Entrepreneur Akeem Adebisi changing lives for racialized communities

Akeem Adebisi

Akeem Adebisi created app after seeing marginalized Winnipeggers struggle with their finances.

When Nigerian-born Akeem Adebisi moved to Winnipeg with his family in 2015, he noticed the local racialized community was having trouble navigating the banking system and making ends meet.

“You know, a lot of people are struggling in our community,” he said. “I mean, the Black community here in Manitoba, doing three jobs, doing four jobs, you know, just to make ends meet.”

Adebisi knew many people who were getting money through payday loans without realizing how the system works.

“This is the challenge that most folks face when they come to Canada … if the banking system is not helping you.”

Akeem Adebisi

Adebisi, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs, decided to find a solution — all while navigating his new telecommunications job, where he said he frequently encountered racism from clients.

In 2019, he created AjoPro, an app that helps people save for goals. Those can include anything from paying off student debt, to saving up for a down payment to buy a house.

AjoPro is billed as a “social money” app that allows users to borrow money from their community without interest or credit checks, and avoid costly payday loans.

According to AjoPro’s App store page, the concept is based on a centuries old self-funding system popularly known as a Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCA).

Adebisi says the app, which saw $2 million in transactions last year, has had a positive impact on the people who use it.

“If you look at the response that people have been giving us on our Google, our Google Play or our Android Apple Store, you will see tremendous joy,” he said.

“It’s a feeling that, you know, one can’t really describe: the fact that you are making people happy, you are changing lives, you’re making people feel like they belong.”