CBC is highlighting stories from Black Canadian immigrants to share the joys and obstacles on their paths to Black excellence. From their first steps in Canada to the moments that marked their lives. These are your trips here.
When Nigerian-born Akeem Adebisi moved to Winnipeg with his family in 2015, he realized that 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 receiving money through payday loans without realizing how the system works.
“This is the challenge that most people face when they come to Canada … if the banking system is not helping them.”
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 customers.
In 2019, he created AjoPro, an app that helps people save for their goals. These can include anything from paying off student debt to saving for a down payment on a home.
AjoPro advertises itself as a “social money” app that allows users to borrow money from its community with no interest or credit checks, and avoids expensive payday loans.
According to AjoPro’s app store page, the concept is based on a centuries-old self-financing system popularly known as Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCA).
Adebisi says the app, which generated $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, you can’t really describe: the fact that you’re making people happy, you’re changing lives, you’re making people feel like they belong.”
Being Black in Canada: My Journey Here’s a special series in which Black Canadian immigrants share the joys and obstacles on their paths to Black excellence. From their first steps in Canada to the moments that marked their lives.