Abbey Wemimo, a 31-year-old Nigerian immigrant in the United States, has built a business valued at $1 billion in just four years. Abbey started his journey in the slums of Lagos, Nigeria. Having lost his father at the age of 2, he was raised by his mother and two sisters, whom he described as feisty.
Growing up, Abbey felt disadvantaged because he believed he wouldn’t have access to everything he needed to succeed in life due to the financial constraints his family was facing. However, his mother believed otherwise. She already had a plan in place, and that plan was education. She sourced the funds to enroll Abbey in one of the finest high schools in Lagos, using her hard-earned salary.
Attending such a high-value school gave Abbey access to children of prominent people in society, and this exposure shifted his mindset to not limit his life’s destination and what he could achieve. This change in mindset prompted him to write an international exam to study in the United States. Fortunately, he was admitted to study at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. He also earned his Master of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
BUILDING THE FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY POWERHOUSE, ESUSU.
That young boy who believed he wouldn’t amount to anything in life has gone on to build Esusu, one of the few Black-Owned Unicorns in America, at 31 years old. Abbey Wemimo co-founded Esusu with Samir Goel. Esusu is the leading financial technology company that helps individuals save money and build their credit scores.
Esusu was born out of the struggle Abbey’s mother went through to get a loan to fund Abbey’s schooling after they immigrated to the U.S. when he was 17. She did not have a credit score, so she had to borrow from a predatory lender at a 400% interest rate, from church members, and sell off her late husband’s wedding ring and all her jewelry.
In addition to the hardship his mother went through sourcing funds from reputable financial institutions in the United States due to the lack of a credit score, Abbey and his co-founder also saw that 45 million people have low or no credit score in America, with an average debt of $92 thousand. Also, over 110 million people rent in America, and less than 10% of their data is being captured even though they spend approximately 114 trillion on rent every year.
Esusu aims to solve this problem by creating a path for those who have no other option to build their credit. They do this by reporting rent payments to major credit bureaus, helping renters build their scores, and landlords and property managers maximize their returns. The company generates income through subscription fees on its savings platform and by charging landlords to use its rent reporting service.
As explained by Abbey, Esusu’s business model is a win-win. Renters wouldn’t have to go through what his mother did because they could establish their credit score with Esusu and also have access to zero-interest rent relief. Landlords can maintain a good reputation by not evicting their tenants but getting paid by the company. Lastly, Esusu is preventing eviction and homelessness in American society.
Currently, the company works with more than 50% of the largest operators and property owners in the U.S., which results in over four million rental units. In January 2022, Esusu attained a $1 billion valuation after receiving a $130 million investment in 2021.
Although when they first started, the co-founders had issues raising funds for the business. They reached out to 300 investors who said no to their idea. The first investors in Esusu, apart from Abbey and his co-founder, who sold all they had, were his colleague who gave up buying a home to invest, and the people who borrowed money to invest in the business. These are the same people who gave Esusu the energy to win against all odds, Abbey Wemimo stated in his video interview with Shopee Black.
Also during the interview, Abbey listed the factors that attract investors, who are mostly people of color, to Esusu. Billionaire.Africa highlights them below:
- The investors realized that investing in low to medium-income households is not only good for them but also great for America’s economy. They saw that 45 million people did not have a way of being priced with an average debt of $92 thousand. This made them realize that Esusu could unlock $4.1 trillion in the capital, which would produce results that would be good for the economy, GDP, and taxpayers, and less strain on the Welfare System.
- They also realized that America is built on cheap debt and low-medium income people, especially Blacks, have been left out of the equation for a very long time, so Esusu is working on bridging the gap by building an inclusive financial system that can help these people build their credits and give them access to more financial benefits.
- The investors see the large accessible market even though it is targeted towards low-medium income individuals. The paradigm of justice capitalism that the company is working with gets them so excited to be part of the vision and mission of Esusu
Building Esusu into a Unicorn in just 4 years was not a result of luck. Abbey and his team spent the first two and half years building the right connections with the platform that would help them scale. Esusu records a 400% increase in growth yearly, as stated by Abbey Wemimo in his video interview with Shoppe Black. He also mentioned that they are prudent in their spending and focused on the vision of keeping people in their homes.
Before Abbey co-founded Esusu in 2018, he had already built Clean Energy for Everyone, a social enterprise that provides access to clean water to over 250,000 people in six countries. He also established Open Aid Initiative, a company that specializes in financial data analysis. He also worked as a Mergers and Acquisitions Consultant at PWC. In this role, he worked on more than 20 deals which were valued at $50 billion. The experiences he gained from working at Accenture, the European Commission, and Goldman Sachs helped him build Esusu into a Unicorn in four years.