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Oystr: Unlocking credit access for the unbanked in Africa

July 5, 2023
July 10, 2023
3 mins read
Astor George
Astor George
Brand Storyteller

Editor's note:

In 2019, while building a mobile money agency to offer financial services to the unbanked, Ifedolapo Lawal was approached by a woman named Ajoke. 

“She was one of the retailers that used our services. She requested a $30 short-term loan as a credit line to get inventory for her shop,” Lawal says. “We weren’t equipped to do loans, so we approached a microfinance bank for help, but they couldn’t because Ajoke had no formal credit record or digital identity. She also had no bank account through which the bank could disburse a loan and take repayment.”

However, Ajoke had valuable transaction data and a mobile money wallet with Lawal’s company.

Focusing on a possible solution to this problem, Lawal thought, “What if there was an infrastructure that could use her mobile money transaction data as data points for creditworthiness and use her mobile money wallet as a channel to disburse and collect credit to her, wouldn’t that be great?”

And that is how Oystr Finance was born.

Oystr Finance, a Nigerian company founded in 2022, is shaking up the financial technology sector by tackling the pressing issue of credit accessibility for the unbanked population in Africa. Founded by Ifedolapo Lawal, the company aims to include 30 million marginalised African adults in the formal credit system by 2025. Oystr leverages mobile money transaction data and wallets as reliable indicators of creditworthiness. This innovative approach has the potential to uplift individuals from poverty and provide them with crucial financial security during emergencies.

In Africa, many individuals lack access to formal financial services, excluding them from credit opportunities.

This is a glaring issue that Oystr aims to address by harnessing the power of mobile money transaction data and digital wallets.

Oystr's primary objective is to make micro-loans accessible and affordable for SMEs and entrepreneurs who might not be able to get loans from traditional lenders. To achieve this goal, the company aims to overcome three critical barriers hindering credit provision:

During its early days, Oystr encountered challenges primarily regarding hiring the right talent. 

“We had huge problems with hiring wrongly. All our first staff were the wrong fit for the company because the co-founders thought we should hire fresh graduates to reduce our burn,” says Lawal. “We’ve since re-hired more experienced individuals to help drive product and growth, two essential departments that were lacking.”

In the year since it was founded, Oystr has undergone significant evolution. By strengthening its workforce with experienced individuals, the company has improved its product offerings and accelerated growth, positioning itself for even greater success in achieving its mission of providing financial identity to millions excluded from the formal credit system.

As Oystr is concerned with loan accessibility, the company needed a robust payment infrastructure to support the business. That’s when Kora came into the picture. 

“We found out about Kora through their growth and marketing personnel. Our collaboration with Kora has yielded positive outcomes. We now seamlessly process payments with their Payout product, enhancing the overall user experience for our customers,” says Lawal

According to Lawal, Oyster’s most significant impact lies in its ability to empower marginalised individuals. 

“By extending credit access, Oystr aims to break the cycle of poverty and provide individuals with a safety net during emergencies. We also aim to reshape the financial landscape for the unbanked population, fostering economic growth and stability throughout the region,” adds Lawal. 

At Kora, our goal is to connect Africa to the world and connect the world to Africa via payments. We provide All The Support You Need ™️ for startups and businesses working in Africa to start, scale and thrive on the continent. Visit to see all the ways you can thrive with Kora.