Tech start-ups have been fueling the youth in the past couple of years, with young tech- savvy graduates setting out to solve the next problem with their 0’s and 1’s. Start-ups the world around are gearing-up to be the next to shake-up the industry. Being a late bloomer and all, Africa gets to have its youth come up with modern solutions for problems that have plagued it for centuries. Despite the continent’s poverty ridden status portrayed across the world, the youth have been coming up with revolutionary ideas that are capable of competing in the worldwide market.
Ethiopia has nurtured a small band of such entrepreneurs who have set out to transform the country’s economic status. Amongst these start-ups is Chapa financial technologies, aka Chapa – a highly acclaimed tech start-up that has set out to solve the problem many companies within the country face when it comes to trading globally and accepting payments.
Chapa is an Ethiopian Financial Service and Data Engineering Company established by young Ethiopian minds scattered across the globe, while having a common dream of building a better Ethiopia. They noticed the increase in global trade, which has been heavily troubled by inconvenience in payment methods; and solving that inconvenience served as the strongest initiative behind the establishment of Chapa.
“In simple terms, Chapa is a payment gateway that allows merchants to receive payments from anywhere in the world. We build a payment infrastructure for merchants to get paid easily from their customers. We’ve been working on our product for about five years, but since there was no directive to allow us to do this, we could not put it into action. As soon as we found out that the payment gateway directive was a go in Ethiopia, we all came back and started working,” said Kidus Yohannes, the co-founder and creative director of Chapa.
The young entrepreneurs came up with a relatable name, a working space and knocking on every door that would benefit from their hard work. Suggested by a close friend, they named the company “Chapa” – a word frequented by the youth in the country, which means ‘money’ in urban slang. The founders of the company sought it fit to come up with a name that would help them connect with their target audience in a light-hearted yet more personal manner.
Established in 2020 and headquartered in Addis Ababa by a team of homegrown young professionals from an array of fields, the company managed to partner with huge projects within the country.
Staying true to their entrepreneurial spirit, the team noticed the current problem gap within the country and devised a way to assert their skills in bridging the gap they have noticed.
The startup has collaborated with Ethiopian Diaspora Agency (EDA) to raise funds for affected citizens during the ongoing war within the country, managing to raise 50 million Birr in less than a fortnight. The startup has surpassed its initial USD one million mark and is still going strong.
Mentioning Chapa’s first national contribution in developing and gifting a centralized national fund-raising platform for the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, MyGerd.com, Kidus said “As part of the company’s principle, 20 percent of our time and staff is solely dedicated to projects with social impacts; the projects we’ve done so far are exemplary of this principle.”
Kidus said that their current project is free from political agendas and that it is pushing for social impact and helping displaced citizens within the country.
“EyezonEthiopia is a project we’re doing with the EDA. We have raised USD 1.6 million within the past three weeks, with an aim to raise USD five million within the next few months,” said Kidus.
The youth are responsible for the next stage of the country’s development and the continent at large. No matter what stage the country is at, the youth is responsible to work towards a better Ethiopia. Chapa is doing just that by bridging the gap in foreign exchange shortages in the country and amongst the startup ecosystems.
“Our next cause named ‘Ke das wode Class’ is set to help rebuild destroyed schools due to the ongoing war. It is part of our social impact project as well. Our main goal is to connect Ethiopia to the global economy, but we’re also doing these side projects in the meantime,” added Kidus recalling all the projects they have in store for the country’s best interest.
Throughout their active days so far, the company has gained so much praise and acclaim, having participated in national events prepared for innovative companies, projects with government offices and more. The team of visionaries has managed to impress anyone who has had a chance to work or speak with them about their company.
The company’s and these young people’s achievements go beyond what they have done so far. The future is untapped and unexplored for them.
“The journey has been good so far; we’ve relentlessly gone at it for the past nine months. We started with convincing higher officials, so maybe working from the top down has made it easier, I don’t know; but no complaints here. We have managed to overcome any and all challenges we might have faced. So far, we’ve been working in partnerships but our next move is going to be launching our official product ‘Chapa’ in a few months. We’re going to kick it off with a couple of features to get the public familiar, then take off from that,” said Kidus, looking back at their journey so far and what’s ahead for them.
Their trajectory has been boundless to say the least, choosing to pursue a new and unexplored market, choosing to compete with giant companies and taking a brave and bald stride, while still at the infancy stage of their company. Chapa is definitely a force to be reckoned with and an eye to keep on. We hope to see so much more from these young entrepreneurs in the near future and beyond.