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Profiles

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is redefining the future of startup investments

After founding several start-ups, Aboyeji now manages Future Africa as General Partner of the company.

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It is no longer news that young people especially under 30 entrepreneurs are tackling the world’s biggest challenges with innovative creations. They create companies and organizations aimed at solving the problems confronting society today.

Among them is Iyinoluwa Aboyeji who is a young Nigerian entrepreneur and co-founder of Andela, an engineering and service business that helps companies to build remote teams quickly at a cost-effective rate.

Aboyeji is also the founder and former managing director of Flutterwave, a technology that uses digital payments infrastructure that assists banks and businesses to build seamless and secure payments for their customers.

READ: Andela launches Pan-African technology hub in Kigali for software developers across the continent

In March 2019, he founded Future Africa, an innovation fund that provides capital and coaching to innovators.

As a young boy, he was involved in lots of innovative creations and as such co-founded quite a number of companies. Among them was the Bookneto Inc. alongside Pierrie Alrs, a social learning platform for sharing and organizing learning resources within learning communities. It allowed users to manage course interactions and the ability to see questions, insights, and discussions on course material from students taking related courses at other schools.

In 2014, he met with Jeremy Johnson, a technology entrepreneur and enthusiast who shared the same passion and drive as him. They both started Andela, a company that invests in African software engineers to help companies solve the technical talent shortage and build high-performing distributed engineering teams.

READ: Iyinoluwa Aboyeji steps down as Flutterwave CEO

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The rise of Andela attracted investments from both local and international investors. Aboyeji worked with Andela for two years after which he resigned and moved on to his next venture. Before he resigned, the company raised $24 million Series B funding from investors including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and former US Vice President, Al Gore.

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In 2016, Flutterwave was launched. Flutterwave is a platform that partners with businesses to process payments globally. It allows for payments to be made and accepted anywhere around the world on its integrated platform.

Aboyeji was the CEO of Flutterwave for two years before resigning in October 2018. Under his leadership as CEO, Flutterwave had become one of the fastest-growing payments technology business of all-time, attracting significant investments from Y Combinator, Greycroft, Greenvisor Capital, and Mastercard.

READ: Meet Omowale David-Ashiru, the first female Andela Nigeria Country Director

Flutterwave is currently valued at $150 million, and it is also Y Combinator’s most valuable startup in Africa.

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He moved further to work as the Deputy Director-General on Oby Ezekwesili’s presidential campaign from 2018 to February 2019.

In March 2019, Aboyeji founded Future Africa and became a General Partner of the company. Future Africa is a platform for providing capital, coaching, and community to innovators and entrepreneurs looking to solve problems throughout the continent.

Some of the start-ups in their portfolio include; Lori Systems, Andela, Flutterwave, Eden, MAX, and Kobo360.

Janet John is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Uyo. She specializes in technical writing where she creates easy to read documentation, articles to clearly and efficiently explain highly complex processes. When she is not writing, she works as a freelance front-end developer

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Meet Adebayo Ogunlesi, Nigeria’s investment banker shaking up Wall Street

Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a “billionaire” in his own right.

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Some refer to him as a “silent billionaire”, and this is not a wrong statement about the man who has stakes in a number of airports around the world, including Gatwick Airport, the second-busiest airport by total passenger traffic in the UK and the ninth-busiest in Europe.

Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian who started out as a lawyer and later an investment banker, has spread his wings around the globe and is now currently the Chairman and Managing Partner at the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a billionaire in his own right.

Early years

Adebayo hails from Makun, Sagamu, Ogun State, and was born on the 20th of December 1953 to the family of Dr Theophilus O. Ogunlesi, who later became Nigeria’s first Professor of Medicine in Ibadan.

He had his primary education there in Sagamu and then attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos before travelling to England where he bagged a B.A. with first-class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.

He went on to pursue two degrees concurrently at Harvard, and in 1979, received a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

He worked as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court from 1980 to 1981, and as an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore – a law firm in New York City till 1983.

Armed with his MBA, Adebayo made the switch to investment banking when he joined First Boston Investment Bank as an advisor on a Nigerian gas project in 1983. He also worked with the Project Finance Group, as a financial advisor to several clients on the transactions of North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Other places Adebayo worked include the Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) (earlier known as Global Energy Group) where he advised clients on strategic transactions and financing for some years, before becoming the Global Head of CSFB’s Investment Banking Division. He was appointed member of the Credit Suisse Executive Board and Management Committee in 2002, and became the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of CSFB between 2004 and 2006.

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While at the CSFB, he was also lecturing at Harvard Law School and Yale School of Management.

