The African tech ecosystem is slowly maturing. Older startups are investing in new ones, and employees at these older startups are leaving to start their startups. Last year, TechCabal covered the former employees of Paystack (Paystack Mafia) who left the payments fintech to start their businesses. This year, we discovered that several alumni of OPay (OPay Mafia), the Chinese-backed fintech, have also gone on to start companies that are currently building tech-enabled solutions for Africa.
Some of these companies have either raised funding or have been accepted into global accelerators like Techstars, validating the problems they are trying to solve. OPay landed in Nigeria in August 2018 after paying an undisclosed fee to acquire a controlling stake in PayCom, a fintech company founded by Telnet Nigeria. In less than five years, OPay has established itself as a dominant player in the Nigerian fintech space and has produced several founders and CEOs.
Just like we called the ex-employees of Paystack the “Paystack Mafia”, we chose to call the ex-employees of OPay the “OPay Mafia”.
Role in OPay: Senior Marketing Manager (2 years)
After OPay: Co-founder and COO of BFREE
Chukwudi Enyi is currently the chief operating officer and co-founder of BFREE Africa, Africa’s first digital credit collection company. After working at OPay, Enyi moved to FairMoney, a lending company. Noticing how lending companies struggle with non-performing loans, he and his fellow co-founders decided to start BFREE.
According to BFREE’s website, the startup uses ethical means to quickly recover debts. The startup operates in Nigeria and Kenya and lists FairMoney, Kuda, GTBank etc as its customers. BFREE has raised $2.5 million in total funding and, according to its LinkedIn page, has over 200 employees.
Role in OPay: Senior Sales and Business Development Manager ( 1 year and 7 months)
After OPay: Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of BFREE
Moses Nmor joined OPay in June 2018 as a sales and business development manager; he would later go on to be promoted to a senior role. Just like Enyi, his fellow co-founder at BFREE, Nmor would later join FairMoney, albeit as head of direct sales.
Nmor told TechCabal that he learnt how to experiment with ideas at OPay. “OPay was very big on “If it isn’t working, just drop it; there are many other ideas”. This has allowed me to test ideas quite quickly at BFREE and has given me no sentimental attachment if they don’t work, so I can drop them quickly and move on to the next idea.”
He also said that “OPay was very big on grooming people and creating an environment for employees to learn and grow. This has made me develop a platform at BFREE that will allow operational employees to move from call centre agents to software developers, product managers, and product designers.”
Role in OPay: Director of Finance ( 2 years)
After Opay: Co-founder and COO of Lemonade Finance
Rian Cochran has an extensive career in the financial space, building fintech products in the global south (Cashbean in Asia, OPay and OKash in Africa). He was previously the Director of Finance at OPay and is currently the co-founder of Lemonade Finance. Cochran also worked for the software company Opera for 11 years.
Lemonade Finance is a cross-border remittance company that allows Africans to send and receive money from all over the world. The startup raised $725,000 in pre-seed funding in 2021.
Role in OPay: Director ( 2 years and 2 months)
After OPay: Co-founder and CEO of Lemonade Finance
Olalere has 14 years of experience in technology ranging from being a tutor at the Shenyang University to being the Nigerian Country manager for Uber before founding Lemonade Finance with Cochran. He occupied several positions in OPay as director of payments to senior director of operations. He was also the fourth senior engineer hired during Flutterwave’s very early 2016 days.
According to Olalere, Lemonade helps African migrants move their money from Africa to other countries easily. “You have a Piggyvest or Risevest account and want to withdraw the money to use it in Europe. What do you do?” Launched in 2020, Lemonade allows users to transfer money in minutes.
Role in OPay: Manager, Growth and Marketing for ORide ( 1 year)
After OPay: Co-founder and CEO of Glover
Damilola Layode is the co-founder and CEO of Glover, a gift card company with a physical presence in Ghana and Nigeria. Layode has extensive experience in the media industry, starting as a writer in 2013 ( he even had a brief stint at TechCabal’s parent company) before several career moves landed him at OPay.
After OPay, he worked at Patricia before co-founding Glover with Patricia’s CEO, Hanu Fejiro Agbodje. Glover recently graduated from Techstars Toronto’s latest cohort, validating the business model of selling gift cards in Africa. Layode told TechCabal that the accelerator helped his company identify a plan for the current economic climate.
Role in OPay: Director of Partnerships ( 1 year and 8 months)
After OPay: Co-founder and CEO of Fez Delivery
Seun Alley is a seasoned professional with over a decade of experience in Nigeria’s banking sector, mostly in operational roles at First Bank and Opay. She co-founded Fez, a Nigerian logistics company that offers last-mile delivery. Individuals and businesses can pay a stipulated monthly fee to have access to Fez’s last-mile delivery option and end-to-end support; and they can track their orders at all times. Fez is also a graduate of the Techstars Toronto 22 cohort with Glover and Raenest.
Alley told TechCabal that “OPay taught me how to fail fast and fail forward and that the ability to scale a business is everything. If it works, improve it and expand it. If it doesn’t, dump it and focus more on what works.”
Role in OPay: Team Lead, Digital Marketing ( 1 year and 1 month)
After OPay: Co-founder and COO of Raenest
Richard Oyome’s career is probably the most interconnected with other members of the OPay mafia. He worked with Enyi and Nmor at FairMoney (the co-founders of BFREE) and worked at Lemonade Finance (co-founded by Olalere and Cochran). Just like Layode and Alley, his company was also part of the Techstars Toronto 2022 cohort. Oyome’s career has been built on years of marketing tech products.
Raenest is a Nigerian platform that allows freelancers to automate invoices and get paid by global clients. Businesses can also use the platform to onboard African talents, pay them in their preferred currencies, and manage team expenses. The startup raised an undisclosed pre-seed round in May 2022 that saw participation from Seedstars, Ajim Capital, HoaQ, Ventures Platform, Voltron Capital, and angel investors.
Role in OPay: Software Engineer
After OPay: Co-founder of Collect Africa
Wale Martins is a software engineer with 8 years of experience. He co-founded Collect Africa in 2021. Collect Africa is a payment platform that brings all the available payment methods into one dashboard, enabling business owners to receive payments across all sales channels, monitor their businesses, and manage them. According to Crunchbase, Collect Africa has raised $20,000 in funding.
Role in OPay: Director of Operations (9 months)
After OPay: Co-founder and CEO of Alladin
Darlington Onyeagoro has 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, ranging from GTBank, Diamond Bank, OKash, and OPay. He co-founded Aladdin after leaving OKash in 2020. Aladdin claims to be an “ecosystem digital bank”. The bank provides small businesses with quick access to loans, high-interest savings, and investments. It also has a robust marketplace of over 40,000 sellers and buyers and a social feed to foster interaction among all customers in one digital app. Aladdin has raised $4.4 million in total funding.