Why Does Rice Play Texas?

Why Does Rice Play Texas?Why Does Rice Play Texas?

This is the end-of-year message I sent to all Chipper employees globally. I am sharing it here publicly for everyone to read.

On a sweltering summer's day in Houston, Texas, just over 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous “Moon Speech” – in my opinion, one of the most powerful and memorable speeches that any human has ever delivered. The Sixties were an eventful time in the US, and this speech in 1962 was President Kennedy’s national call-to-action, to rally a nation behind the singular goal of putting a man on the moon, and establishing the US as the global leader in space exploration before the turn of the decade.

To put this timeframe in perspective, Wi-Fi hadn’t been invented yet, Microsoft and Apple wouldn’t be founded for another 13 years, and the internet wouldn’t come to life for another 20 years. The thought of not only sending a man to another celestial body but also bringing him safely back to earth wasn’t just audacious and crazy, it was scary. What I think is most powerful about President Kennedy’s Moon Speech, and what in my opinion makes it truly timeless, is that it so succinctly answers the age old question: "why do we do hard things?”.

When someone asks “why go to the moon?”, they may very well ask, “why climb Mount Everest?”, “why did Maijid and Ham start Chipper?”, “why does Rice play Texas?”. Why do we choose to do these things? Why pursue something incredibly difficult when clearly easier options are always available? Only in looking back and reflecting on the past do we start to understand why. For us at Chipper, looking back on these past 12 months and seeing how much we have accomplished and overcome allows us to understand and appreciate why we choose to do the hard things that we do.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things; not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” President Kennedy spoke these words into existence several decades ago, but they have echoed throughout the eternity of time with a perpetual relevance that is rare. When I think about 2023 at Chipper many thoughts come to mind, but mostly I think of 2023 as the year when we chose to do the hard things.

The past 12 months have tested our mettle, requiring us to show resilience through significantly challenging times, and in doing so we have become a more capable organization. We not only weathered various storms, but also achieved remarkable milestones that will be etched in the history of Chipper. We crossed new frontiers – officially launching Chipper in Rwanda, and successfully closed our acquisition of Zoona/Tilt in Zambia and South Africa, and welcomed their teammates onboard as the newest members of the Chipper family. 

We also doubled down on efficiency and execution, shipping several new products that will continue to position Chipper strongly in the African fintech space. The launch of Chipper ID was a groundbreaking achievement that reinforced our commitment to being at the forefront of putting innovation to work in Africa – a bold new approach that leverages the best of Chipper to tackle identity verification at scale in Africa in a way that has never been attempted before. We will see more and more of this in 2024 as we unlock new possibilities and create value for our business partners.

Seeing the real life impact our products have on millions of people is one of the things that fuels us through all the ups and downs. One such product this year has been our Chipper Visa Card. Because of all your hard work, Chipper is now the largest issuer of virtual cards in Africa, and in 2023 we hit the one million cards issued milestone, – the first fintech in Africa to reach this scale.

Chipper is a business of scale, and this shows up in every aspect of our business and operations. For context, we have over 10 million unique verified documents such as passports, national IDs, voter registrations etc, over 7 million unique image and video selfies, and hundreds of millions of phone numbers and email addresses. We process over 125K transactions daily, and over 300 million API calls every month.

I’d be remiss to talk about 2023 and not highlight one of our most important groups of stakeholders – our teams of employees around the world. Everything we have been able to do this year has been because of all the hard work of our global teams. Although we had to say goodbye to a number of teammates this year, we remain proud of their achievements and lifelong status as Chipper alumni. The fact that we are concluding the year with wins, learnings and goals to take into 2024 is a testament to the hard work and effort so many talented people have given to Chipper this year.

As we look ahead to 2024 and beyond, we do so as a more capable and focused organization than we have ever been. Chipper is a company of doers, and this year we tackled some of our most challenging hurdles yet. This year we leaned into that part of our DNA that embraces doing hard things. Throughout it all, our global teams have demonstrated exceptional resilience, finding paths to success and bringing us closer to delivering on our mission. 

Maijid and I are honored to be on this journey with you all. Happy New Year and see you all in 2024.

Onwards and upwards.