Flutterwave Steps Up For SMBs During Pandemic

FinTech startup Flutterwave has been working to make digital payments easier throughout Africa—especially for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Founded in 2017 by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, the San Francisco-based company created an eCommerce platform that enables clients to tap into its application programming interface (API) as well as facilitate cross-border payments for African companies. The platform operates in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, the U.K., and Rwanda.

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Earlier this year, Flutterwave closed a $35 million funding round led by venture capital firm Greycroft & eVentures, with other large backers including CRE Ventures, WorldPay FIS, Visa, and Green Visor.

The company also announced partnerships with WorldPay and Visa as it plans to expand further on the continent, and teamed up with Chinese eCommerce company Alibaba's Alipay to offer digital payments between Africa and China. Flutterwave’s latest funding round brought the startup’s total investment to $55 million, with the company reporting that it’s now worth over $200 million. In addition, it revealed that it has processed 107 million transactions totalling $5.4 billion, up from 14 million transactions in 2017 worth a collective $1.5 billion.

“For us at Flutterwave, we have been focused on enterprise clients and now we are going to deepen that and also show how we can help small businesses scale their business when they use us as their payment partner,” Agboola, the firm’s chief executive, said at the time.

Those comments were proven to be true amidst the disruption to small- and medium-sized businesses due to COVID-19. Data shows that up to 90 percent of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa are SMBs.

Flutterwave responded to the pandemic by designing an eCommerce platform that enables businesses to set up their shops online, with payments and delivery integrated. Since its launch at the end of April, Flutterwave said more than 1,000 businesses in Africa had created accounts on its platform.

Yet, Flutterwave aims to be more than just a payments company. As Agboola pointed out, “people don’t want to just make payments, they want to do something,” such as raising money for charity. The company even built payment integration last year for Cardi B’s performances in Nigeria and Ghana.