One of Nigeria’s leading digital banks, Sparkle has raised $3.1 million in a seed round led by Leadway Assurance, Trium Network and other high net worth individuals to scale operations, according to the startup’s CEO, Uzoma Dozie.
The new fundraising was after the CEO raised $2 million in a pre-seed round from friends and family within the past year. Sparkle has now raised a combined $5 million.
Speaking on the startup, the CEO said Sparkle is different in the sense that it combines financial services with lifestyle to evolve with Nigeria’s need digital lifestyle.
He said “We’re quite different in a way because instead of separating financial services from lifestyle, we’ve tried to bring them together, especially as we’ve seen that more people are beginning to lead more digitally-led lives,” CEO Uzoma Dozie stated in an interview with Techcrunch.
“It means that we don’t see our customers from accounts, payments, deposits or credit perspectives, but from how can we help them do what they want to do at any particular time.”
Unlike other digital banks operating in Nigeria, Sparkle is serving both individuals and businesses on its platform. While digital banks like Kuda, VBank, Carbon, etc are offering tailored services to only individuals, Brass and Prospa are the other two serving businesses and individuals like Sparkle.
“As a small business, I’m not carrying my bank account on my mobile. I’m carrying my business. So we are bringing everything about your business into one place so that you can do business wherever you are,” Dozie said.
“For individuals, we’re bringing everything into one place so that you can do what you want to do quite easily wherever you are. But the bottom line is that we’re providing you with the information that you need to take spontaneous decisions.”
With its microfinance bank license, the digital bank has partnered with Visa to ensure customers can make in-person and online payments. Other partnerships are with companies like Network International and PwC Nigeria.
Since launching in 2020, Sparkle has opened accounts for over 40,000 individual users and 2,000 businesses. The digital bank is however charging individual customers small fees to keep their accounts operational and plan to charge businesses for most features except taxation services.
Nigerian Mobility Startup, Moove Secures $20M Financing From BII to Scale Operations in Nigeria
Moove, a mobility fintech democratising access to vehicle ownership in Africa has secured US $20 million in a 4-year structured credit investment from British International Investment (BII), the UK government’s Development Finance Institution (DFI), formerly known as CDC Group.
Moove is democratising access to vehicle ownership by providing revenue-based vehicle financing and financial services to mobility entrepreneurs. The mobility fintech is creating sustainable employment opportunities to empower those otherwise excluded from financial services by embedding its alternative credit scoring technology onto ride-hailing, e-logistics and instant delivery platforms, and using proprietary performance and revenue analytics to underwrite vehicle loans.
Since its launch in 2020, Moove has rapidly expanded its operations within Nigeria and has entered into new African markets including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, as well as Europe, Middle East and Asia markets.
According to the mobility company, the collaboration between Moove and BII reflects BII’s focus on mobilising capital to build self-sufficiency and market resilience in Nigeria and improve access to inclusive economic opportunities while helping to catalyse the country’s boundless entrepreneurial ambition.
Investors King gathered that Moove was the first business to qualify for BII’s BOLD (Black Ownership and Leadership Development).
Speaking on the new funding, Ladi Delano, co-founder/ co-CEO at Moove, said, “we’re incredibly proud to welcome onboard a world-class partner such as BII, whose strategic support will play a key role in our mission to build the world’s largest integrated vehicle financing platform for mobility entrepreneurs.
“With our new funding, we’re now in an even stronger position to use our technology and productivity data in creating a more inclusive financing ecosystem, whilst also tackling the unemployment problem affecting over a third of Nigerians by generating the opportunity for more seamless and sustainable employment.”
The CEO of BII, Nick O’Donohoe commented on how BII’s new five-year strategy is driving its investment in the world’s first mobility fintech.
“Investing in the prosperity of Nigeria’s growing population requires innovative new partnerships that can leverage the country’s abundant capabilities and expertise. In Moove, BII has a partner that aligns with our commitment to back dynamic tech-enabled businesses that can help accelerate impact in Nigeria by strengthening the country’s informal transport industry,” he said.
“I am delighted that not only will BII’s investment help to create jobs and provide entrepreneurial self-starters with the means to own their vehicles, but Moove’s clear focus on gender diversity will foster inclusive economic opportunities for women, both within the company’s workforce and among its drivers,” he added.