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He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs in October 2012 and became Lead Director on the 24th of July, 2014.

Ogunlesi, the investor

In July 2006, he founded a private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in New York City, with CSFB and General Electric as the first investors; and assumed the role of Chairman and Managing Partner. In the same year, GIP bought London City Airport an international airport located in the Royal Docks in the London Borough of Newham in the City of London. GIP later sold off the airport after a decade.

Three years later in 2009, GIP invested £1.455 billion to acquire the majority share in London Gatwick Airport, a major international airport near Crawley, Sussex, England. Another three years after in 2012, GIP bought Edinburgh Airport, said to be the busiest airport in Scotland in 2019, handling over 14.7 million passengers.

GIP also bought Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori in February 2018.

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Some other GIP Investments In the Transport Sector include Terminal Investment Limited, Port of Melbourne; Pacific National; Italo; Access Midstream Partners; Biffa Group Limited; Port of Brisbane; Great Yarmouth Port Company.

GIP also had stakes in infrastructure assets around the world, with selected equity and debt investments in several sectors. The company manages a portfolio of combined annual revenue greater than $46 billion, and investments of over $51 billion for its investors.

The company is an infrastructure investment fund that makes both equity and selected debt investments. It has investments in high-quality infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, water and waste sectors.

In the energy sector, Gip has investments in Guacolda Energia, Freeport LNG, CPV, Saeta Yield/Bow Power, Hess Infrastructure Partners, Vena Energy, Naturgy Energy Group and several others.

Other interests

Ogunlesi is now a Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors at the Harvard Business School; Member, Leadership Council of New York at Harvard Law School; and Member, Global Advisory Council at Harvard University.

He is also a Member, Board of Directors of the Partnership for New York City Fund; National Board of Directors NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Board of Trustees NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; and the King’s College Old Boys Association.

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He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He taught a course on transnational investment projects in emerging countries, as a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School of Management, while also working at Credit Suisse First Boston.

In October 2012, Ogunlesi was appointed to the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs and became Lead Director in 2014. There is no confirmed source of his net worth, but Wallmine estimates that Ogunlesi is worth at least $22.5 million dollars and owns at least 66,677 units of Goldman Sachs stock as of 7 May 2020.

In December 2016, Ogunlesi was named among business leaders that would be part of Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the forum was disbanded 8 months later.

Ogunlesi was given The Award of Excellence by The International Center in New York, and in 2019 was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine. He is still actively engaged in several volunteer works across Africa.

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Atsu Davoh is building ways for Africans to easily acquire and spend cryptocurrency

Atsu Davoh has gone from failed projects to running one of Ghana’s most innovative startups.

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In recent times, the tech space in Africa has experienced immense growth, with the introduction of several key players and disruptors across various sectors. One sector that is also rising is the cryptocurrency space with Africa experiencing greater crypto ownership and trade volume.

The number of Bitcoins processed on a single day reached its highest value at the beginning of 2021, as more people displayed interest in the cryptocurrency. Due to its fast adoption, more fintech players have created platforms that have made trading with cryptocurrency easier. One of such players is Atsu Davoh who calls himself the “product guy.”

Atsu Davoh dropped out of college (Carleton College) in the United States and moved back to Ghana to help innovate on Africa’s financial infrastructure. Atsu first discovered Bitcoin in 2017 during the first boom when it became mainstream. Before then, he and his co-founder Samuel Baohen had been involved in many failed projects.

He developed a USSD system where people could buy bitcoin through their phone numbers, like tying crypto to phone numbers in a native way. This was one of the first iterations of Bitsika.

Atsu was invited to Join Binance Labs Incubator by Yele Bademosi where he got $150,000 after graduating from the incubator. Bitsika went on to raise around $900,000 from investors. This brought the total seed raised to $1,050,000.

This USSD system worked in Ghana but didn’t work in Nigeria. Atsu and his team then pivoted the platform to a donation crowdfunding platform, which allowed people living in other countries to send donations to African nationals in need of the funds before finally building it into a cross-border crypto remittance platform.

Bitsika users can deposit and remit money across multiple currencies using the app, with all monies deposited in Bitsika stored in USD credits or stable-coin.

Bitsika has over 50,000+ downloads on Playstore and processed nearly $40 million in 2020 with $18,872,474 in deposits, $17,890,807 in payouts (withdrawals), and $3,189,834 in internal peer-to-peer transfers.

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Despite a few unfavourable regulations surrounding cryptocurrency in Africa, the market has shown no signs of slowing down as more people are building products that will make trading seamless.

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