The lessons of 2020 are driving trends in business leadership and Fintech for 2021, says Innovate1Pay Chairman Mahmood Ahmadu

Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Chairman of Nigerian Fintech firm Innovate1Pay, Mahmood Ahmadu has shared his vision for 2021, as businesses reopen in the new normal. Drawing on the pragmatic leadership required in a highly disruptive 2020, and the positive impact of Fintech during the crisis, Mr Ahmadu believes that the building on these lessons will be crucial for economic revival, in 2021.   

Founder and Chairman of Nigerian Fintech firm Innovate1Pay, Mr Mahmood Ahmadu has called on business leaders to contextualize their 2021 strategies, in light of the lessons learnt from the disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Widely acknowledged as one of the leading African entrepreneurs – and recipient of the Forbes Africa Award and Euro-knowledge Award in 2020, for his philanthropy – Mr Ahmadu emphasised the importance of people-centric leadership, and the financial inclusion enabled by Fintech, as key elements for an optimal economic recovery in 2021.

“2020 tested most business models severely. Leaders have had to rely on frequent and effective communication with their organizations”, said Mr Ahmadu. “We have witnessed a more forensic attention to the details of business models, and tighter cost controls than before the pandemic. Under immense financial pressure, and few available options, businesses realized the importance of collaborative support, from partners and suppliers, as well as the true value of the human capital within their organizations and the goodwill of their customer base.”

“Managing businesses remotely has reinforced the value of innovation, empowering decision makers at all levels of an organization, and the transformative power of emerging technologies”, Mr Ahmadu added.

As one of Africa’s leading Fintech firms and payment platforms, Innovate1Pay played a crucial role in ensuring that the impact of the lockdowns due to COVID-19, among the large segment of Africa’s population as yet unreached by traditional banking, was somewhat limited through the implementation of digital alternatives.

“Through the everyday processing of payments and financial activity by Innovate1Pay, we witnessed the massive positive impact of Fintech, during the global pandemic, first-hand”, Mr Ahmadu continued. “In Africa, where formal infrastructure can often be inadequate, Fintech played a prominent role in empowering migrant workers to send monies to their loved ones under lockdown. Civil society, especially the significant African diaspora, was able to come together and extend support to the needy, despite limitations on physical movement”.

“Fintech emerged as a prime example of the huge positives that appropriate innovation and technology deliver. But the implications are much wider. As the global economy reopens, the most important insight we can draw from 2020 is the impact of a people-centric approach and technology, to get us through an unprecedented crisis. Leveraging these strategies effectively will continue to be our strength, if we are to thrive in the new normal”, Mr Ahmadu concluded.


Nigerian Fintech company and payment services provider Innovate 1 Pay was established in 2012. It provides online payment solutions for retail and wholesale mobile remittances, mobile money and currency card payments. The largest domestic service provider of this nature in its home country, the company has since spread its operations to 24 different nations. The company’s online wallet accepts Visa, MasterCard, Internet Banking, debit and credit cards, as well as offering customers the ability to store money in an online wallet, for easy and secure payments. The Innovate 1 Pay payment gateway is a comprehensive one-stop solution, enabling quick foreign currency transfers and offering touch points integrated with several banks, payment processors, mobile money operators and more.


As the Chairman of Innovate 1 Pay and Online Integrated Solutions, Mr Mahmood Ahmadu’s entrepreneurial vision has empowered financial inclusion across Africa. Under his stewardship Online Integrated Solutions has emerged as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Caribbean and African businesses, and a point of contact between these regions and global markets, particularly the Middle East and Far East Asia. An MBA from the UK accredited Nassarawa University, Mr Ahmadu invested in his first successful company in the early 80’s, emerging as a bright star among earlier pioneers of trading in GSM, in northern Nigeria. He launched Innovate 1 pay in 2012, as a pioneering African Fintech company, with a vision to pursue holistic global integration of underserved markets. Mr Ahmadu is a strong believer is giving people and businesses the tools to empower themselves and leverage their talents, to becoming competitive innovators at a global scale.