April 23, 2024
A Biography of Shola Akinlade

Shola is the CEO and co-founder of Paystack, a technology company powering payments and growth for businesses in Africa.

Over 60,000 businesses of all sizes – from startups to government agencies – use Paystack’s robust suite of payment APIs to collect and transfer online and offline payments securely. 

Paystack processes over 50% of all online payments in Nigeria (Africa’s largest economy), and accelerates growth for Africa’s best companies, helping them launch new business models, and deepen customer relationships.

Paystack was the first Nigerian company to be accepted into Silicon Valley-based accelerator, Y Combinator, and has raised over $10 million from both international and local investors including Stripe, Visa, Tencent, Y Combinator, Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Blue Haven Ventures, and Ventures Platform.

Before Paystack, Shola co-founded Precurio, an open-source collaboration software for businesses in emerging markets which was downloaded over 150,000 times and made available in 6 languages.

Shola holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Babcock University.

Life of “Shola Akinlade” At a Glance:

Shola Akinlade

Full Name: Shola Akinlade

Date of Birth: 12 November 1986

Award: Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) 

Nationality: Nigerian

Place of Birth: Lagos, Nigeria

Ethnicity: Yoruba

Fields of Expertise: Entrepreneur

Education: Babcock University

Contributions: Co-founder of Paystack

Net Worth: around $100 million

Birth, Education, and Early Life of “ Shola Akinlade” :

Shola Akinlade was born on November 12, 1986, in Lagos, Nigeria, and went to St. Gregory’s College for his secondary education. He proceeded to Babcock University, where he attained a degree in Computer Science.

After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, he worked as a management trainee at Heineken, where he worked on their database management. He later moved on to become a software engineer with banks.

Shola Akinlade is a private person who keeps his personal life out of the public eye. However, he is known for his philanthropic activities, especially in education. 

He supports various initiatives to improve access to quality education for young people in Nigeria. He is married and has children.

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In 2015, Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi founded Paystack, a fintech company that enables businesses in Africa to get paid online and offline. 

Paystack was part of startup accelerator YCombinator’s 2016 batch of startups. The company has since grown to become one of the leading payment systems in Nigeria, attracting the attention of Stripe, a payment processing, and software programming company.

 Stripe acquired Paystack in 2020 for $200 million, making it one of the largest acquisitions of an African startup.

In 2022, Shola Akinlade founded Sporting Lagos F.C., a football club that he notes is a platform for community development and social change. 

The club currently plays in the Nigerian National League, the country’s second tier. In March 2023, Akinlade further expanded his sports business by acquiring a 55% stake in the Danish 2nd division football club Aarhus Fremad. 

The plan is for Aarhus Fremad to support the professionalization of Sporting Lagos F.C., relying on Sporting Lagos F.C. as a talent academy in return.

Before Paystack, Shola was a Management Trainee at Heineken, specializing in database management. 

He also co-founded Klein Devort, which developed the open-source collaboration platform Precurio, used by over 200,000 organizations. 

While developing the software, several banks reached out to Shola to help them build their tools, putting him on the path to mobile payments and to building African businesses into the impactful powerhouses they can be. 

Founding Paystack

Paystack founders

Every single problem one might have thought about a decade ago, concerning finance and technology, is being taken care of one after another, and we have a generation of fintech founders to thank for this. Shola Akinlade, co-founder and CEO of Paystack is one of them.

Shola started Paystack because he believed that better payment tools are one of the most important things that African businesses need to unlock their explosive potential in the global economy.

Established in 2016, Paystack aimed to make online transactions quick and affordable – enabling the informal businesses that are the backbone of the Nigerian economy to become legitimate companies. 

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Stripe bought Paystack for more than $200m in 2020, and a year later, Paystack became the first African payment platform to partner with Apple Pay.

They rode on the back of this feat to secure the attention of more investors at the Demo Day and raised more seed funding amounting to $1.3 million. 

This funding, according to Akinlade, was used to accelerate product development, build the engineering team, and grow the sales and marketing operations. 

Paystack has come a long way since then, and now services hundreds of thousands of companies and major businesses.

Before building Paystack, he had contemplated a B2B payment system similar to Brex (an American financial service and technology company that offers business credit cards and cash management accounts to tech companies), and even went as far as buying the domain but never actually pushed through with it.

In 2018, the company announced that it had raised $8 million in Series A funding that had Stripe, Visa, and Tencent as major investors. 

With the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the company’s growth has now accelerated with more customers and signups. 

October 2020 came with another milestone; Paystack had been acquired by the US payments giant, Stripe for over $200 million, making it the biggest acquisition in Nigeria. 

For Stripe, this was part of an expansion strategy since Paystack serves a large market in the Nigerian and African fintech space.

An important thing to note about this deal is that Paystack continues to operate independently with Akinlade as CEO.

Today, the company is present in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya. It is set on deepening its pan-African presence but without losing touch with its roots.


Shola Akinlade has made 7 known investments in African startups. Their latest investment was a Pre-seed round in Norebase which was announced on May 4th, 2022. The round was closed for $1M.

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Awards & Achievements

In October 2022, Akinlade was conferred with the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of technology in finance and business.

Shola Akinlade Net Worth

Shola Akinlade, a Nigerian software engineer and entrepreneur, is the co-founder and former CEO of Paystack, a company that was acquired by Stripe in 2020 for $200 million. His net worth is estimated to be over $100 million. Akinlade also founded Sporting Lagos F.C., a football club in Nigeria, and acquired a 55% stake in a Danish 2nd division football club. He is known for his contributions to the fintech industry and his involvement in sports business, particularly football.

Shola Akinlade Football Club

Shola Akinlade founded Sporting Lagos F.C. in 2022, a football club in Nigeria that currently plays in the Nigerian National League, the country’s second tier. He intends for Sporting Lagos to be a platform for community development and social change, and plans to establish a top-tier academy at the club to train young talent.

In March 2023, Akinlade acquired a 55% stake in the Danish 2nd division football club Aarhus Fremad, which he plans to use to send the best players from Sporting Lagos to gain valuable experience playing in the Danish leagues.

This acquisition is part of his plan to build a football empire that could potentially revolutionize talent development in Africa.

Shola Akinlade Email

Shola Akinlade’s email address is [email protected].

Social Media

X: shollsman (@shollsman)

Linkedin: Shola Akinlade 

Facebook: Shola Akinlade

Instagram: Shola Akinlade

Read more on Paystack – Modern online and offline payments for Africa

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