Hi! I’m Ifunanya – I lead the Banks and Merchants Partnerships team at Flutterwave. I have an amazing daughter. I love reading and traveling. Unlike GB, I am not a fan of any football club; I support any club supported by my friends.
I want to tell you my Flutterwave story, and I think it’s a good story. I remember that it all started with GB headhunting me to join the team. Before that, I was a banker and I hadn’t even heard about Flutterwave. I had a job that paid me enough to slay! I am woman, and a woman should slay. But I left a job with well-defined roles and an existing structure for one that didn’t seem to have these things because I believed in the vision. I still do. I was ready to test my limit.
When I was in secondary school, people often called me a bookworm. I recall reading an entire bookshelf containing over 90 of my Dad’s novel collection in 3 months during the long holidays. Exhausted from lack of sleep and the effect of reading with a kerosene lantern most nights, my dad told me that a hungry mind pursues more than just knowledge of facts. Dad told me that a hungry mind tests the limits of what one can do. I have learnt to test my limits since then.
You would think that testing my limits in a whole new venture would be scary but it was quite the opposite. I feel like I was created for this. For some reason, I have always been interested in cross border payments. During the period when Nigeria was experiencing US Dollar scarcity, the Central Bank of Nigeria in an attempt to fix the problem resorted to placing restrictions on card payment and repatriations of funds. I have firsthand knowledge of how that impacted people and businesses. Two of my siblings live abroad so I literally lived it.
My knowledge of payment methods and the payments industry in Africa has gone from basic to advanced. I now understand the nuances of the issues that affect industries, how payments happen in different African countries, and the lean digital financial infrastructure currently in place. There is a wide payments gap, and Flutterwave’s vision of building a Pan-African payments infrastructure is bridging this gap. From engaging Banks and Card networks who lend us their capabilities as we build the pan African payment rail to listening to the payment needs of merchants whose only aspiration is to collect or make payment, I go to bed daily knowing that I am making an impact in Africa.
It’s the second anniversary of my first day at Flutterwave! My typical day starts with engaging merchants or banks; it could be to understand their pain points or to explain how a solution will increase their efficiency. Sometimes, to foster full disclosure, we sign Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Once we agree on a solution and the commercials, I share a contract. Contract review and execution typically entails some back and forth by the parties’ Lawyers. Then our implementation team takes over the project, working with our engineers and the other party’s engineers to conclusion and go-live.
The teamwork involved in delivering a project is one of the most critical, but also one of the most amazing aspects of my work. I am constantly thankful for the fact that I can count on every member of the team to play his or her part and not drop the ball. It doesn’t always go as smoothly as I seem to make it sound; there is always the occasional misunderstanding. But in the end, we get the job done, we learn from our mistakes, and we become better; as individuals, as a team, and as a company.
I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had so far. They say experience is the best teacher and I’d like to think that I am a good student. I work––and have worked with––some of the best and most amazing teachers; Iyin, fondly called E, Olugbenga fondly called GB, Moses fondly called Master, Biyi fondly called Compliance, Ernest fondly called Nanya (pronounced with a light British accent), and Deji to mention just a few….I have become even taller standing on their shoulders (I am physically taller than most of them, by the way, except for GB). In one way or the other, they have put things in better perspective for me.
Every now and then, sometimes during the high moments, and sometimes in the low moments, I ask my daughter how I can be a better mom and what I can do to make her feel more loved. I ask her what am I not doing well. Over the years, every suggestion, every answer, and every explanation has brought us closer. As we grow in Flutterwave, and as Flutterwave grows, both as a business and in employee numbers, we have not forgotten to ask questions about how to be a better service organization, and how to push the boundaries of customer service as we bridge the payment service gap in Africa. And we always listen when we get answers.
I became a year older a few weeks ago and my focus hasn’t been any more clearer. I deliberately seek adventure. I aspire to live more. Being an introvert, I am determined to purposefully socialize. I also give back to the society in whatever capacity I can. Life is thrilling and invigorating. And just when I thought the year couldn’t get any better, one evening, as I conversed with a prospective customer in a picturesque restaurant in Ikoyi, I met Genevieve Nnaji, my idol. Genevieve defied obstacles and various barriers to become a top actress in Nollywood, conquering the movie world in the process. Only, recently, Netflix acquired her movie, Lion heart.
What more could I ask for? I am grateful to be alive and contented with every gift I have been given; I do not think that I am doing badly at all, am I?