Filippos Kyprianou

Vonage for Startups

Filippos is running our Startup program at Vonage. He is passionate about all things innovation, startups and positive social impact.

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Startup Spotlight Series: Let's meet Chapa

Last updated on Feb 21, 2022

The African startup ecosystem is starting to take off, with startups raising over 4.27 billion US Dollars in 2021. This record quadrupled the 1.1 billion USD that was pumped into the continent in 2020. The ecosystem has often been ignored, but African startups have started making waves, catching the eye of leading international organizations.

One of the startups shaping the future of the African continent is Chapa, established in 2020 by a team of engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs. Chapa, an Ethiopian Financial Service and Data Engineering startup, is aiming to simplify payment and trading methods for companies in the region. This week we caught up with Israel Goytom, Co-Founder and CTO at Chapa, to find out more about the future of the company!

The startup at a glance

Startup NameChapa

Industry: Fintech

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Date founded: January 2020

Number of employees: 20

Vonage API used: SMS

In one sentence, what does Chapa do?

We are building payment infrastructure for ambitious Ethiopian businesses. 

What is the problem you are solving? Was this the initial problem or did you pivot?

Fragmented payments in Ethiopia have been a significant problem for most Ethiopian businesses and entrepreneurs. We are essentially and primarily focusing on fixing and providing solutions for payment & transaction issues that are predominant in developing countries, mainly in East Africa. We have acquired and established holy-grail tools, exclusive techniques, and methodologies to ensure the production of qualified hi-tech fixes for our customers.

What differentiates Chapa from your competitors? Is there a secret sauce?

We don't build a product; instead, we build a solution. We are customer-centric, and first understand our users and then build a solution.

VC, Angel, Bootstrap or Other?

Angel investment so far.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

The regulations and policies were one of the biggest challenges we have faced. We had to show the government that Fintech was necessary for the economy.   

The biggest mistake Chapa has made so far and what did you learn from it?

We underestimated the most prominent companies. We initially thought SMEs were the only businesses that have payment-related problems, but we were wrong.

You can choose one to be on your board: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Who do you choose and why? 

Bill Gates knows how to apply his knowledge to real-world problems. As a board member, I believe he will make us fight for everything. 

How have you been using Vonage’s APIs?

Notification is everything when you build a customer-centric product. We use Vonage’s SMS APIs to notify our users of every transaction they make. 

What progress have you made since launching? 

We built a product that transacted more than USD 6,000,000 in less than four months. 

What’s next for Chapa? Where do you want to be in 3 years?

Our mission is to connect Ethiopia to the global economy. By 2025, we will empower 100,000 businesses, developers and entrepreneurs with our P2P products, platform, and payment APIs. 

Let's work together - Vonage for Startups

At Vonage for Startups, we help early-stage startups better understand Communications APIs' power and enable them to utilise these tools better. We provide the necessary educational resources and a supportive environment for the startup community to benefit from Communications APIs, whatever their individual needs are.

Apply to join us here.