Who is Beni Ngwamah?
The journey to WEKA started much earlier than expected, I was born in the capital of DR Congo, Kinshasa where I lived until I was around seven years old when my family moved to the UK. I think growing up in DR Congo with limited opportunities taught me a lot about being resourceful and self-reliant. I remember being sent to the market from a very young age, and you had to use whatever you could get your hands on to create something of value.
Beni went on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of York in the UK. After graduating, he worked for Barclays Bank for nearly two and a half years before deciding to really focus on establishing WEKA.
How did the name come about?
The name 'weka' is in Swahili, which is one of the main languages spoken in DR Congo. It means 'to put away' or 'to keep'. I wanted a name that was simple and catchy and the name made sense because we are platform helping and empowering people to invest.
How does it work?
WEKA is a London-based investment platform, which uses the latest technology to facilitate the process of investing with the aim of ensuring that the user feels confident parting with their money, starting with as little as £100.
We want to change the narrative of the lack of transparency and high risk associated with African investments by leveraging data analytics and partnerships with top banks accelerators and incubators. We want our customers are able to choose, fund and monitor their investments through an interactive dashboard on the platform.
Why is it important for the diaspora actively participate in shaping Africa?
The diaspora is an economic force that can't be ignored. According to the World Bank, Africans from outside the continent sent around $48 billion to Sub-Saharan Africa alone in 2019. But what if we could invest in a way that is empowering and sustainable — that's the ultimate goal.
I want to help connect Africa to the world in a way that hasn't happened yet — that's a relationship that is beneficial to the continent as well as foreign investors. Our slogan is 'invest in what matters', so our mission is to help find African solutions to African problems and break away from the dependency cycle of remittance, and instead foster a young independent population that is aspirational and entrepreneurial.
Two things that come to mind when thinking about any form of investment are stability and transparency which go hand-in-hand. I think especially when we've asked Africans in the diaspora who want to invest questions of transparency, stability, and security.
We want to make investments on the continent simple, easy, and effective by providing emerging tech-enabled small businesses in Africa with greater access to funding. This is through empowering the diaspora and facilitating investment through the platform. The aim is to become the go-to platform for African development and at the forefront of tackling financial exclusion for businesses and startups in Africa.
What have been some of the milestones so far?
In the six-year journey of WEKA, I have learned a lot and I'm still learning. A big milestone for us has been WEKA’s successful pilot group of individuals who invested £10,000 of debt capital into two award-winning Ghanaian startups, Complete Farmer and Nvoicia. A WEKA pilot investor Serena Grillo, who is a British-Nigerian saw a financial opportunity as well as the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.
What are three words to describe the Africa you want to see?
My three words are creative, beautiful, and innovative. Firstly, creative because I think Africans are the most creative people in the world. Our creativity comes in so many forms and I think we should be using it in our problem-solving and ultimately progress. Our creativity should not be about replicating what is already existing but actually creating something completely brand new and innately African.
The word beauty comes to mind simply because our continent is home to such immeasurable natural beauty, and I believe we should be harnessing it while preserving it instead of rapid unsustainable urbanisation. Finally, I would say innovative because we should be constantly striving and finding new ways to create for the future with a uniquely African perspective.
NOTE: Click here to find out more about WEKA and how the platform works.