Bankly, a Nigerian fintech startup digitizing cash for the unbanked, announced that it has closed a $2 million seed round.
The funding round was led by Vault. Other investors who took part in the round include Plug and Play Ventures, Rising Tide Africa, and Chrysalis Capital.
Bankly was founded in 2018 by Tomilola Adejana and Fredrick Adams and one of its objectives is the digitization of the informal thrift collections system common in Nigeria and popularly known as esusu or ajo.
Nigerians have patronised the thrift banking system for many years and although there are many variations of the practice, the daily payment of specific amounts to thrift collectors as savings, mostly by traders and artisans, is the most notable.
It is interesting to note that although the system is popular among the unbanked populations, it is also embraced and patronised by many people who use regular bank services. This is in defiance to the well-known drawbacks that beset the system, the most important of which is the loss of a contributor’s savings when the thrift collector dies, absconds or blatantly embezzles the funds in his/her care. There is also the problem of proper recordkeeping since records are mostly manually kept.
Bankly is helping unbanked populations by digitizing the entire money collection process and allowing users to save their money using online and offline methods. The business has a distribution and agents network that makes it easy for customers to deposit and withdraw cash with its agent, anytime.
What they are saying
Idris Alubankudi Saliu, partner at Vault said, “Given our over twenty years experience in Nigeria’s fintech industry and previous exits, we strongly believe that Bankly understands the nuanced needs of this market — not to mention the team, strategy, and technology — to succeed in bringing affordable financial services to the unbanked. We are delighted to participate in this financing round as Bankly moves into its next growth stage.”
“We’re thrilled to have closed this milestone fundraise and to have such seasoned fintech investors who understand the market join us on this journey to banking Nigeria’s unbanked. Now we have built the agent network and are poised to serve customers directly via offline and online channels. Partnerships, collaboration, and a deep understanding of the needs of the unbanked will be vital to our success,” Tomilola Adejana, CEO of Bankly said.
DEAL: Shyft Power Solutions raises $3.1m Seed Round to push affordable energy
The funding round was led by the SoftBank Vision Fund’s Emerge Program and Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures with participation from other investors.
SHYFT Power Solutions, which builds IoT and software to optimize distributed energy resource performance and operational efficiency in emerging markets, has announced an additional $3.1M in funding to bring its total seed round to $3.8M.
The funding round was led by the SoftBank Vision Fund’s Emerge Program and Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures with participation from other investors including Lofty Inc, Samurai Ventures, and Urban US Ventures.
SHYFT was founded by Stanford’s engineers to address the challenges in delivering and scaling clean, reliable, and affordable energy solutions in emerging markets that struggle with unreliable grids or energy access. SHYFT’s initial focus is in Nigeria, a country set to be the 3rd most populous after China and India, but were an unreliable grid has led to widespread dependence on generators, accounting for nearly 8x the capacity of the grid.
SHYFT is pioneering the digitization of the energy landscape in emerging markets like Nigeria. Its asset management solution delivers an integrated approach that uses algorithms to monitor, automate, and optimize how assets, as well as grid connections, are utilized individually and as an integrated system, aggregating a plurality of data streams while doing so.
By increasing visibility and control, the system helps users to make informed decisions about which sources they use, how long they use a source, and when they switch sources. This enables operators to scale distributed systems in a cost-effective way, particularly in remote markets. It has resulted in operators improving RoI, reducing emissions, mitigating downtime, and reducing operational costs, in some cases by up to 57%.
SoftBank Vision Fund’s Emerge Program was established in 2019 to provide select startups with access to the tools, networks, and support to take their business to the next level. Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures is focused on finding, funding, and fostering high-potential startups which will contribute to creating a low carbon future.
SHYFT plans to use this new funding round to double its team in West Africa over the next year with a focus on developing AI capabilities to use its data and algorithms for system optimization. The company will also look to build corporate partnerships and expand to additional African markets facing similar energy challenges.
SHYFT’s customers and strategic partners include some of the largest and fastest-growing alternative energy companies in Nigeria, including Daystar Power Solutions and Aspire Power Solutions. After passing critical IEC safety testing for their controllers, the company began ramping up sales across Nigeria over the past year with their customers. Today, they have over 2,000 kW of assets being managed by SHYFT technology and expect that to increase ten-fold by the end of 2021. Nearly every major bank in Nigeria has a branch using SHYFT technology, creating a path for SHYFT and its customers to deliver reliable power to the nearly 5,000 branches in the market.
What they are saying
Ademidun Edosomwan, Managing Director, Emerging Markets at Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures (TCNV), said: “Energy is an essential need for all, yet it is estimated that more than 3.5 billion people globally lack access to affordable and reliable electricity. SHYFT’s technology will play a critical role in a global movement to democratize the way people manage their power sources. They’ve developed data-driven software that enables homeowners and businesses in emerging markets to make smarter decisions on their energy use in order to cut costs and reduce emissions. We are delighted to support SHYFT’s momentum as Ugwem and the team continues to expand their impact and help build a better energy future for the world.”
Ugwem Eneyo, Co-Founder & CEO SHYFT said. “I founded SHYFT to build the technology that can enable and accelerate this transition, and ensure that on the path to reliable energy access, the use of cleaner solutions can mitigate carbon emissions as well. We are fortunate to have investors supporting us where their sector and global experience will be invaluable.”
DEAL: Nigerian fintech software provider, Appzone raises $10m to scale its products and services
Appzone platforms are used by 18 commercial banks and over 450 microfinance banks in Africa.
Appzone a fintech software provider that builds proprietary solutions for financial institutions and their banking and payments services announced that it has closed $10 million in Series A investment.
The Series A round was led by CardinalStone Capital Advisers, a Lagos-based investment firm. Other investors include V8 Capital, Constant Capital, and Itanna Capital Ventures. New York-based but Africa-focused firm Lateral Investment Partners also participated.
Founded in 2008 by Emeka Emetarom, Obi Emetarom, and Wale Onawunmi, Appzone functions as an enabler (at payment rails and the core infrastructure) within banking and payments.
Appzone platforms are used by 18 commercial banks and over 450 microfinance banks in Africa. Together, they amass a yearly transaction value and yearly loan disbursement of $2 billion and $300million.
Before now, Appzone closed a $2 million deal from South African Business Connexion (BCX) in 2014. Four years later, it raised $2.5 million in convertible debt and bought back shares from BCX in the process. But overall, the company says it has raised $15 million in equity funding.
This new funding will be used to scale its products and services and expand across more African countries. The startup also plans to achieve scale by growing its engineering team.
What they are saying
Yomi Jemibewon, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cardinal Stone Capital Advisers, said the firm’s investment in Appzone is further proof of Africa’s potential as the future hub of world-class technology.
“Appzone is building a disruptive fintech ecosystem that will be the backbone of Africa’s finance industry with products across payments, infrastructure, and software as a service. The impact of Appzone’s work is multifold — the company’s products deepen financial inclusion across the continent whilst providing best-fit and low-cost solutions to financial institutions. Its emphasis on premium talent also helps stem brain drain, rewarding Africa’s best brains with best-in-class employment opportunities.”
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