Mobile money is an African innovation. Fact. Researchers found that Sub-Saharan Africa alone had about 548 million registered mobile money accounts in 2020 with a transaction value of $490 billion.
Enter Aurélien Duval-Delort, the founder and chief executive of Bizao, a fintech that offers payment solutions across the continent.
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His mission? To democratise access to financial services for businesses and merchants.
He tells Ventureburn editor-in-chief Ivor Price about how he founded Bizao while he was heading up innovation in Africa for Orange, the French multinational telecommunications company.
“Leaving a corporate job after 15 years for a start-up life with three children, the last of whom was just three months old, you have to reorganise your private life,” he says.
“I had to spend at least two weeks in Africa per month while my wife lives in France. You must find a way not to break up with your family, especially when the children are very young.”
So, Aurélien, imagine that you are stuck in a lift with a potential investor who can help you to scale your business. How would you market your start-up to them?
Resulting from an intrapreneurship project within the Orange group, Bizao has been independent since 2019 and employs about 50 people spread across six subsidiaries in Africa.
As a fintech, Bizao aims to facilitate access to financial services on the continent. Our technical platform processes 270 million payment requests per month. We have processed 60 million Euros (about $62.3 million) in the last 12 months alone.
Bizao offers three different services: merchant payment, direct carrier billing, and money transfer to promote digital services in Africa.
I’m quite intrigued by how start-ups, like Bizao, use technology to solve some of the greatest problems of our time. What is the problem you are addressing, and how do you measure its success?
Africa remains a poorly banked continent. In some countries, the rate of banking is at less than 20%. To overcome this problem, more and more people are turning to mobile money.
Indeed, since 2020 with the advent of Covid-19, we are seeing growth in ecosystem transactions, such as merchant payments, international remittances, bill payments, and bulk disbursements that account for a larger share of overall mobile money transactions worldwide. Bizao responds to the needs of the African market, offering tailored solutions.
Thus far, what has been the biggest learning curve as an entrepreneur?
In entrepreneurship, things change quickly. You must be able to anticipate and adapt, make important decisions, see your mistakes, etc. Business experience and background help enormously in the more difficult moments. They allow us to make better decisions, more quickly, and to avoid mistakes in the management of the development and growth of the company that could lead to closure.
What does success mean to you?
I believe success is the ability to set up an organisation that works properly and that allows you to reach your life goal.
Lastly, Bizao is building cross-border payments channels for 300 million people in francophone Africa. You’re a man in demand on many tech stages, but what was the biggest lesson learnt at the recent AfricArena experience in Dakar, Senegal?
Going to AfricArena in Dakar allowed us to expand our network, and to learn more about the companies that were present. We enjoyed participating in the competition where we won the prize for the most innovative business model awarded by the jury of venture capital.