• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Yele Oyekola: Entrepreneur addressing payments challenges for businesses

Yele Oyekola: Entrepreneur addressing payments challenges for businesses

Yele Oyekola is the co-founder of Duplo, a B2B payment platform that makes it easier for entrepreneurs to pay each other.

Oyekola and his co-founder Tunde Akinnuwa were inspired to establish Duplo by their desire to address payment challenges for entrepreneurs by providing a platform that automatically creates and processes invoices, receives and approves bills, collects and sends payments, and does financial reconciliation.

He noted that kick-starting Duplo was also inspired by the several opportunities he identified in financial inclusion while working as a staff member at the UN African headquarters in Kenya.

Since starting the business in 2021, it has grown steadily and developed a range of products. In September 2022, the business raised $4.3 million in seed funding to launch new products and expand into new business verticals.

Oyekola noted that FMCGs are Duplo’s target market because a bulk of the players are used to traditional ways of making and balancing payments.

“We started with the fast-moving consumer goods industry (FMCG), where our focus was on distributors within that space as they have more access to the entire ecosystem,” he said.

“They pay directly to the manufacturers and the suppliers and then collect payments from the smaller retailers. If you can get one distributor, you can get like a massive chunk of the entire market,” he stated.

He explained the features payment solutions Duplo offers, saying that the year-old platform can automate how a business receives income and also reconcile every entry made on the platform with Quickbooks and Microsoft Dynamics, the most popular software for automation in Nigeria.

“Beyond just facilitating payments for these businesses, we also automate how they strike and reconcile their payment flows, saving them valuable time and costs,” he said.

“For example, our integration with Dynamics and QuickBooks is one of the first, and in Nigeria, no one is currently doing that,” he added.

Responding to a question on the major hurdle the business faced, he said, “what we have realised is that it could take a while for them to get comfortable with going digital, and of course, user education and awareness can take a while, and that was a big challenge we faced in the early days.”

“The way we were trying to solve the issue is by showing the businesses how it can positively impacts their operations.”

Read also: Dividend payments to shareholders hit N1.1trn in 2022

Responding to a question on the business plans, he said Duplo plans to build a business that will outlive its founders in the long run. On the short-run plan, he said Duplo plans to expand its operations across Africa.

“We are heavily focused on improving products and scaling the product’s features, and in the next few months.”

“We’re looking to expand beyond Nigeria; we’re looking at places like Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal, and the reason is that those places have a very similar context to Nigeria.”

Also, he said the business intends to build a pan-African network of businesses that can transact with each other using its platform.

“A business in Cape Town will be able to make instant payments to a business in Lagos and have this payment automatically reconciled in real-time with no issue,” he explained.

“If we can solve business payment issues across Africa or Nigeria in particular, these help businesses save time, help businesses make more contribution to society and the economy’s GDP as well, and then indirectly, we are also improving the continent at large,” he added.