Maijid Moujaled is a Ghanaian technologist who was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. He currently serves as the Co-founder and President of Chipper Cash, a platform that facilitates money transfers within Africa and Europe. Having been in the tech sector for more than 10 years, including his schooling days, Maijid Moujaled has previously had an opportunity to work at Yahoo, Flickr, and Imgur.
Early Life and Schooling
Maijid Moujaled spent most of his early days in Accra, Ghana. Owing to the way he led his early life back in Accra, Maijid describes himself as an individual who always had the “builder spirit.”
“So, I was born and raised right here in Accra in Ghana. And I would say my whole life I’ve definitely been in that builder category. So, I think probably the engineers among your audience, I’ll probably relate more to them. I would break toys and fix them and put them back. That’s classic.”
Maijid Moujaled also acknowledges that his entrepreneurial spirit spins back to when he was in middle school. He took advantage of the availability of large amounts of candy at his home to make a few coins out of them.
“And I think the first time I ever sold something was actually in my middle school… My mother worked at the customs so she had a bunch of candy that she would bring home. And these are mountains of candy that we couldn’t have eaten it all in my family. And so, I would take a whole bag of those to school and I had a friend and I would work with that friend and we would just sell them to the students. And then we would actually make money.”
With a clear vision of what selling things could earn them, the entrepreneurship spirit continued to foster between Maijid and his friends. A few years later, the two saw an opportunity in the tech sector which they grabbed and forged ahead with. Maijid and his friend would download video games, add them on floppy disk drives and sell them to their schoolmates who did not have access to the internet. The business was catchy at the time since most people had to use cybercafes to access the internet.
While in high school, Maijid Moujaled participated in a high school exchange program which allowed him to move to the US and study at North Muskegon High School in Michigan in 2008. On completion of his high school studies, Maijid traveled back to Ghana, with new aspirations to pursue a career in medicine and become a doctor. Soon after, in 2010, he joined Grinnell College in Iowa, in the United States where he stumbled upon Computer Science after being discouraged to study only science disciplines.
“I wanted to take all sciences and she [an advisor] said, “No. You cannot take all sciences. You have to be more liberal.” And so, I could only take one math class. And then I somehow stumbled upon this computer science program.”
Upon joining the Computer Science program, Maijid worked at the help desk in his first year, which gave him as much satisfaction as he would have gotten being a doctor. Apart from working as a Helpdesk Manager, Majid also worked as a Technology Consultant Co-Ordinator and Grinnell College.
“My first year I was at the help desk, and so, it was literally the same thing where people come in, they’re sick with their Macs and their laptops, and I fix it, and they’re happy and healthy again. And it was like wait, I give people this feeling as if I was a doctor without going to school for eight years. So, that was a transition into building things using technology. And that kind of kicked off actually building stuff.”
While in college, Maijid Moujaled developed an intense desire to start a company. However, being an international student, starting a company at the time was practically impossible. To satisfy this urge, Maijid co-founded a student group, Grinnell Appdev, which focused on building various apps for college students to use.
“We want to create a program that (1) has a mentorship environment with a community to learn, grow, and get internships or jobs and (2) creates homegrown products that are useful to the Grinnell community.”
The student-run organization managed to bag $150,000 from the college’s Innovative Fund which aimed to support the training of students. It was during his time at Grinnell Appdev that he met his current cofounder and friend Ham Serunjogi, a Ugandan student studying Economics.
Right after college, Maijid Moujaled delved into the tech sector, taking along opportunities that would grow his expertise in tech. In July 2014, he joined the Yahoo Mobile Team as an IOS Software Engineer and worked on Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Sports. During the same period, he also doubled up as an IOS Software Engineer at Flickr. In June 2015, he joined Imgur as an IOS Engineer.
However, during his time at Imgur, he experienced a career-threatening situation where his stay in the US would be determined by the H-1B visa. Ideally, the H-1B Visa is a temporary visa category that permits employers to champion highly educated foreign individuals to work within the US in “specialty occupations.”
