs, which shortly after Okra’s launch attracted the attention of TLcom Capital in the second quarter of 2019.

  • What is your take as Okra raises $1m from TLcom?