Accenture Plc has made an investment, through Accenture Ventures, in Nigeria-based fintech company Okra, an open finance data infrastructure startup serving the rapidly expanding African financial services market.
Founded in 2019 and based in Lagos, Nigeria, Okra is an open finance platform that enables developers and businesses to build personalized digital services and fintech products for customers.
The company billed as Africa’s first API super-connector raised $1 million funding from TLcom Capital last year and now has banked a $3.5 million seed round led by the US-based Susa Ventures.
“Okra is a rising fintech star in the high-growth global digital financial services arena, and in the African market, which is home to the world’s largest unbanked population, including a sizable number of underbanked consumers and small-to-medium sized enterprises,” said Tom Lounibos, managing director, Accenture Ventures.
“We believe that Okra has the potential to address critical challenges in Africa and we’re excited to work closely with the team to help scale its solutions for maximum impact,” Lounibos said.
According to a previously released Accenture study, by 2025, fintech startups could capture as much as $78 billion, or 3.9 percent of the projected $2 trillion total global banking payments market.
The investment in Okra was made through Accenture Ventures’ Project Spotlight — Accenture Ventures’ immersive engagement and investment program aimed at connecting emerging technology startups with the Global 2000 to fill strategic innovation gaps — Okra will also have access to Accenture’s global innovation network, and the opportunity to co-innovate with Accenture software engineers, system architects and payments experts.
“By enabling individuals and corporations in Nigeria to connect their bank accounts directly to third-party applications, Okra is powering the much-needed connectivity layer between financial institutions, fintech companies and consumers,” said Fara Ashiru Jituboh, co-founder, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Okra.
“Gaining access to Accenture’s global banking experts, clients and technology ecosystem partners through Project Spotlight will contribute greatly to the success and growth of our business moving forward,” Jituboh said.
Born in Nigeria and a software engineer by the age of 11, Jituboh grew up in the U.S. and went on to study computer science and software engineering at North Carolina A&T State University (an HBCU), and then held positions at JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments as well as a few start-ups before co-founding Okra with David Peterside, the company’s chief operating officer.
Following its launch, the startup attracted significant early attention, securing $1 million in pre-seed funding from TLcom Capital.
“Our investment in Okra is Accenture Ventures’ first investment in Africa – an emerging market with tremendous long-term growth potential,” said Vukani Mngxati, chief executive, Accenture Africa.
“Across Africa, technology startups are emerging, bringing new thinking and new solutions to help address endemic challenges—from financial inclusion to market access—and stimulating economic growth. Bringing Okra together with our enterprise clients and ecosystem partners will increase the reach and impact of innovation and help African economies accelerate progress and value for all,” Mngxati said.
Accenture’s held $9.2 billion in cash and equivalents as of Feb. 28, 2021.