Vesti’s Olusola Amusan is helping Nigerian students migrate abroad with loans, payments, advice

Godfrey Elimian
Vesti is helping students from Nigeria migrate to UK, US and Canada with loans
Vesti is helping students from Nigeria migrate to UK, US and Canada with loans

One of the pillars of the Nigerian dream is to relocate abroad, and the easiest way to migrate to greener pastures is with a study visa. In my final year, a typical conversation among my peers was about how to follow up on our bachelor’s degree with a postgraduate abroad.

If you were not looking to ‘japa’, it was probably due to financial constraints. This is the story of many Nigerian youths, who cannot pursue their dreams due to a lack of funds. A recognised need to help immigrants get all the needed advice and finances to help them pursue their future outside the country’s shores facilitated the creation of Vesti.

Vesti was founded by Olu and Abimbola Amusan, two Brothers who self-migrated to the United States of America from Nigeria; the platform provides unique guidance and financial services for people who want to follow in their footsteps and relocate from Nigeria.

Olusola Amusan, CEO and co-founder of Vesti
Olusola Amusan, Vesti’s CEO and Co-founder

According to Olusola Amusan, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Vesti’s origin can be “traced to several years ago when I won the Global Students entrepreneur award as a student, I was supposed to go get the award and compete at the global finals in Kansas, in the US, but I couldn’t even get a Visa date.

So many years later, I eventually went to the US in 2015 while I was working with Microsoft. I was considering relocating to America, but I was only a few years into my role at Microsoft, so I had to stay on that for some time. Then in 2018, a mentor told me about a special talent visa I had qualified for many years before but didn’t know about it…so I applied, got the approval and moved to America with my family.

When I relocated, I resigned from my role at Microsoft to build a software engineering marketplace, only to discover the incredible challenges immigrants faced. So it was as a result of these challenges that immigrants face that we created Vesti.”

Currently, over 21,000 people use Vesti for relocation to the US, UK and Canada. According to Olu, recently, the company celebrated the 1300 families that have moved through one of its services (education, work visas or express entry).

Although the government has taken it upon itself to enact policies that prevent many Nigerians from leaving the country to reduce the ‘brain drain’ in the country, Olu maintains that the government should incentivise people not to move if it is becoming a concern. Afterall, relocation is a fundamental charachter of humans who are nomadic by nature.

We spoke to Olusola Amusan in this instalment of Founders Spotlight, and the co-founder shared his insight on the immigration trend in Africa, his philanthropic experience with Microsoft, his key interest in AI and Vesti’s mission to helping youths achieve their educational pursuit abroad.

Read also: “We can laugh about it now” ThriveAgric’s Uka Eje on how the company survived the COVID-19 troubles

Inspiration behind Vesti

The Amusan brothers realized that many people were in the same position they were after moving abroad. They discovered that there was a surge in the number of people needing an advisory-like seminar on how to relocate and many had difficulties paying for the fees required for migration services, especially tuition.

In October 2020 after the EndSars protest, we organised a webinar that got about 6000 people to attend, and we had a telegram group that was growing massively where we provide free advice for people looking to migrate. However, we realised that a lot of people wanted to make payments for migration-related services but they couldn’t. So we started making these payments for them.

When the traffic the telegram channel generated was becoming too much to process manually, an app had to be created.

Now people make payments through our platform, but also they get access to information, community and ultimately a smooth transition to the US, the UK, Canada and all the countries we are now supporting. 15 months down the line, the platform has over a 120,000 users and has processed over $15 million.

Olusola Amusan
Olusola Amusan

Philanthropic role at Microsoft

Amongst the many endeavours and experiences that exposed Olusola Amusan to being people-oriented was his role at Microsoft, where he was the philanthropic leader. The role involved designing an engineering skills program that used the value of Microsoft’s extensive technology to make people more employable.

In that role, he also worked with USAID, the GIZID, and multiple governments to design programs and partnerships with Microsoft. He claims these various exposures and relationships, especially with the German government that dealt with regular rather than irregular migration, gave him an insight into the massive gap and skills around the direction people were moving.

