Nigerian fintech platform Okra has secured a $1mn pre-seed fundraise from TLcom Capital, strengthening its push to build the infrastructure for Africa’s next wave of fintech innovation.

With the first API in Africa to retrieve real-time financial data from a bank account to any web or mobile app, Okra’s new investment will be used to scale their team and operations as they cater to their growing client base. 

Launched in January 2020, Okra’s “super-connector” creates a secure portal and process to exchange real-time financial information between customers, applications and banks. Currently, developers and organisations in Africa do not have access to real-time banking data, creating large hurdles during the onboarding and verification of customers. Okra is the first in Africa to bridge this gap, delivering a new layer of transparency between organisations and users in the lending, personal & corporate finance and real estate sectors. 

Supported by the strong engineering background of their founding team,Fara Ashiru Jituboh (formerly of Fidelity Investments and Canva) and David Peterside (from UCML Capital and Fashion Map), the company’s technical expertise has already seen them connect with all of Nigeria’s commercial banks as well as the likes of BranchAIICO Insurance PLCTravelstartBambooRenmoney and Swipe (YC) amongst others. With the capacity to onboard new clients in under 24 hours, the startup has seen a 175% rise in demand since March 2020 as more companies digitise their services due to COVID-19 and is seeking to expand across Africa. 

Speaking on the new investment, Fara Ashiru Jituboh, Okra’s CEO/CTO stated: “Our thesis is simple — financial innovation cannot exist without the proper infrastructure, which is data. Essentially, how far the African fintech sector can grow is intrinsically tied to the success of an infrastructure like Okra and with our core market in Nigeria, we’re opening the door to another level of innovation in Africa’s largest market.” 

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