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Creating a Unicorn: Flutterwave’s Olugbenga Agboola speaks growth at the 30-day excellence series

Successful FinTech companies enhance financial inclusion, creating solutions for the unbanked, facilitating ease of transactions, logistics and trust. By these markers, Flutterwave is one of the strongest competitors in the African market, helping to grow businesses across the continent, while positioning themselves as the easiest and most reliable payments solutions for businesses anywhere in the world. Having attracted significant investment from some of the most notable investors in Fintech, the company has grown to become one of the fastest growing payments companies in the world, and has processed close to $2 billion in payments and 25 million transactions across over 33 African countries where it currently operates. In March 2021, Flutterwave announced that it had closed a $170 million funding round, valuing the company over $1 billion, and pushing it into unicorn status. These achievements have seen this five-year-old company become more valuable than some financial institutions that have existed for far much longer.

Managing an organisation with ambitions as lofty as Flutterwave is no mean feat, and I sat with Agboola last week to expand on what excellence looks like to them as a company as a part of the ongoing 30-Day Excellence Series run by Beyond Limits. Amongst other things, we discussed vision, growth, and how the organisation works to bring out the best in their team, stakeholders, and processes.

Read Also: Juliet Ehimuan kicks off a 30-Day Excellence Series

One of their benchmarks of excellence is their emphasis on trust and effective communication. They firmly believe that the currency of FinTech is trust capital – creating a product that customers trust, while also fostering a work environment that team members have confidence in.

The second is the ability to define and articulate company goals to employees, and then cascade it down so that every team member can understand it – an essential step for every business, particularly as it starts to employ staff and rely on a team to deliver on its goals. The vision, values and goals must be captured and accessible to every member as a constant reminder of the reason behind every strategic action.

The vision is more than just the written statement, however. Realising it and delivering excellence requires committed effort and personal growth. When asked about remaining positive and working on a business vision in an environment as challenging as Nigeria, Agboola advised people driving towards success to focus on and be empowered by the support that is available; stressing the importance of finding the right partners, creating the right tools, and articulating the solution plainly to stakeholders. In his view, profit might be great, but if the community you want to serve does not see the value in the offering, it may be difficult to move forward. On the other hand, visible value will inevitably be noticed and adopted.

I would add that while the business terrain might be difficult, it is possible for startups to successfully navigate challenges, and flourish here. There are a number of tech hubs offering resources and supportive communities of like-minded people, mentoring and development programs run by various corporate organisations and funding opportunities in existence that startups can take advantage of.

The Flutterwave founder rounded this up by emphasising the importance of humanity in FinTech. Even as the world increasingly leverages technology for ease of transactions, the values and needs of people remain the same. It is essential to understand the local challenges of your environment, and apply creative reasoning in problem solving. He advised agility, quoting one of Powell’s principles in not waiting to have 80% of the information on any topic before acting. Speed, agility and deductive reasoning are all essential elements for success, as are investing in your people, and accepting support from your tribe – be they stakeholders, your team or family members.

The broader context of Excellence applies in business as well as personal effectiveness. Just as organisations have a mission statement fueling it’s activities, so too an individual can be driven by clarity of vision and purpose, and the self-leadership skills required to achieve them. The second half of the webinar covered how individuals can work towards excellence by identifying their passions and skills, coupling them with the challenges they are interested in solving or best placed to solve. Discovering your “why” is a crucial step in walking the path of excellence.

This topic generated a great deal of interest as the exercise into self-awareness is seldom linear. It is possible to possess several, disparate skills, be interested in a variety of fields, and be hampered by limited time and resources to correctly identify one’s central purpose. The strategies laid out during the session – spanning from effective time management, identifying key strengths and areas of opportunity, crafting holistic vision statements – prompted positive feedback and action from the attendees.

The 30-Day Excellence Series is a month-long coaching series designed to provide the practical tips and tools needed to accelerate personal and professional growth. The series will continue throughout the month of July, with course content delivered by Juliet and conversations with special guests including Wealth Management Expert & Author, Omilola Oshikoya, on the 15th, and Ambassador-Designate to Greece, Nimi Akinkugbe, on the 29th.

Free Tickets are available at: blit.ly/excellence30.

Ehimuan is Founder of the Beyond Limits Initiative, and Director, Google West Africa. She focuses on innovation, transformation & leadership

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