Five strategies on how to raise capital like Flutterwave, Africa’s foremost tech unicorn

BY Preta Peace Namasaba June 21, 2024 2:33 PM EDT
Olugbenga Agboola, co-founder and CEO Flutterwave. Photo credit: Olugbenga Agboola

Flutterwave is a fintech company that provides payment solutions for merchants, banks, and consumers across Africa. It was founded by Nigerian duo Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Olugbenga Agboola in 2016. The company raised $170 million in a Series C funding round in 2022, the largest amount ever secured by an African tech startup at the time. Flutterwave is currently valued at over $3 billion and belongs to the rare class of Black-owned unicorns.

These strategies from Flutterwave will help you raise capital for your startup.

1. Choose a prime location
Flutterwave is headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company’s proximity to Silicon Valley has placed the company to receive funding from American venture capital firms. Its groundbreaking Series C round was led by New York-based private investment firm Avenir Growth Capital and US hedge fund and investment firm Tiger Global. In addition, Flutterwave has a headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria Africa’s commercial hub. It also has operations in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and other African countries. The fintech has plans to extend its presence to Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and the Middle East, a strategy that could potentially boost its funding.

“We’re becoming what we wanted to be: the infrastructure for any kind of payments. There’s no sector you look at today in Africa that you wouldn’t see Flutterwave taking a piece of that and enabling merchants and consumers to grow and scale,” said Agboola.

2. Build a strong network
The company’s founders joined the FIS FinTech Accelerator program and graduated from it in 2016. They received a $50,000 check and gained broader access to the global payment system. Flutterwave signed a commercial agreement with FIS which allows the technology provider to offer its services as part of Worldpay from FIS payment solutions to its merchant clients in Africa. The team was also selected to participate in Google for Startups Accelerator which presented them with opportunities to grow and scale the business. They received training, mentorship, and access to new resources from the program.

3. Foster partnerships
Flutterwave works with companies such as Uber, and Alibaba’s Alipay to facilitate cross-border transactions in multiple currencies. The company has partnered with Visa to scale its consumer payments service, Barter for efficient service delivery to about 85,000 businesses. Flutterwave has also partnered with telecommunication companies such as PayPal, MTN, and Airtel Africa which bring in more customers. Not only have partnerships grown the business, but they have also brought in more funders.

4. Quality execution
Execution of projects has been key to Flutterwave’s success success in raising capital. The company onboarded Uber as a client early on and was able to expand with it across the continent. It has since processed over 200 million transactions worth over $16 billion. The fintech operates across 34 countries in Africa and serves over 900,000 businesses worldwide. It has acquired Disha, a fast-growth platform for creators and has expanded to an online marketplace and also lends to small businesses. Investors can connect with the company’s work and story.

5. Focus on the vision
Flutterwave set out to create payment solutions for all African countries. The founders continued raising capital even after it assumed unicorn status. The company viewed becoming a unicorn as an opportunity to achieve its objectives. It stuck to its vision of serving all of Africa and set out to expand into North Africa. Flutterwave built on its $170 million Series C funding round with a $250 million Series D funding round. Valued at over $3 billion, the fintech is currently the highest-valued African startup and is focused on its vision of servicing the entire content.