Smart addressing startup OkHi secures $1.5m seed funding to drive smart address verification in Africa
Smart addressing startup, OkHi, has secured a $1.5 million seed extension, bringing the total of its seed funding to $3 million. This raise is supported by notable firms and individuals who, beyond funding, bring a wealth of expertise to OkHi.
The new investors include Chapel Hill Denham, Flutterwave’s founder and executives, and EXFI (a syndicate of ex-Googlers), who join existing investors such as Founders Factory Africa, Betatron, and Interswitch Group.
Bolaji Balogun, CEO, Chapel Hill Denham: “I am very excited to invest in OkHi and to join its board. OkHi has the rare opportunity to truly impact half the world and its economy while building a viable business. The founders and leadership team have the grit, determination, and skills to achieve their mission, and I am pleased to be part of their journey.” Bolaji will be joining OkHi’s board to support the company in attaining widespread adoption in Africa.
In many African countries, poor addressing infrastructure inhibits economies by making proving or navigating to addresses extremely challenging and expensive. In Nigeria, financial institutions need to verify their customers’ addresses to set up bank accounts. Either they use utility bills, which most people don’t have or they send a physical agent to the address, which can take over 3 weeks and cost up to $5. It holds back access to finance.
But the challenge of address verification has a wider impact on the socio-economic environment. According to an OkHi survey conducted on hundreds of Nigerians, 78% revealed that they were required to prove their address to get a job - that is concerning when over 50% said they did not have a utility bill and 57% revealed that they had been unable to prove their address in certain situations.
OkHi has developed the only smart address verification service in the world that can verify a person’s address through their smartphone, replacing the need for utility bills and in-person visits. A pilot conducted with Stanbic IBTC showed that OkHi’s address verification product is 30% more accurate, 4x faster and 50% cheaper than the industry standard of sending a physical agent to a customer’s doors. Today, there are OkHi addresses in 54 countries around the world proving their platform is ready to scale.
With the new funds, OkHi will be able to achieve its 2022 goal of verifying the addresses of more than one million people in Nigeria, which will facilitate better access to financial services, as well as more efficient delivery services. The company will invest the new capital to hire global talent across sales, product and engineering to meet increased demand emanating from the financial services sector.
Timbo Drayson, Founder and CEO, OkHi: “At OkHi, we believe a physical address is a human right. It empowers a person to prove where they live so that they can open a bank account, get a delivery to their door and trust an ambulance to find them. OkHi's goal in Nigeria is to demonstrate to the world how a smart addressing system should work. Once we've achieved that, we intend to scale to every other emerging market.”
OkHi’s differentiator from other solutions in the market lies in its focus on addressing people and not places. Whereas other solutions map the physical location of a building, OkHi proves who lives inside the building. The new funds enable OkHi to continue to fulfil its mission to enable the 4 billion people without a physical address to #beincluded.