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Connecting Africa Podcast S2 Ep. 9 – Financial literacy & wealth creation

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In this Connecting Africa Podcast, we feature fintech startup Bamboo, which is opening up the global investment market to Africans while promoting financial literacy and education.

Bamboo co-founder and CEO Richmond Bassey joined the podcast to talk about the "wealthtech" app which helps investors in Africa buy US-based stocks.

Bamboo sees itself as a digital broker for Africa that can help people tap into global opportunities, including fractional investing, as a way to grow the wealth of the continent and its people.

Many Africans have watched their savings evaporate due to weak currencies and high inflation, and Bamboo has ambitions to help Africans of any age invest their money and build long-term wealth.

Bassey shared Bamboo's origin story and how the idea for the platform was sparked by a conversation that he had with friends back in 2018 about investing opportunities in West Africa.

At that time, Nigeria's inflation rate was at about 15% but the interest rate coming from his bank savings account was just 3%.

"It struck me that I really needed to figure out what to do with my money and how to invest it. I started looking for platforms and ways to invest my money locally in Nigeria, at least in a way that I could be inflation protected. I tried different platforms but unfortunately couldn't find, at the time, any asset class locally that could return above inflation."

He decided to begin investing in US stocks but found it was very difficult for average Nigerians to do so, with an elitist, outdated system that only catered to the super-rich.

Bamboo co-founder and CEO Richmond Bassey.   (Source: Bamboo)
Bamboo co-founder and CEO Richmond Bassey.
(Source: Bamboo)

Bassey and co-founder Yanmo Omorogbe launched Bamboo at the end of 2019 with the aim of demystifying investment products and providing safe ways to invest through a digital platform that is user-friendly and simple.

Knowledge is power

Most Bamboo users are new to investing, and one of the key focus areas for the company is providing financial education through things like investment guides and stock market courses.

"I'm not mad at being called a content company that happens to provide investment services, because we think that's where it starts. It starts with empowering people with knowledge. Once someone knows what to do that is the first lightbulb that goes on," Bassey said.

"We really spend a lot of time and effort trying to syndicate insights to our user base that helps them get started on their journey to investing," he added.

Expansion plans and regulatory roadblocks

Bamboo is currently available in Nigeria and Ghana and has its sights set on launches in Kenya and South Africa before the end of 2023.

The company will use SA and Kenya as jump-off points for further expansion in Southern and Eastern Africa respectively.

It is also exploring intra-African investments through local stock exchanges and offering more international capital market options outside of just the US. He said Bamboo receives a lot of requests from users for access to markets in Europe and Asia and will expand further based on that demand.

The Bamboo app works as a digital broker, enabling African investors to buy US-based stocks.   (Source: Bamboo)
The Bamboo app works as a digital broker, enabling African investors to buy US-based stocks.
(Source: Bamboo)

The conversation then shifted to the challenges fintechs face when it comes to regulation and licenses to operate across multiple markets.

"For some African markets there is no contemplation of a digital platform that is able to onboard citizens at scale and expose them to a plethora of opportunities to invest. It's not contemplated in some of the laws that exist within some local African capital markets frameworks," he said.

The regulatory environment remains diverse across Africa, and while some markets are focused on enabling innovation other regulators and lawmakers are not keeping up with the pace of innovation when it comes to fintech laws and licenses.

"We have to do a lot of work to educate our regulators and regulatory partners to show them how our technology and platform works, and how it's good for citizens. So far we have seen a lot of collaboration from regulators," he said.

Bassey admitted this has not been without challenges, but generally regulators want to work with fintech platforms like Bamboo to open up the market and encourage more investment from new demographics of investors.

"We are fortunate to have regulators that we think are forward thinking because in ten years investing is not going to be the same way it is today, the rules are not going to be the same," he continued. More people will want to participate and there must be the right regulatory regime that looks into the future and says, "'this is what we need to do today to ensure that the market continues to receive liquidity, to receive new participation' and to have a deeper market," he told the podcast.

Want to know more about African startups and new innovations on the continent? Check out our Innovation Hub here on Connecting Africa.

If you want to catch up on all the previous episodes you can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or find other podcast platform options on our main page on Spotify for Podcasters.

You can also find the podcast hosts online here:

Paula Gilbert (@paulajgilbert)

Tobi Lafinhan (@TobiLafinhan)

Matshepo Sehloho (@tsokamatshepo)

Related posts:

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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