October 6, 2023

Ghanaian Fintech Dash Is Reportedly Shutting Down After Raising Over $85M In Five Years

Ghanaian fintech startup Dash is reportedly closing its doors following a tumultuous journey filled with accusations of financial misconduct.

According to WeeTracker, Dash held a company-wide meeting on October 3, during which the news of impending layoffs and the closure of the company was delivered to its employees.

The innovative startup, which offered an alternative payment network, had raised over $85 million in under five years from major investors.

Early success

Founded in 2019 by Prince Boakye Boampong, Dash initially made significant strides in the fintech sector.

Boampong was a well-known serial entrepreneur in Africa, having co-launched OMG Digital, a Ghanaian media startup backed by Y Combinator (YC), in 2016.

Dash, under his leadership, experienced rapid growth and secured substantial funding from notable investors.

In March 2022, Dash raised $32.8 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by Insight Partners, the second-largest deal of its kind. Dash was Insight Partner’s first lead investment in Africa.

TechCrunch reported this valued Dash at slightly over $200 million, making it one of the most valuable fintech startups in Africa.

Dash also secured $20 million in debt capital from TriplePoint Capital last October. 

The fintech claimed to have processed transactions worth $1 billion by 2021 and reported a user base exceeding one million in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya.

This amounted to a four-fold increase in transactions and a five-fold boost in the number of users in the space of five months.

A fall from grace

Dash’s troubles began in March 2022, when it was forced to stop its operations in Ghana. The Bank of Ghana stated that the startup had been providing its services without regulatory approval.

In January of the following year, Boampong was temporarily suspended from his role as CEO amid allegations of financial impropriety.

Sources told TechCrunch that Dash’s internal operations were marked by a culture of concealing financials and described a chaotic work environment where employees were let go at will.

The board did not address the allegations against Boampong, but stated that he was being placed on “indefinite administrative leave on January 24, 2023, pending a forensic financial audit of the company.”

Read: Are Fintechs The Key To Financial Inclusion In Nigeria?

Kenneth Kinyua, the former CEO of Kopo Kopo, a Pan-African payments business, took Boampong’s place as the interim CEO.

The results of the audit were not made public, but WeeTracker reported that the investigation revealed elaborate fabrications intended to mislead investors.

WeeTracker also claimed that a subsequent audit revealed a shortfall of at least $25 million, with Dash’s reported burn rate of $500,000 per month exacerbating the financial difficulties. Dash’s operations spanned five countries, contributing to its high overhead.

The publication also reported that Boampong was earning $50,000 per month and had allegedly diverted at least $8 million for personal use, including property and luxury vehicles.

Boampong has not publicly addressed these allegations.

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)