Okra, Africa’s API fintech “super-connector” raises $1m from TLcom Capital


Okra, Africa’s first API fintech “super-connector” has raised $1m from TLcom Capital in pre-seed fundraise to build the infrastructure for Africa’s next wave of fintech innovation.

Okra says it will use the funds to scale its team and operations as it caters to its growing client base for its API for real-time financial data from a bank account to any web or mobile app.

In a statement, 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.”

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. There are approximately 125mn banks accounts in Nigeria alone and the firm sees huge opportunities for growth. It, therefore, aims to deliver ease, speed and transparency to key players within the fintech space.

Okra already connects to all of Nigeria’s commercial banks as well as the likes of Branch, AIICO Insurance PLC, Travelstart, Bamboo, Renmoney and Swipe (YC) amongst others.

Okra marks the latest company to take advantage of Open Banking initiatives across the globe, which has attracted increasing attention from investors. In the USA, Plaid, which allows users to connect their bank accounts to an app, has been acquired by Visa for $5.3bn since launching in 2013. Yodlee, an American company offering a similar service, secured more than $140mn of funding before being acquired by Envestnet in 2015.

“When we started Okra last year, our priority was to help African fintechs and banks build the best in class technology and solve problems for their customers,” said Okra’s Co-Founder and COO, David Peterside, “This investment marks the next chapter of this mission.”

The $1mn investment in Okra marks TLcom’s first investment in the fintech sector and as part of the deal, Andreata Muforo, Partner at TLcom, will join Okra’s board. Ido Sum, also a Partner at the VC firm, will join as a board observer.

Recently, TLcom secured an additional $31M for its TIDE Africa Fund bringing its Sub Saharan Africa (SSA)-focused fund to $71milion. TIDE Africa is one of the active funds operating in Sub Saharan Africa since its first close in 2017, it has six companies in its portfolio including Andela, Kobo360,  Twiga Foods, Ajua, Terragon Group and uLesson.

“Fara’s background was vital here — she’s an expert in over 20 programming languages, worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies and is a great example of why we’re committed to investing in more female founders. She leads by example and we have seen her and David build a really exciting business, in a little under a year, we’re excited to help them grow further,” concluded Muforo.