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Fintech Startup Bitmama Closes $350k Pre-Seed Funding Round

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Nigerian fintech startup Bitmama has closed a US$350,000 pre-seed funding round to grow its operational presence, expand its team, and penetrate new markets across the continent.

Launched in 2019, Bitmama provides a secured blockchain infrastructure that allows users across Africa to transact Bitcoin, Ethereum, Celo and six other cryptocurrencies. With users across Nigeria and Ghana, Bitmama has recorded more than US$6 million in transaction volume this year alone.

Simultaneously, the startup’s payment solution Changera enables cross-border payment and remittance for businesses and individuals in Africa and globally. Bitmama plans to scale both solutions more widely after securing US$350,000 in pre-seed funding.

The round was led by Flori Ventures, with participation from Emergence Capital, Fedha Capital, and a host of VCs and angel investors, and Bitmama will use it to expand its operations and team.

“We believe the continent’s crypto landscape will experience massive growth in user base and trading volumes in the next couple of years and we are aiming to build an efficient blockchain infrastructure that is firm and flexible enough to help users navigate complexities and facilitate secure cryptocurrency transactions across the continent,” said Ruth Iselema, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Bitmama.

“Most importantly, we are thrilled to have strong financial backers with global credibility and track records, who are keen on supporting our mission to ensure crypto and cross-border transactions across Africa are done efficiently and safely for users and businesses.”

Maria Alegre, general partner and co-founder of Flori Ventures, said her firm had partnered with Bitmama to help the startup with its growth journey.

“We are particularly interested in projects that explore universal basic income, community commerce, community currencies, natural-capital-backed currencies, accessible DeFi primitives, earnings platforms, peer-to-peer marketplaces,” she said.

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Fund Raising

The Africa Blockchain Center (The ABC) Raises a 7x Figure Seed Investment from Next Chymia Consulting HK Limited

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The Africa Blockchain Center (The ABC), a Kenyan startup focused on building technology capacity and offering blockchain solutions to key sectors announced today that it has raised a $ 7x figure investment from Next Chymia Consulting HK Limited, an Asian based company that provides blockchain solutions, consultancy services and training to global entities.

Founded in September 2021, The Africa Blockchain Center’s mandate is to propel Africa into the adoption of 4IR (fourth industrial revolution) technologies by building capacity in blockchain programming and catalyzing industry readiness; offering solutions to enterprises seeking to explore the technology, and incubating blockchain startups.

This investment will help The ABC set up structures across 6 markets in Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa and build a community of blockchain stakeholders for knowledge sharing and best practice guidelines.

The Founder of The Africa Blockchain Center Irene Kiwia said “we understand the potential that blockchain has in solving some of the challenges that are facing Africa and we believe that we can use our disruptive nature as a continent to create value for ourselves through the adoption of the technology. However, there is a massive capacity gap that we must fill to accelerate this. We aim to train 10,000 blockchain programmers, 5000 business leaders and executives on blockchain readiness, incubate 50 blockchain startups and launch robust solutions for the market in the next 2 years.”

The ABC aims to demystify blockchain technology and create platforms where the industry can learn, run research programs (R&D), launch blockchain solutions and access blockchain as a service for various applications across industries and sectors.

“The African continent has a massive untapped appetite to understand, learn and experiment with decentralized technologies. This, coupled with the opportunities that the market presents in applying blockchain technology in key sectors like finance, agriculture, health and general governance makes the center a timely intervention.” Further stated Kiwia.

The ABC is an Adanian Labs startup, the Pan African smart technologies venture studio with a mission to build, nurture and scale 300 impact driven tech startups across Africa.

The CEO of Adanian Labs John Kamara said “We are extremely proud to see such progress with our startups. We pride ourselves in providing the right environment, tools and resources to support startups and help them build scalable solutions. The ABC is very timely as Africa is exploring the potential for smart technologies in support of its 4IR efforts. Adanian Labs will continue to work with the Africa Blockchain Center and support its roll out across the continent.”

The female economy is at the center of The ABC’s mission. The ABC will have a special gender lens to ensure that women are an integral part of this transformation.

The CEO of Next Chymia Consulting HK Limited Kenji Sasaki said “We are delighted to support and partner with The ABC, their model is groundbreaking on how they want to scale blockchain technology in Africa, and we have confidence in the team. We are aligned in vision as well as our commitment to building blockchain capacity and providing blockchain solutions to key industries. We want to champion good governance for blockchain and we see the appetite and gap in Africa where this cutting-edge technology can solve some of the inequality issues that will catapult the economic growth of the continent.”

Driven by the desire to train African Blockchain engineers to solve African problems, the center aspire to create a space for collaboration where multi-industry stakeholders from development partners, civil societies, entrepreneurs, academia, government, private sectors, and all industry sector players can harness the common good of decentralized technologies in enhancing health, agriculture, education, good governance, financial independence and general economic growth.

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Brass, a Nigerian Fintech Startup, Raises $1.7 Million

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Brass, a Nigerian fintech startup, providing financial services to small and medium businesses in Africa’s largest economy has secured a $1.7 million funding round to scale its operations, support local entrepreneurs, traders and fast-growing businesses.

Founded in July 2020 by Sola Akindolu and Emmanuel Okeke. Brass offers a series of products tailored to address the needs of small businesses. For instance, it offers credit and payment services, payroll and expense management, API support, cash-flow analytics, team and contact management, other core business services such as POS, debit and credit cards — all wrapped around a business bank account.

“There are many ways money can get out of the business, be it payroll, vendor payment, invoicing. We want to support businesses’ cash flow; we want to support them in those areas to make sure that money keeps running and they can keep growing their business,” Akindolu said, describing Brass’ application. “So that’s, for the most part, what we’re doing with Brass today: financial operations and cash flow support.”

Of all the services it offers, Brass believed its Brass Capital, which provides working capital and software services to businesses, will edge other offerings in the long run. Within the first six months of launching its beta, Brass Capital disbursed more than $2 million in credit to customers.

It presently has over 5,000 customers ranging from schools and malls to restaurants and fintechs such as Eden and Mono, which use its complete banking solution. And unlike other platforms, Brass is trying to optimize its platform for different levels of businesses with varying needs at the same time.

“What we’ve set out to do is to build stacks of financial operation services. We may be overkill for a micro business; they might not find us useful, so we’re more concerned about small and medium-sized businesses.”

The fundraising was led by pan-African VC firm Ventures Platform. Other investors include Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Paystack co-founder Ezra Olubi, Hustle Fund, Acuity Ventures and Uncovered Fund.

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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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