Dhaxle CEO Roger Yomba once worked as a consultant advising investment facilitation companies on the most effective ways to navigate the public-private partnerships necessary to do business in Africa. He also became active promoting the African renaissance, serving as the regional civil society coordinator for NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) as well as peacebuilding – serving as National Coordinator for West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP). Yomba’s journey eventually took him to the United States where he earned an MBA with a double major in Finance and Business Intelligence and Analytics from the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pa., and a certificate of executive education in Entrepreneurship from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While pursuing his education, Yomba started to hear familiar stories from his network about how difficult it was to support friends and family back home.
“Besides establishing a family and career in the adopted country, many are expected to share improved economic status with family members back home. Managing an investment project from thousands of miles away with limited ability to travel home for direct supervision is challenging. Most international workers incur exorbitant money transfer fees sending funds home and frequently lose part or all of the remitted funds.”
That support was often delivered via something the global financial community calls remittances – a $600B industry that facilitates the transfer of money by a foreign worker or citizen for household income in their home country. On average, 25% of remittances are used to invest in personal projects or savings. Research conducted by Pew Hispanic Center and the Multilateral Investment Fund found that in Mexico only 1% of remittances were used for investment while 78% were used for household expenses. Yomba and his partners ran a global survey in 2019 which revealed that 85% of money senders wanted to empower receivers as a way of avoiding multiple requests, 42% wanted to use these homeland investments as an alternative retirement plan, and 70% saw them as a vehicle to build their own financial sustainability. “I came to realize that my family members and friends on whom I was relying on to develop my investment, sometimes for their own interests, were not delivering,” Yomba says. “Many were unable to follow a timeline or report on the actions being conducted.” Yomba opened up to classmates, colleagues, and other immigrants and international workers. They expressed the same concerns with little variation. “I saw a pattern and an opportunity to do something that could help a multitude of people.” Yomba knew the solution wasn’t about making transferring money easier. There were already companies that specialized in global remittance. Fixing it meant solving the bigger issue of what happens after the funds are received back home. Based on experience, Yomba knew the status quo too often resulted in unmet and unrealistic expectations due to poor planning and allocation of resources; challenges around effective supervision, coaching, monitoring and reporting; an overwhelming and chaotic ecosystem; and mistrust, anxiety, and division among families. While taking an MIS course at Saint Joseph’s University, Yomba asked his professor to teach him how to do basic coding. Yomba wanted to see if he could come up with algorithms that would address the issue. What he began to realize, however, was that what someone really needed to build was a global platform developed, monitored, and supported by professionals instead of acquaintances and family members who typically are not knowledgeable in business or project management and whose interests don’t necessarily completely match those of the expat. That vision became a company Yomba named Dhaxle (pronounced: d-ax-l), a mash-up of dhanam, the Sanskrit word for money, and axle, the English word for the rod that allows a vehicle’s wheels to turn and supports its weight. In Somali language, Dhaxle also means inheritance. Yomba convinced two fellow Saint Joseph’s alumni to join him as co-founders: Andrew Wanjala, a Kenyan who had an MS in software engineering, and Hongru Guo, an MBA and doctoral student from China. Both co-founders had equally experienced the pain points addressed by Dhaxle in diverse ways.