Techstars London Accelerator Program accepts AWABAH digital retirement platform

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Saturday, August 21, 2021/10 p.m. / AWABAH / Header Image Credit: Techstars London accelerator

Awabah, a digital platform that provides African self-employed people with access to pensions, has announced its inclusion in Techstars London’s accelerator program. The startup provides micro-pension services for people in the informal sector and for those whose employers are not legally obliged to withdraw and transfer a pension. It will join nine other startups in the 2021 class and secure funding from the Accelerator when it has its sights on African expansion.

The Lagos-based company founded by Tunji Andrews, Tina Ajishebiyawo and Gboyega Olatunde builds wealth for the informal, especially self-employed, population of Africa by ensuring that they can plan a decent life after retirement.

Founded in November 2020, Awabah gained over 700 customers in the first two months and has since committed to advancing the cause of future financial inclusion and security in Africa.

The company’s motto is “Those who know better can do better”. This means that building financial literacy is a big part of the customer acquisition strategy. It relied heavily on digital townhall meetings to meet, train and attract customers.

In July 2021, the company raised $ 200,000 in angel support from early-stage investors such as ODBA and Co Ventures and Correlation Capital. This new funding helped Awabah launch its services in Lagos and Ibadan. The startup plans to offer services in 5 additional Nigerian cities over the next 6 months.

Andrews believes the company is gaining a lot of acceptance because of its approach to customer acquisition. They operate out of Lagos and Ibadan and are in the process of establishing a presence in Ghana. Awabah already sees itself as the solution to Africa’s wealth redistribution challenges. The company has teamed up with 3 Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) in Nigeria and hopes to increase these to 5 by the end of 2021. The partnerships will coincide with the launch in multiple cities to give millions more access to the AWABAH benefit.

“To put it simply, Awabah is an aggregate of tools for wealth creation that is sorely lacking on the continent. We bind the financial service providers on board, break their products into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle a bit of the Awabah magic on them and give this leverage for our customers. What’s even bigger is that our services are completely free to the customer. Financial services should liberate, not enslave, “said Tunji Andrews.

On the back, the Awabah model has many advantages. Nigeria has 70 million people in its workforce (people who are ready and able to work). Of these 70 million, 23 million are unemployed and a further 11 million are employed in formal occupations; This leaves 36 million Nigerians in some form of self-employment or entrepreneurship without a pension. Given the sharp decline in economic growth and the increasing scarcity of resources, we believe that Africa’s current job market will be extremely tough in old age if they don’t take retirement provision seriously.

Nigerians in the informal sector can see real value by paying N100 weekly into a pension fund that brings in real returns of 4.5% per year for the rest of their working lives.

According to the Africa Asset Management 2020 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), total assets under management in 12 selected African countries were US $ 293 billion in 2008, which has more than doubled to US $ 634 billion by 2014. For 2020 US $ 1.1 trillion is expected 12 countries are: South Africa, Morocco, Mauritius, Namibia; Egypt, Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria; Angola, Algeria, Tunisia).

Ajishebiyawo firmly believes that reducing poverty depends on helping people in the informal sector manage and increase their wealth. She insists that the reduction depends heavily on having access to various tools to generate income that is either infrequent or so frequently spent on everyday consumables.

“It’s not that people in informal jobs are too illiterate to control their finances; on the contrary, they manage highly complicated budgets with fragile margins. Effective retirement provision and savings help our customers to deal more effectively with the problems they are stuck in an inefficient cycle. ” Nigerians and Africans alike have money – but their income is unpredictable and uncertain; Awabah will fix that. “

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