Olugbenga Agboola says the key to Flutterwave’s success is simple

African fintech entrepreneur Olugbenga “GB” Agboola

Innovation isn’t just a buzzword for African fintech entrepreneur Olugbenga “GB” Agboola.

It’s the central component of his philosophy and his company’s guiding principle. 

Olugbenga Agboola is the founder of Flutterwave, a leading payments technology company in Africa valued at over $3bn. And, like all successful tech entrepreneurs, he sees the world differently. 

“The way we look at innovation at Flutterwave is that thing that solves people’s issues and people’s challenges in the best and in the simplest of ways,” he says.

“We are basically going to give you the solutions you need in a way that’s simple to you.”

Flutterwave was a giant leap forward for African finance. Although it began as a way for enterprise companies to move money quickly and easily across national boundaries, it has expanded to become the backbone of the continent’s e-payment services. 

Olugbenga Agboola: ‘We Create and Innovate’

Keeping with Olugbenga Agboola’s values, each new innovation at Flutterwave began as a chance to solve a problem or to make a service faster, better, cheaper, or safer. COVID-19, he says, is an interesting example.

The challenge to innovate, he says, “went two ways. Companies that were, for example, in the payment space, that depended so much on physical exchanges, really had challenges. If your business was dependent on physical foot traffic, for example, you had issues. If you didn’t pay fast enough, you were going to have challenges. But if you had a business with so much e-commerce potential, you could thrive during and just after the COVID-19 lockdown. It wasn’t an easy period for any organization. But what kept us going was one part of our core values, which is we create and innovate.”

Watching clients face multiple obstacles, the Flutterwave team began brainstorming ways to help. 

“We went ahead to create a solution for those who were most affected. We launched this campaign, ‘Keeping the Lights On,’ and that refers to our mindset in tackling that whole new situation that faced us. We used that principle across all our business categories, from small businesses to middle-scale and large businesses. For small businesses, we created solutions for them to get online and sell.”

That led to the birth of Flutterwave’s digital store, which launched at the height of the pandemic. 

All About Flutterwave’s Digital Store

The online shop allowed African merchants to display and sell their goods online for free. Using simple tools, shop owners and business managers who had never had a digital presence before could create a fully functional online shop in minutes. Even local artists could start a store, allowing them access to patrons across the world. 

The project quickly attracted more than 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses and was credited with helping many survive the economic downturn that came on the back of the lockdown. 

But that’s not the only innovation Flutterwave had in its pocket. 

Olugbenga Agboola wanted to ensure that Flutterwave didn’t abandon its earliest clients. But instead of creating a generalized one-size-fits-all tool, the company partnered with bigger corporations to identify problems and create customized solutions. 

“For middle-scale businesses, we had account managers and relationship managers asking them, ‘What can we do for you to develop in this way, to go in this direction that could make you more money, could solve more problems for your customers?’ And that was the same case for enterprise merchants,” he says.

“We built or offered to build work products that are going to be useful to these businesses.”

The pandemic proved to be a test of how much innovation Flutterwave and Olugbenga Agboola still had in them. As it turned out, the philosophy of solving problems served the firm well.

“And at the end of the day, post-COVID was some of our best financial years,” he says.

“It was some of our best years in respect to transaction value and transaction volume. And after COVID, everything was normalized. So the gains from e-commerce are there, the gains from the other folks who rely on physical cash transactions have started and restarted and the market has a bit normalized.”

None of this would be possible without a high-level commitment to innovation. The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges that required new and forward-looking solutions, Olugbenga Agboola says. And fortunately, the Flutterwave team was prepared to innovate. 

“I would say we combined two of our core values to make it happen, which is we are customer-focused and then we innovate,” he says. “We brought these things together, and we decided to make magic for people.”

  • In Partnership with Flutterwave



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