How It All Began...

Grace Jerolgan - Cofounder of Futa

9/18/20233 min read

Our journey began in March 2021 during a brainstorming session in Barcelona. Our two founders, Grace Jerolgan and Daniel Dang, were working on reducing costs and delivery times for their startup called Dimbaya.com: an e-commerce platform for prepaid services and products delivered in Africa.

First Failure

They spent a lot of time discussing with partners, searching for better methods to enable merchants to efficiently source and deliver. However, in the end, there were no solutions to save the business. So, they decided to close it.

The Lightbulb Moment

Two months later, reflecting on this failure, Daniel said, "Why has no one built a payment app that facilitates mobile money payments like Google Pay does? Here in Europe, I can go to a store and pay with my digital card without internet." And that was the aha moment.

The Diagnosis

Over the next few months, they interviewed over 50 merchants in Douala, Cameroon, one of Dimbaya's most active countries, and kept hearing the same thing: accepting digital payments was still cumbersome. Often, these merchants had no change to give to customers paying in cash. They also lacked point-of-sale systems to process card payments, as they were expensive, and mobile money merchant payments were not accessible to these small businesses.

Baby Steps

Daniel Dang and Grace Jerolgan Nganakala decided to do something about it. In two months, they built the prototype of a new merchant payment solution called "Sika," which means "money" in Twi, a Ghanaian language. Then, in October 2021, they flew to Douala to create the first MVP based on USSD technology. On November 22, they started its development, and on June 8, 2022, they launched it as Futa, meaning "Pay" in Lingala, a Congolese language. Two weeks later, 10 merchants and 50 consumers were already testing the app. The user experience was excellent, and the application worked perfectly.

A U-turn to Launch the Revolution

However, some consumers started complaining that the app didn't allow them to send money to their loved ones, and merchants began pressuring them to send more customers. Faced with this "chicken or egg" situation, we decided to start with consumers and create a P2P version for intra-operator transfers to test the practical aspect of our offer. We launched this solution on November 21, 2022.

The Results

Today, we have already processed over $296,000, and we have over 1600 beta users waiting for the final MVP scheduled for October 2, 2023. This will allow Cameroonians to send money from one operator to another instantly and at a lower cost, as well as purchase credit and packages from all networks to test our second offer: the lowest price.

It's Bigger Than Us

The Futa team works hard to provide Cameroonians with the best payment experience. When we started, we were trying to solve our own problems: reducing operating costs and improving the payment experience for our merchants. But soon, we realized that other small businesses and many people in Cameroon were facing the same problems.

What Does the Future Look Like?

In the end, our vision is to build the modern bank for the modern African. We want to be more of a contemporary bank than a payment app to allow even the farmer in the remote village to send and receive money safely, access loans, and even investment opportunities with or without the internet.

The Present

We want to help businesses thrive and give Africans a taste of real financial inclusion. We are tackling one of the most challenging financial challenges: building a custom banking system, both technically and operationally.

We Can't Do It Alone

Join us in this exciting adventure and be among the first to benefit from the financial revolution we are bringing to Cameroon. Subscribe for our newsletter to stay informed about our progress and upcoming exciting features. Thank you for being part of the Champions' family!