Growing up, Rasaq Ahmed’s family nearly died from an ethnic conflict and things came to a head in 1999 when violent clashes between the Hausa and Yoruba ethnic groups which led his family to flee the state after they were rescued by the Nigerian army.
He said they were all indoors hoping that something magical would happen because they had seen other people being killed, and we were conscious of the fact that it could be their last day.
The mob only had sticks and cutlasses. So, immediately after they heard the gunshots, they knew help had come. If the Nigerian army had waited a few more minutes before they arrived, he wouldn’t be here today.
Ahmed and his family subsequently settled at Ogbomoso, his parents’ hometown, which gave him an opportunity to attend university. Ahmed wouldn’t have attended university if he had stayed in the north because he was learning to repair generators.
In Ogbomoso, Ahmed went on to earn First Class academic honors while studying economics at Obafemi Awolowo University. He then got his first job at Meristem Securities as a Research Analyst. This introduced Ahmed to investment banking.
In 2010, he left Meristem for Vetiva Capital Management, where he spent about four months as a Research analyst. He later joined Shell Petroleum Development Company as Business Economist.
“A lot of companies need to be formalized, so they become investable and provide liquidity options for investors. My target was to formalize the informal sector and make them investable options. There are lots of opportunities that evade businesses in this country when they do not have the required institutional framework,” he said.
Ahmed later co-founded CowryWise in 2017. “CowryWise was born out of necessity; the necessity to meet the demand of people who want to be more financially responsible by having access to simple financial planning tools, high-quality savings and investments opportunities,” he told Ventures Africa.
“The idea of CowryWise came in when we had a lot of people come asking ‘how do I invest 1000 naira and small amounts like 50,000 naira. After much deliberations, we decided that the best way to scale was to open it up to the public and that was what gave birth to CowryWise,” he explained.
CowryWise introduced its automatic savings option to enable customers to save and invest regularly without stress.
“What we’ve done is to make investment as simple as sending a Tweet,” he said. “It’s resonating very well with the younger generation, and that is the next stage for investment—not just in Nigeria; it’s a global trend.”