Rahmon Ojukotola is the founder of StartCredits, a financial technology firm that helps Nigerians to find loans and save money. He talks to NNC about moving back to Nigeria to start a business and provides top tips on how to become financially savvy.
Please tell us about yourself
I am the founder of StartCredits. I worked in investment and central banking for a number of years and gained an MSc in Finance from the London School of Economics and an ACA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. I also run an agency (RooJ) that promotes the talents of Nigerian athletes and artists.
What is StartCredits and what inspired its inception?
StartCredits is a financial technology firm that helps Nigerians to find loans and save money. We do this through our loan comparison and credit risk modelling. StartCredits was incepted to disrupt traditional borrowing, as our product provides transparency and increases competition in the market to reduce interest rates for qualified borrowers. It also provides a new channel for Nigerians to borrow money.
What are your top 3 financial tips for young professionals?
- Never take a loan for an expenditure such as a new TV or the latest iPhone
- Look out for additional charges like early repayment fees on loans
- Always calculate the APR on the life of the loan to ensure you can afford it
What top tip would you offer an entrepreneur aspiring to start a business?
My top tip is to make sure that everything you’re doing is simultaneously helping you achieve your goals and make profits as well. Don’t leverage too much and try not to grow too fast. Also, make sure that what you’re doing is what people want; the whole point of doing business is addressing the needs of society. So make sure you do your extensive research, go out and meet people to listen to what they’re saying, and make sure you have the right skill set to execute your plan. Once all of that is in place, you’re good to go.
You left a career in banking to start your own business, how has the transition been?
The transition was difficult at the start as I relocated to Nigeria to start the business, but once I adjusted to the new surroundings, it became easier.
For entrepreneurs in the same shoes as you were, that is, based in diaspora but would like to move to Nigeria to start a business, what advice would you offer them?
My advice is simple, if you see an opportunity and you have the right skills set, do it. I decided to build a start-up in Nigeria because there were opportunities and issues that needed tackling, and I thought I had the right skill set to do so. I gave up a well paying job and decided to come back to try and build something that would hopefully contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.
Where would you like to see StartCredits in the next 5 years?
We have helped thousands of Nigerians to save millions of naira in interest rate so far and hope to save billions of naira in the next 5 years. The aim is to create a reliable and trustworthy platform for Nigerians to source funding for their business, education or personal needs.
There is a rising number of young Nigerians abroad who are getting more involved with the country. What are your thoughts on this?
Young Nigerians have the most to offer Nigeria in my opinion. Nigerians in Diaspora remit about $20 billion annually but the country needs skilled young Nigerians to aid development. We all know the numerous issues associated with running a business in Nigeria, be it the endemic corruption from public officials, poor infrastructure and high cost of basic amenities in the west like broadband. Young Nigerians abroad have a lot of the skill sets required to address a lot these issues.
Do you think it’s important for young Nigerians abroad to be connected and what benefit do you think this will produce?
Yes it is very important as it ensures you do not forget your culture whether its Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa. It also helps young Nigerians working abroad as it gives them ideas they can use in the work place.
What more do you think needs to be done to connect the Nigerian community in diaspora?
The quickest and easiest way for Nigerians in the diaspora to connect is through capital. In 2017, the Nigeria Debt Management Office (DMO) issued a five-year $300 million Diaspora Bond at a coupon rate of 5.625%. Young Nigerians can participate, and connect,through funding projects for the development of Nigeria.
What’s next for you?
StartCredits is currently the number one destination for loan seekers online in Nigeria, my aim is to make it the location for Nigerians who want the information but don’t have access to the internet.