Nigeria is the BII’s biggest investment market in Africa, with a portfolio of nearly US $570 million, through more than 100 businesses and 43 funds, which collectively support almost 45,000 jobs across the country in 2020.
MFS Africa Moves to Expand Operations, Raises Additional $100 Million
Africa’s leading payments start-up, MFS Africa has raised an additional $100 million in equity and debt to expand its operations across Africa and integrate into the global digital payment ecosystem.
The company has now raised a combined $200 million in its Series C round led by an African investment manager, Admaius Capital Partners. Also, investors like AfricInvest Five and CommerzVentures that participated in the first Series C round doubled down while Vitruvian Partners and AXA Investment Managers made the first investment in the company.
Stanbic IBTC Bank, a Lagos-based lender, and Symbiotic will finance MFS Africa’s debt.
Explaining the reason for the new investment, MFS Africa said the fund is meant to achieve four main objectives:
- To expand operations across Africa
- Integrate into the global digital payment ecosystem
- Expansion into Asia and create cross-border payments synergies with Africa via a joint venture with LUNa Partners
- And carry out its growth plans for BAXI, a startup it acquired late last year.
Last week, Financial Times reported that MFS Africa had acquired a U.S.-based Global Technology Partners (GTP) in a cash-and-shares deal estimated at $34 million, this acquisition set MFS Africa apart from other African startups and further highlighted the company’s acquisition for expansion strategy.
For instance, the BAXI acquisition has given MFS Africa access to the Payment Service Solution Provider (PSSB) and Payment Terminal Service Provider (PTSP) licenses. With the PSSP license, BAXI can build gateways that process payments for third parties and the PTSP license will allow the company to operate point of sale terminals for agency banking currently being pushed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Investors King stated.
Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou explained that the strength of MFS Africa is in digital infrastructure building and several initiatives to provide access to Africans at home and in the diaspora.
“The strength of our business model is grounded on building a lasting digital infrastructure that unleashes and simplifies economic activities across the continent through any-to-any interoperability,” Okoudjou said in a statement. “Our multiple initiatives and solutions are providing access to Africans, at home and in the diaspora. We are building MFS Africa into a safe, sound, scalable and high-impact pan-African payment infrastructure that will facilitate Africa’s rapidly growing commerce, both now and in the future.”
Kwik Secures $2M in New Funding Round to Extend Services
The startup which is also based in France was launched in Lagos in 2019 with last-mile delivery service offered to B2B merchants and from social vendors to e-commerce platforms.
According to thee startup founder and CEO, Romain Poirot-Lellig, Kwik will use the funding in this new round to add a financial solution to its existing offerings. Other investors in this round include Humla Ventures, Nabuboto, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Pulse Africa founder Leonard Stiegeler.
Having established in Nigeria, the startup sets itself up for competition from known names like GoKada who also have a remarkable presence with its last-mile delivery offering in many parts of Nigeria. However, Kwik has also had a remarkable run since it was established in 2019. The startups has also launched in Nigeri’s capital territory, Abuja, where it also boasts of more than 100,000 merchants who use the platform – both on web and its mobile application – to run a number of logistical, commercial and financial needs of their businesses. And according to Romain, there are more than 75% weekly active users on the app.
With the fund raised, the startup wantf to make do on what the founder had earlier said about its product when he disclosed that Kwik wants to “bring the informal economy into the formal economy,” by focusing on last-mile delivery, e-commerce (warehousing and fulfilment) and the proposed financial services it is about to add.
Speaking about the startup offerings, Romain said: “Our goal is for Kwik to become the prime app choice for African social vendors and traditional merchants going digital. Integrating delivery, payment and e-commerce tools seamlessly in one easy-to-use mobile app is a catchy proposition. This financing round will enable us to expand across all three key verticals and select geographic areas. We are purely a software company. We create a community and a matchmaking playground. We ensure that we enforce the rules of the playground, both on the merchants’ side and on the partners’ side. The financing part is the last part we’re building. For the moment, we connect riders and financing institutions that are willing to finance bikes. On top of that, we’re going to launch a B2B lending marketplace by the end of the year to enable merchants to get financing.”
Investors King also gathered that the startup is aiming to use the funds to acquire more customers and expand its reach beyond Lagos and Abuja with plans already on the way for Ibadan, Kano, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
Poirot-Lellig also disclosed that the company plans to increase the number of merchants on its platform to 800,000 by the end of 2022.
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