Definitely, that exposure gave me superior insight into what was really going on in the space, what skills are needed and the needed gap that needs covering.

Olusola Amusan

Scope and Coverage of Vesti

Any prospective student offered admission to further their studies in the US or UK qualifies to benefit from Vesti’s services. However, the platform is divided into migration and financial services to define the coverage and scope properly.

From the migration services standpoint, we allow people from 130 countries to be able to register on the platform and are able to migrate to their destination countries (UK, US and Canada). This is because these three countries are the top three destination countries that people are moving to on our platform.

From a financial services standpoint, because it requires a lot of regulation, money transmission, and money service business, we are currently active in Nigeria and in the United States, but now we are expanding to Ghana, Mexico and Zambia and we are finalizing all the regulatory work that is needed for these locations“, he added.

Olusola Amusan, Vesti's CEO and Co-founder

Vesti student loans

Suppose a survey was carried out today to determine how many Nigerians were actively pursuing a Visa to the United States or the United Kingdom, it would likely survey would reveal that more than half of Nigerian graduates residing in the country are actively seeking to move.

With the solution to the major challenge of finance, Vesti is now making it easy for students to obtain a loan with the promise to pay back and commitment to that promise.

We ask that the individuals must have been offered admission into an eligible US university or Canadian university we support (There is a list), he or she must also have obtained a credit report from a credit bureau in Nigeria, usually the CIC.

The students must also have a valid resume and then they should have the information about how much they would be needing for the school. All they need to do is complete their application on our app, that is after they have downloaded and completed their KYC and get ahead with their application. then we would run the credit algorithm and determine who qualifies, “ he says.

On how the company ensures that these students don’t default on their loans payback, Amusan says that the platform has been configured to give access to established financial institutions that already have a structure for working with defaulters.

He says, “We are targeting to provide loans to 200 initial students that are going this Fall, deploying about $4 million. That is what we plan for this particular fall because we just announced a loan about a month ago and our prayer is that we are able to deliver on this. Right now we have about 1500 students in the application pipeline.

On whether there are plans for scholarships in the future, Olu says, “It is some of the things that the company is discussing internally, to decide scholarship program that they can extend to candidates, but he can’t say candidly on whether the company would be offering that yet.”

Funding for Vesti

Undoubtedly, support and substantial investment are necessary for the survival of any strategy that aids in facilitating access to credit for people. To achieve this, Olusola mentioned that the business has obtained a total of $1 million in equity funding.

In debt funding and the ability to deploy, we have partners that provide finances that help us run programs like loan services. Recently, we partnered with Stripe, Affirm and Klarna. So what we have access to is more than what we have raised.

Olusola Amusan

Although he did not mention the partner, he disclosed that one of their partners recently raised $150 million to provide student loans, and the company is taking a fraction of that.

Olu Amusan; the AI engineer

Olu is a major proponent of AI. He even authors a book on one – ‘The A-Z of Artificial Intelligence’, so if someone can render an opinion on one, he most definitely qualifies. When questioned on his thoughts about AI and the scepticism around the future of work for humans, this is what he says.

I don’t see AI as coming to sweep away all the jobs, I see it as transforming how we do each of these jobs. There would be new job titles that we have to adapt to, there would also be new work cultures to adapt to and we have to be ready for it, because the limits of humans are being pushed right now.

He adds that he believes it is a development that should be welcomed, even with the fears that come with it. “It is important to maintain a healthy scepticism, but it is also important to not allow our fears to take advantage of us”, he says.

Vesti’s team

Vesti’s long-term plans

The Migration industry is currently a big one in Africa globally. African migration has been on a steady upward trajectory for the past two decades. But, according to Olu, Vesti’s objective is about consolidating the current strategy to be the go-to platform for financial and legal support around migration.

In the next year, we want to see ourselves grow from being an underdog to becoming a household name. We want many people to know about us and be there for people who are future generations.

Olusola Amusan, Vesti’s Co-founder

Within the coming year, we hope that we get our platform to over a million people, this year our target is to get half a million. We also hope to open doors in many other countries and give access to people to be aware of the different methods to move abroad“, he added.

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