Nigerian Fintech Firm Is Most Valuable Y Combinator-Backed African Tech Startup

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Y Combinator
Olugbenga Agboola is the co-founder and CEO of Nigerian fintech firm Flutterwave which was selected by Y Combinator as one of the accelerator’s 102 most valuable companies for 2019. Image supplied by Y Combinator

Nigerian fintech firm Flutterwave has been named by Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator as the most valuable African company that it has invested in. 

In October, Y Combinator released a list of the top 102 most valuable companies that have graduated from the accelerator. It is the second year that YC has published the list but the first time an African startup was featured.

With an estimated valuation of more than $150 million, Flutterwave was the only African tech firm on the list and ranked 97th place out of 102 startups.

Y Combinator did not share a specific valuation for Flutterware but all the companies on its list are valued at $150 million or more.

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Flutterwave participated in the Y Combinator program in 2017, benefiting from one of the world’s most powerful startup accelerator programs.

After that, the fintech firm raised $20.4 million in investment including a $120,000 round from YC for a 7 percent stake, according to Crunchbase.

Based in Silicon Valley, Y Combinator has invested $120,000 twice every year from 2014 to 2017 in tech startups that graduated from its program in exchange for a 7 percent stake. In 2018, YC began to invest $150,000 for that same stake.

Founded in Lagos in 2014, Flutterwave is a fintech firm that provides transaction infrastructure for mobile payments. 

The company runs its operations center in Nigeria but moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley in 2018 to be closer to potential partnerships with investors and business leaders in the Bay Area.

Flutterwave was founded in 2016 by Nigerian entrepreneurs Olugbenga Agboola and Iyin Aboyeji.

Agboola is now CEO of the company. He worked as a software engineer at PayPal and Standard Bank before launching Flutterwave alongside Aboyeji, a co-founder of Andela.

Andela is a Nigerian startup based in New York that trains and outsources African engineers and coders to work for global firms.

Flutterwave claims to have processed more than $2.5 billion in payments for clients including Uber, Facebook, and Transferwise, according to ITWebAfrica.

Y Combinator has helped accelerate 28 African tech startups including PayStackKobo360, ReleafCowryRise, TizetiFlutterwave and Helium Health from Nigeria, as well as OMG Digital from Ghana and Morocco’s WaystoCap.