Lagos-based Awabah, a digital platform that gives African self-employed people access to pensions, has been accepted into the Techstars London accelerator program. The startup provides micro-pension services to those working in the informal sector and whose employers are not legally required to deduct and remit pension contributions. It will join nine other startups in the class of 2021 and receive funding from the accelerator as it seeks to expand into Africa.
Tunji Andrews, Tina Ajishebiyawo, and Gboyega Olatunde founded the Lagos-based company to build wealth for Africa’s informal, particularly self-employed, population by ensuring that they can plan for a dignified life after retirement.
Awabah launched in November 2020, signed up over 700 clients in its first two months, and has since committed to advancing the cause of future financial inclusion and security in Africa.
The company received $200,000 in angel funding in July 2021 from early-stage investors such as ODBA and Co Ventures and Correlation Capital. This additional funding enabled Awabah to expand its services in Lagos and Ibadan. Over the next six months, the startup intends to expand its services to five more Nigerian cities.
Andrews believes the company is gaining traction as a result of its customer acquisition strategy. They are based in Lagos and Ibadan, and are about to establish a presence in Ghana. Awabah already sees itself as the answer to Africa’s wealth redistribution problem. The company has partnered with three Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) in Nigeria and plans to expand to five by the end of 2021. The collaborations will coincide with multi-city rollouts to provide millions more people with access to the AWABAH advantage.
According to PWC’s “Africa Asset Management 2020” report, total assets under management in 12 selected African countries were $293 billion in 2008, more than doubling to $634 billion by 2014. They are expected to be $1.1 trillion in 2020. (South Africa, Morocco, Mauritius, Namibia; Egypt, Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria; Angola, Algeria, and Tunisia are among the 12 countries.)
Ajishebiyawo is convinced that reducing poverty requires assisting those in the informal sector to manage and grow their wealth. She insists that the reduction is heavily reliant on having access to a variety of tools to help leverage income that is either infrequent or so frequent that it is spent on daily necessities.