Adebola Sanni is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at ErrandPay, a fintech company with a mission to enable Africans to "spend like a local in any country." Eager to expand operations to the U.S., Adebola worked with Legalpad to secure an O-1 visa.
Early Days: Oprah & Dreams of Medical School
As a child, there were two things that Adebola knew: first, she was going to be a doctor. Second, she had to get home every day to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show at 5 PM.
"Oprah was my mentor," Adebola said. Oprah's dedication to uplifting others and leaving a positive impact on the world inspired Adebola. She, too, desired to do good with her life, and becoming a doctor seemed like the most natural way to impact her community.
When it came time to apply to university, Adebola faced a choice. She was set on going to Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria, and she was also set on becoming a doctor. The problem was Covenant University did not have a medical program.
It was a difficult choice, but Adebola left her plans to be a doctor in the past and explored a new path at Covenant University. She chose to pursue a degree in what she saw as the next best thing after medicine—tech.
Adebola's Tech Career
After graduating with her computer science degree, Adebola jumped right into the tech industry.
Throughout her career, Adebola has left her imprint on a diversity of sectors—telecommunications, banking, FMCG, supply chain, eCommerce, and so many more. She has consulted for well-known companies such as Google, Shell Foundation, IFC World Bank, and many more.
In addition, she has worked in nearly every area of tech—as a backend developer, frontend developer, database engineer, and DevOps engineer. However, she found her sweet spot in the business side of tech as an innovator and strategist.
Adebola has launched numerous companies, including an eCommerce startup and multiple fintech startups. While she continues to drive vision at some of these startups as a founder and consultant, she channels the bulk of her time and energy into her most recent venture, ErrandPay.
The Road Trip That Changed Everything
In 2018, Adebola was intent on embarking on a Pan-Africa tour to explore more of the beautiful continent she called home. She wrangled together some friends, and they quickly set off, leaving their homes in Nigeria behind. They headed toward their first destination—Ghana.
After arriving in Ghana, Adebola and her friends were shocked when they couldn't pay for their hotel. Although they had Nigerian currency in cash and various debit and credit cards, they could not easily obtain the local currency to pay for their hotel.
Their only option was to call people they knew in Ghana, ask them to send money to an agent at a physical location somewhere in the city, and pick it up in person.
During their trip, they visited a few more countries and encountered the same problems with obtaining local currency. Eventually, they had to cut their trip short and return home to Nigeria because it was too difficult to obtain local currency.
"It was not a very good experience, but we learned a lot from it. That was how ErrandPay came into mind," Adebola shared with us during our recent conversation.
Adebola and her friends were certain there were others who faced the same problems when traveling throughout the continent. After sending out a few surveys, their suspicions were confirmed. They had tapped into a pain point that many people across the continent shared. Combining their tech skills, Adebola and her friends created a simple solution and released it on the Google Play Store. "We just wanted to see if people would want a similar solution; we wanted to feel out the market," Adebola said.
Without any marketing efforts, the app processed over $20,000.00 USD in the first month alone. After just a few months, it has processed over $1 million USD.
ErrandPay as a B2B Solution
After the rapid and unexpected growth of the original app, Adebola and her team realized that they'd need to create a B2B solution to scale. Now over 100 banks, fintechs, and merchants use ErrandPay's API to streamline transactions for users traveling outside their home country.
ErrandPay's API impacts individual users by allowing them to withdraw local currency outside their home country. In addition, ErrandPay's platform enables users to withdraw and send money within and outside of their home country. Adebola and her team are constantly adding new features to solve challenges Africans face when traveling.
ErrandPay’s Expansion into the U.S.
While growing ErrandPay in Africa, Adebola noticed a demand outside the continent. Specifically, there was a demand for ErrandPay amongst Africans who migrated to the U.S. Additionally, U.S. investors were intrigued by the startup.
In 2021, Adebola and her team began setting up ErrandPay's U.S. entity and planned to send Adebola to meet with U.S. banks and investors in person. But there was a problem—the wait time for U.S. visitor visas for Nigerians was over two years.
Eagerly searching for another solution to get to the U.S., Adebola heard about Legalpad from a friend in the Nigerian tech ecosystem. After connecting with Legalpad's team, Adebola learned she was qualified for the O-1 visa and started the application immediately.
Working on the O-1 was only a critical step for ErrandPay, but it also allowed Adebola an opportunity to reflect on her incredible work throughout her career.
"Working with Legalpad was an eye-opener. Through the O-1 preparation process, they brought together all the things I've done in my career, which showed me the value my career has brought to myself, to people around me, to my community, and everybody," Adebola said.
Although the O-1 visa is arguably the most complex U.S. visa, Adebola was surprised by how easy the preparation process was. "The process was not very tedious, and Legalpad made it look easy. It was a great experience," Adebola said.
Furthermore, the O-1 approval was impactful not only for Adebola but also for her company. As a result of Adebola getting the O-1, ErrandPay could finally close on partnerships that had been in the works for years. "With those partnerships in the bag, we're able to launch the new products we're working on," Adebola shared. She is also excited to have access to a larger pool of investors in the U.S.
What started with an urge to make African road trips easier has turned into a global fintech solution enabling Africans to "spend like a local" anywhere they go. As Adebola and her team make waves in the fintech world, Legalpad is thankful to have been a small part of their inspiring story. We’d be thrilled to learn about your story if you are also looking to bring your company to the U.S.. It's never too early to begin exploring your immigration options!