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Crypto Savings and Loan Platform Ledn Raises $30 Million in Latest Funding Round

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Ledn a global digital asset platform offering innovative saving and lending products for Bitcoin and other digital assets is pleased to announce the completion of a $30 million Series A financing round led by Kingsway Capital, with participation from new investors including Alan Howard, Hashed, Susquehanna Private Equity Investments LLLP, ParaFi Capital, Alexis Ohanian, and John Pfeffer.

All investors from Ledn’s prior round including White Star Capital’s Digital Asset Fund, Coinbase Ventures, Global Founders Capital and CMT Digital also participated to fuel Ledn’s growth.

Ledn has grown its assets on its platform by over 320% since its last round, just six months ago. Proceeds of the round will be used to grow Ledn’s team and global presence, as well as continue to enhance Ledn’s technology and product offerings. Additionally, Ledn’s investors bring regional-specific expertise that will enable Ledn to achieve its mission of unlocking the power of Bitcoin and other digital assets to build wealth through innovative financial products.

“We are building a world-class company to help people globally unlock the power of the fastest-growing asset class for building generational wealth,” says Adam Reeds, Ledn co-founder and CEO. “With this new injection of capital, we will expand on our success in North & South America and grow our global footprint, prioritizing growth markets. Our focus is to build simple and secure solutions that allow clients to participate in the growing digital asset economy in a way that meets their individual needs and our own rigorous standard for security and reliability.”

“We prioritize the needs of the people we serve, investing in solutions like proof-of-reserves to protect them, and provide assurance that all of our lending activities are covered by real assets,” said Mauricio Di Bartolomeo, co-founder, and CSO. “Growing up in Venezuela, I saw first hand how an unregulated system with little to no transparency can impact its people, and that’s why it’s such a core component of how we manage the funds our clients entrust to us.”

Ledn also recently launched Ledn Trade, a service that enables clients to exchange between USDC and Bitcoin, specifically catering to clients in growth markets who wish to quickly move between the two digital assets. The product-market fit of Ledn’s services to date is evidence of a growing global demand for this kind of innovative digital asset solution.

“Having spent nearly a decade investing in emerging and frontier markets, we’ve had first-hand experience witnessing the power of disruptive technologies delivered to billions of consumers coming online for the very first time,” says Manuel Stotz, founder of Kingsway Capital.

“The emergence of digital assets, whether via Bitcoin or USD Stablecoins, is perhaps the greatest opportunity for financial inclusion, as well as an opportunity for a more decentralized and thus more equitable global internet. We are proud to support the talented team at Ledn in making this vision a reality and are honored to co-invest alongside such a world-class roster of global investors.”

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Fund Raising

Wicrypt, Nigerian Wi-Fi Sharing Startup Secures $1.5M Funding For Expansion

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A Nigerian blockchain-based Wi-Fi sharing startup, Wicrypt, has raised US$1.5 million in a strategic funding round to help it expand operations into new countries.

Wicrypt is a decentralized mobile internet sharing and monetization network that allows anyone to earn money by sharing their Wi-Fi with others. Users can either download the Wicrypt software and deliver Wi-Fi from their mobile device or purchase a one-of-a-kind Wicrypt Hotspot Creator device.

Wi-Fi providers can customize their customers’ experiences using the Wicrypt dashboard, which includes surveys, ads, and data collection. Wicrypt-enabled devices are all represented by one-of-a-kind NFTs linked to the blockchain. While users using WiFi pay Wicrypt hosts, Wicrypt also rewards hosts with its native coin, $WNT, for having high device uptime.

In 2018, the startup launched in Africa, signing an exclusive agreement to supply internet service to the inhabitants of Enugu, Nigeria. It became profitable in 2020 after being bootstrapped by its founder, and it has now acquired US$1.5 million in investment to help it go even further.

The round was led by AU21 Capital, with participation from Polygon founder Sandeep Nailwal, Inclusion Capital, Outlier Ventures, Chain Capital, Pluto Digital Assets, Onega Ventures, N7 Labs, Cardano and PolkaFoundary.

“While we have formed substantial business partnerships in Africa, this funding allows us to grow into new countries by increasing our marketing efforts,” said Ugochukwu Aronu, chief executive officer (CEO) of Wicrypt.

“Wicrypt is providing last-mile internet to people of the world who need it while leveraging the blockchain by having hosts stake $WNT to become a part of the Wicrypt Network. This ensures overall security of the network and that host do not perform malicious actions while providing internet connections to clients.”

