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African CEOs - April 24, 2022

Nigerian Entrepreneur Iyinoluwa Aboyeji Built $2m Businesses Under 30 Years

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is a business growth expert. He was the CEO of Flutterwave, Africa’s fourth fintech unicorn, from 2016 to 2018.

During his time at the company, the startup became one of the fastest-growing payments technology enterprises of all time, processing more than $2 billion in transactions and generating millions of dollars in yearly revenue. 

It also garnered considerable funding from established companies in the global payments space, including Y Combinator, Greycroft, Greenvisor Capital, and Mastercard, to name a few. 

Before co-founding and running Flutterwave, Iyinoluwa also co-founded and led Andela, Africa’s largest technical organisation with over 1000 software engineers, which garnered funding from Mark Zuckerberg and Google Ventures. 

He currently serves on the boards of various organisations, including Paris’ Share Africa Project, Rainbow Educational Services Limited, and Filmo Realty.

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The early days

Iyinoluwa was born on March 28, 1991, in Warri, Delta State. He was raised in Lagos, Abuja, and Warri at various times in his life.

In 2007, he graduated from Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja and went on to Columbia International College. 

At Columbia, he acquired degrees in International Development, Legal Studies, and Economics before continuing his career at the University of Waterloo, where he received a B.A. in Legal Studies.

Entrepreneurship journey

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji worked for various local and international organisations as a teenager, including the World Youth Alliance at the United Nations Headquarters and Imprint Publications, one of Canada’s largest student-owned publishing firms.

Despite his legal degree, Iyinoluwa has always been a techie. He was intrigued by emerging breakthroughs in education technology and pedagogy.

When he was 19, he co-founded Bookneto, a social e-learning platform for University instructors to teach online courses autonomously by combining simple access to academic information and resources with the power of social networking to help students connect and study. 

The startup was later acquired by the Canadian Innovation Center in 2013.

Later that year, he co-founded Fora, a remote learning platform for African colleges, with other friends. Aboyeji and others went on to other ventures after Fora failed to meet expectations.

Andela

In 2014, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and his longtime white friend, Jeremy Johnson, founded Andela, a talent accelerator that hires and trains software developers, pays them while they study, and connects them with companies.

It grew to be one of Nigeria’s most well-known businesses and was such a great success that CNN branded it “harder to get into than Harvard.” 

Google also backed the startup, and it got a $24 million investment from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

In just two years, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji grew Andela to over $100 million market capitalisation.

The Flutterwave switch

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji left Andela in 2016 to create Flutterwave, based in San Francisco, California but focused on providing an inclusive digital payment service in Africa.

 Flutterwave’s overarching goal was to provide technology, infrastructure, and services to allow global merchants, payment service providers, and Pan-African institutions to carry out personalised financial solutions on a much larger scale.

The company currently enables African companies to expand globally by facilitating the exchange of funds in more than 150 currencies. 

The app includes API developers may use to create their own financial apps.

Aboyeji served as CEO of Flutterwave for two years before quitting on October 15, 2018. By that time, the business had completed 60 million transactions totalling more than $2 billion. 

Flutterwave was already worth over $100 million by the end of 2019.

Aboyeji said he quit the company to devote his time to his family and give back to the startup community he owed so much of his success. 

More on Aboyeji

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is dedicated to the advancement of Africa’s ICT ecosystem. 

He is currently the founder and general partner of Future Africa (also known as the Fund for Africa’s Future), a fund manager that invests early in mission-driven founders solving large-market problems. 

Iyin coaches and trains aspiring techpreneurs in order to help them expand their businesses and take advantage of funding opportunities. He frequently attends classes in Silicon Valley and other parts of the United States.

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is a member of the board of directors of various organisations, including the Share Africa Project in Paris, Rainbow Educational Services Limited, and Filmo Realty. 

Controversies around Iyin 

On April 13, 2022, Nigeria Twitter went bonkers when journalist David Hundeyin published an investigative report accusing Flutterwave co-founder and CEO, Olugbenga’ GB’ Agboola of financial and sexual misconduct.

As the company’s former frontman, Iyin was also indicted for allegedly being part of the insider trading and identity fraud perpetrated in Flutterwave.

According to the damning report, which was backed by documents and recordings, the co-founders built the company on deceit and misled investors.

Although Iyin denied any wrongdoing in the scandal, affirming that he operated by the books throughout his time at Flutterwave and was never involved in shady activities.

Accolades

In 2010, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji was honoured with the John C Holland Award for Youth Leadership in 2010. He was named one of Nigeria’s top 20 under 20 by Ynaija! in 2011.

He was recognised as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum in 2012, and Forbes 30 under 30 named him one of Africa’s “Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs” in 2015.

Aboyeji won a West African Mobile Award in 2017. He was named one of the 50 Most Influential Nigerians by Business Day in 2017.

He was listed as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2017 by New African Magazine. 

In 2018, he was recognised as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 people in the Enterprise Technology section.

In the same year, the World Economic Forum named Aboyeji as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. 

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