Nigerian entrepreneur ‘changing lives’ with personal finance app for racialized communities
CBC highlights stories of Black Canadian immigrants to share the joys and obstacles on their path to Black excellence. From their first steps in Canada to the moments that marked their lives. These are their trips here.
When Nigerian-born Akeem Adebisi moved to Winnipeg with his family in 2015, he noticed the local racialized community struggling to navigate the banking system and make ends meet.
“You know, a lot of people are struggling in our community,” he said. “I mean, the black community here in Manitoba, doing three jobs, doing four jobs, you know, just to make ends meet.”
Adebisi knew many people who received money through payday loans without realizing how the system worked.
“That’s the challenge most people face when they come to Canada…if the banking system doesn’t help you.”
Adebisi, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs, decided to find a solution – while navigating his new job in telecommunications, where he said he frequently encountered racism from customers.
In 2019, he created AjoPro, an app that helps people save for goals. These can include anything from paying off student debt to saving for a down payment to buy a house.
AjoPro is billed as a “social money” app that allows users to borrow money from their community without interest or credit checks, and avoid expensive payday loans.
According to AjoPro’s App Store page, the concept is based on a centuries-old self-financing system popularly known as the Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCA).
Adebisi says the app, which generated $2 million in transactions last year, has had a positive impact on the people who use it.
“If you look at the response people have given us on our Google, our Google Play or our Android Apple Store, you’ll see immense joy,” he said.
“It’s a feeling that, you know, you can’t really describe: the fact that you make people happy, you change lives, you make people feel like they belong.”
Being Black in Canada: My Journey This is a special series where Black Canadian immigrants share the joys and obstacles on their path to Black excellence. From their first steps in Canada to the moments that marked their lives.