Wicrypt is offering people the option to access the internet in locations where Wi-Fi can be highly expensive and unattainable for many people, according to Nailwal, who added that investing in a profitable company was unusual in the blockchain world.

“By empowering people to share their Wi-Fi and make money, they are making this a win-win situation for all involved, particularly in remote regions where large internet companies are not incentivised to provide coverage,” he said.

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Fund Raising

E-commerce Startup Sendbox Raises $1.8M to Digitise Deliveries for African SMEs

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Sendbox, the Nigeria-based e-commerce fulfilment platform for merchants in Africa, has announced the completion of a $1.8 million seed round from investors, including 4DX Ventures, Enza Capital, FJLabs and Golden Palm Investments.

With participation from Flexport and YC Combinator as part of its 2021 winter cohort, Sendbox’s total investment raised has now reached $2 million following a pre-seed round from Microtraction and 4DX Ventures in 2018.

Starting with logistics and fulfilment, Sendbox is building the operating system for e-commerce in Africa. Launched in 2018, the company provides affordable access to local and international delivery options for small-scale merchants selling on e-commerce and social media platforms. Accessible to iOS and Android users, via the web application, on Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and other e-commerce platforms, and through developer APIs, Sendbox is providing a single location to manage both local deliveries and international shipments to the EU, UK, US and Canada.

To date, over 10,000 Nigerian SMEs have sent 200,000 products through Sendbox, saving on average 30-40 percent per item by eliminating the need to work with separate logistics providers. Through its delivery management platform, which aggregates logistics providers and enables tracking, the company also offers a solution for merchants who lack the high volumes required to attract discounted delivery fees.

The next stage of the company’s growth will see a move towards financing & payments, followed by e-commerce & marketplace integrations across West Africa and further afield. According to the company, the new funding will be used to expand the company’s operations in other countries across West Africa, bolster the development of its product range, and hire new talent.

Commenting on Sendbox’s fundraise and growth ambitions, Emotu Balogun, CEO and Co-Founder of Sendbox said, “No matter where in the world customers are, we want African SMEs to be able to reach them.” He continues, “Deliveries in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan have made up a large proportion of business for our domestic merchants. On top of that, affordable access to the UK, EU, US, and Canada has created an opportunity to sell products to hundreds of millions of previously unreachable buyers. With this fund, we aim to support more and more SMEs and help them grow both locally and internationally, scaling alongside them as we connect African merchants with a global community of consumers.”

“African e-commerce is accelerating faster than anybody could have imagined a decade ago, and it needs smart solutions to ensure that logistics and fulfilment capacity doesn’t lag behind,” said Walter Baddoo, Co-Founder and General Partner at 4DX Ventures. “Not only were we impressed by Sendbox’s 300 percent year-on-year growth since launch, but we’re seeing the market potential balloon with over 40 million Nigerian SMEs and a projected industry value for social and e-commerce reaching $45 billion on the continent by 2025.”

Prolific mobile penetration on the continent, the rise of social media and knock-on impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted additional momentum towards e-commerce and social commerce, doubling monthly revenues for Sendbox since March 2020.

Made in Africa products are now in higher demand across local and international markets. With 200 million Instagram users and 1 million Instagram businesses in Nigeria alone, Sendbox is well-positioned to serve this growing market and multiply its merchant count over the coming months.

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Fund Raising

Flutterwave Eyes $3 Billion Valuation Ahead of Another Fundraising

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Flutterwave, one of Nigeria’s tech unicorns, is presently in talks to raise an additional fund at a valuation of $3 billion or even more, according to a Bloomberg post.

The figure would triple Flutterwave’s last valuation of $1 billion.

Operating from both Lagos, Nigeria and San Francisco, US, Flutterwave held discussions with potential investors recently, the people familiar with the ongoing discussions stated. They explained that terms of funding are yet to be finalised and that it is likely to change.

The talks were led by the company Chief Executive Officer Olugbenga Agboola. In March, the company announced it has hits unicorn status after raising $170 million in a round led by Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC. Other investors were DST Global, Greycroft, Insight Partners and Salesforce Ventures.

In the same March, the company announced a partnership with Paypal Inc. to enable its global customers to pay African merchants using Flutterwave’s platform.

Founded in 2016, Flutterwave facilitates cross-border transactions across Africa for companies including Facebook Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Booking.com. As of March, the startup said it had processed more than 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion in aggregate and that its revenue had risen at a compound annual growth rate of 225 percent between 2018 and 2020.

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