Fara Ashiru Jituboh is a Nigerian tech whiz with over 20 programming languages under her belt. Her brainchild, Okra, is a Nigeria-based fintech platform enabling secure, real-time financial information exchange between customers, applications, and banks.
In other words, this platform helps connect customer accounts to banking apps and get real-time financial information. In return, the company makes money from the product fees it earns when customers connect their bank accounts to third-party applications using the platform.
In 2019, Jituboh visited the United States to have a baby, and it was during that period she found the idea for Okra. She stayed in the United States for almost a year and used apps like Mint to manage funds directly from her mobile phone.
When she returned to Nigeria, she noticed that the app wasn’t working because it wasn’t connected to a Nigerian bank. Seeing the market gap, I decided to create a similar app. She developed okra to connect to her own bank account.
Jituboh founded the startup with David Peterside in 2020. Okra is actively moving forward by partnering with all Nigerian banks, even claiming a guarantee of 99.9% uptime. The business model provides developers and businesses with integrations into existing banking services and deducts fees from subsequent transactions. These integrations include account authorization, balances, identities, income, payments, and transactions. Top companies such as Access Bank, Aella, Interswitch and uLesson are among its over 100 partners.
Okra was oversubscribed within six months of its launch, and even a pandemic couldn’t delay the startup. As a testament to her company’s growing success, Jituboh raised a $1 million seed round.
One of the top investors in the preliminary round was TLcom. For the investor, Okra was an outlier in the portfolio, and investing in Okra was the first investment in FinTech. The company has invested in Okra’s infrastructure, and TLcom has extensive experience investing in Africa, so it also brings out the expertise that Okra needs. In April of 2021, Okra announced that it had deposited a $ 3.5 million seed round with a bank, led by US-based Susa Ventures, bringing its funding to $4.5M in total.
“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 on the back of the raise.
“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,” she added.
The Nigerian-born Jituboh, grew up in the United States. She spent her teenage years in Nigeria before returning to the United States and permanently relocating to 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 develop technologies for other companies such as AXA Mansard, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals and Airtel.