How this Nigerian is helping immigrant families in Canada borrow money without interest
Akeem Adebisi is a Nigerian fintech entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of AjoPro. The entrepreneur started the fintech app after noticing how people in Winnipeg, Canada were struggling in the formal banking system.
He encountered situations where people couldn’t raise money to pay off student loans or save to buy a house. Another concern for him was that people were getting payday loans without knowing how the system worked.
In fact, he was a “victim” of the payday loan system. He remembers taking out a payday loan and seeing himself crumble under the increased interest payments. According to him, he got away with finding money elsewhere to repay the loan he took out.
He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that this is a challenge that most people face when they arrive in Canada and that the banking system does not help that. In this regard, he launched AjoPro in 2019 to provide black people or immigrant families with the ability to borrow money without interest and avoid expensive payday loans.
“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.”
He told the CNC that the AjoPro app generated $2 million in transactions in 2021.
“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.”
Adebisi first came to Winnipeg, Canada with his family in 2015. He got his first job at Shell Communications. Among other things, his duty was to take calls. And according to him, he usually spent about eight hours answering phone calls.
“I’ve never in my life had to talk to people for eight hours. You know, it was pretty intense and sometimes people would insult you, people didn’t care where you were from…and for them, your accent is ‘bush’,” he said.
Despite the pressure and sometimes outright racism he faced in his first job, Adesibi saw it as a learning curve. According to him, he initially wanted to work on his accent but decided against it, saying it’s “something he’s proud of”.
Seeing people use his platform to pay their tuition, buy a house or settle in Canada brings Adesibi nothing but joy.