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<strong>Adaeze Onwumere: Pioneering Financial Inclusion Through Aku</strong>

Adaeze Onwumere: Pioneering Financial Inclusion Through Aku 

Gone are the days when women were dubbed “helpers”, and were mostly restricted from taking up exclusive leadership roles. These days, you will find women leading in different industries; media, tech, health, fashion, fintech, robotics, entertainment, and trade. There are just a lot, and whichever one you think of, there is a woman steering the wheel in there. It is one of these women, who have stood out as a force to be reckoned with, that we will be celebrating in a bit.

In this issue of Chief Original Gangstar, our COG is Adaeze “Dezzy” Onwumere,  the CEO and Co-founder of Aku, a trailblazing technology company focused on expanding access to digital financial services. In this issue, we will be laying out how Dezzy, as she is popularly known, is making waves in the industry, pioneering innovation and driving financial inclusion across Africa.

Dezzy’s journey into the world of finance and technology began long before Aku. With a background in Political Science and African Studies from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, it was inevitable that she would bring a unique blend of academic prowess and real-world experience to the table.

Her career took a transformative turn during her time with the Econet Group, where she served as the Chief Operating Officer for Sasai, EcoCash Holdings. In this role, she played a vital part in formulating and executing pan-African payments strategies. Notably, Dezzy spearheaded the launch of the Sasai social payments application, showcasing her knack for driving technological innovation in the financial sector.

Dezzy’s journey continued at Cassava Fintech, where she held key positions such as Head of Commercial and Operations and Head of Product Development. During this period, she contributed to developing mobile financial services products across diverse African markets, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Lesotho, and Nigeria. With a focus on mobile micro-credit, savings, micro-insurance, and m-commerce products, Dezzy showcased her commitment to leveraging technology for financial empowerment.

In July 2019, Dezzy co-founded Aku, a company with a mission to accelerate financial inclusion and economic development in Africa through digital financial services. Aku operates as a payments-led digital bank based in Lagos, Nigeria, currently serving over 70,000 micro-merchants. The company’s vision is clear: to build wealth at the base of the pyramid, one mobile device at a time.

Dezzy’s leadership at Aku reflects her dedication to addressing fundamental challenges in the African market. Aku’s approach involves human-assisted onboarding, recognising the critical role of personal touch in overcoming literacy barriers prevalent in the region. As Dezzy aptly puts it, “Until we fix the structural problem of education, we’re not going to be able to eradicate human touch.”

Dezzy’s rich experience, coupled with her commitment to financial inclusion, positions her as a rare talent in the business ecosystem. Her journey from South London to South Africa and eventually to Nigeria demonstrates not only her resilience but also her adaptability to the diverse needs of the African continent.

As a COG, Dezzy’s story is not just inspiring but exemplary of the transformative power of combining technology, financial acumen, and a deep understanding of the local context. In her own words, “I’m passionate about fintech in emerging markets. Beyond excellence, as a founder, I hope to be distinguished by my character and integrity.”

Adaeze “Dezzy” Onwumere’s impact extends beyond Aku, as she continues to shape the narrative of fintech in Africa, proving that innovation, coupled with empathy and a keen awareness of local nuances, can truly drive meaningful change.

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