Story by Suzi Morales
Image Courtesy of Startup Academy
“Dot" gives students in Africa cashless experience.
Like many young adults in Africa who go abroad for schooling, Abdulrasaq (Dulra) Amolegbe ’26 found that he needed to conduct most transactions in cash. As a student at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Nigerian-born Amolegbe often had conversations with his peers about the high barriers to accessing electronic banking, which resulted in not only inconvenience but also safety issues.
When he was still in high school, Amolegbe founded Dot, a fintech startup to provide financial solutions to international students from Africa who faced the cash-only challenge. Now a sophomore, he has drawn on the resources available through Lehigh Business to refine and develop the Dot app. In the spring of 2023, he was awarded the Joan F. & John M. Thalheimer ’55 EUREKA! Award for student Achievement in venture creation and the Thalheimer Grand Prize of $5,000. He is the first freshman to receive either award, and the first to receive them together at the same time.
Best of Both Worlds
As a young entrepreneur in the early stages of a startup, Amolegbe faced the dilemma of whether to pursue his venture or set it aside to follow his academic ambitions. At Lehigh, he found he was able to choose both.
“Lehigh is where I believe I’m meant to be,” Amolegbe says. He feels this way, he explains, “because of the seamless integration between academics and entrepreneurship.”
The app is currently in a private launch phase, being tested by international students, mainly in South Africa. Amolegbe plans to launch publicly in late 2023.
Amolegbe credits much of his recent progress on the app to the support he received through the Baker Institute. For example, he frequently participates in the institute’s monthly pitch nights, winning each of the six times he’s pitched. He also received grants and office space through the Lehigh Ventures Lab, which launched in 2022 to provide entrepreneurial support to students and recent alumni as well as full-time founders.
“Tons of Opportunities”
“The university has redefined a lot of my assumptions about being in school and also running a startup,” Amolegbe says. “The institution has given me tons of opportunities and they’ve built an incredible ecosystem that simplifies the process of working both as a full-time student and an entrepreneur.”
When he arrived on campus, Amolegbe says he had many ideas for developing the app. Working with mentors at Lehigh has helped him to find his focus and clearer direction. For now, Dot’s target customers are South African students. Eventually, Amolegbe hopes others with electronic banking challenges will be able to use the app.
“I want to see Dot used by millions of students on the African continent, but I also want to expand to the immigrant population—immigrant workers, asylum seekers—and to other countries beyond South Africa,” Amolegbe says. “My hope is that by the time I graduate, Dot will be a household name for the immigrant population within the African continent.”