“It was in between Imgur that I had this life where I had to basically leave the country because the H-1B visa was a lottery and even though Imager wanted me and I wanted to stay, there was no way to do it because the random number generator is about to decide my fate. “
While waiting for the final response on the H-1B visa, Maijid Moujaled weighed out several other options that would help him stay in the US and continue with his aspirations to start a company. Among the options was going back to grad school. Finally, Maijid settled on doing Remote Year in 2016 as a plan B. He applied to the program and was 1 out of over 300,000 applicants who managed to get in. The program allowed him to travel across the world while working remotely for Imgur for one year. While he was at it, the company engage a team of skilled lawyers who made it possible for him to get back into the US.
Maijid Moujaled founded Chipper Cash in January 2018, alongside co-founder Ham Serunjogi. Chipper Cash is a financial technology company located in San Francisco, California that supports free Peer-to-peer (P2P) Cross-border transactions across 7 African countries: Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, and South Africa. The platform also enables businesses to process both online and in-store payments through the company’s merchant-focused product, Chipper Checkout. Chipper Checkout is a fee-based Consumer to Business Product (C2B) that helps the company to generate revenue.
As the founder of Chipper Cash, Maijid Moujaled developed the idea behind his company while doing Remote Year. As he travelled across the world, he noticed the differences in how people completed transactions in different counties. While some countries were heavy on cash transactions, others relied heavily on card transactions. He also became more aware of the reliance on cash transactions back in his home country, Ghana. He also noticed that there were fewer efforts to digitalize money back home.
Although he saw a great opportunity to venture into this new-found idea, Maijid had to treat it as a side hustle since he was still working for Imgur at the time. However, he always allocated some time to work on different aspects bit by bit.
“Every single day you’ve just gotta show up and make something one percent better. So, that was how I was able to build the core of Chipper Cash while travelling. It was like okay, today I’m just gonna comment on this code. Whatever it is, every day I would touch this code base. Even if I only write one line. And so, that adds up because that’s the one percent.”
While working on building Chipper Cash, Maijid Moujaled and the co-founder Ham Serunjogi, also noticed how limiting it was to send money from one African country to another.
“We have PayPal, Venmo, and Square Cash and all the services. Why don’t we have that for Africa? There’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”
With a clear problem at hand, Maijid and Ham then capitalized on Chipper Cash to become a medium of financial transaction from one country to another. Even with no experience in the banking sector, they focused on building software that would revolutionize mobile money transactions within Sub-Saharan Africa.
To fund the creation of Chipper Cash, Maijid and Ham then got into the ‘500 Startups” accelerator program. Here, they pitched their business idea to a team of renowned investors in Silicon Valley and American footballer Joe Montana. Collectively, Chipper Cash raised a seed round of $2.4 million. The company was then officially launched in October 2018.
Over time, the company has also benefited from the backing of notable investors who have collectively made total funding of $302.2 million within 6 funding rounds. Apart from the investors in Silicon Valley and Joe Montana Fund, other noteworthy investors, such as VISA and Bezos Expedition have backed up the business idea. In April 2019, the company partnered with VISA which led to the raising of $13.8 million Series A within the same year. Later in 2020, Chipper Cash raised a $30 million Series B funding round which was led by Ribbit Capital alongside the participation of Bezos Expeditions.
Since the launch of the company, Chipper Cash has witnessed a tremendous growth trajectory and raised the bar higher for black excellence. According to Apple.com, the company’s app had grown to over 700,000 users by the end of 2019. Currently, the app has over 3 million users with more than 80,000 daily transactions.
Leadership roles and Awards
Maijid Moujaled is the current President of Chipper Cash. He was also named in the Global Top 100 Under 40 of 2021’s Most Influential People Of African Descent (MIPOD). While working on different college apps at Grinnell College, Maijid developed the G-Licious App which won the Golden Disk Award after its launching in Google Play, iTunes, and Microsoft Windows Stores.
Maijid Moujaled is the epitome of giving back to society through innovation and technology.
Maijid Moujaled is part of our Black Founders50 Series. Download the complete 2023 BBVA Founders50 list here.