With over ten years of professional experience in the accounting sector, Babatunde Akin-Moses knows quite well the challenges faced by SMEs in their search for bank loans. Sycamore was launched to address some of those challenges. 

Babatunde Akin-Moses (photo) is a Nigerian entrepreneur and co-founder of risk assessment startup Sycamore.ng. 

Co-founded in 2019 with Onyinye Okonji and Mayowa Adeosin, the startup allows access to quick and collateral-free personal loans via its web and mobile platform available on PlayStore and AppStore.  Through the web and mobile app, users can also lend to friends and families and automatically collect their dues at specified amortization dates.  

Sycamore was launched to allow SMEs access to credit since they are usually unable to borrow from banks due to stringent conditions. 

“...If you are in other countries, once you have a job, you can easily get a mortgage. But here in Nigeria, even if you are working, you need to be working for an upstream oil and gas firm or basically earning a lot of money before you can access a significant credit facility without having to present a landed property as collateral. You can see how that’s a major problem in a country where there are 100 million poor people,” explains co-founder and CEO Babatunde Akin-Moses. 

As the CEO of Sycamore.ng, Babatunde Akin-Moses completed a seed-funding round whose amount was not disclosed. With the proceeds, the startup will build awareness in the Nigerian market where it is the only startup in the peer-to-peer lending segment. It will also invest in financial education, boost its human resources and expand to other African countries.  

The co-founder holds an MBA from the Lagos Business School. His professional career started in 2010 with a business analyst position at Shell Nigeria. One year later, he joined KPMG as a tax analyst. In 2014, he was hired by PwC as a tax consultant and then as a Tax academy deputy.  After five years with PwC, he was recruited by Pezesha as a finance and strategy manager. He left four months later to co-found Sycamore. He is also a member of the board of  Profiliant Development Resources, a B2B sales, and marketing consultancy firm. 

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

In Africa, most firms and individuals face credit challenges because traditional banks are more inclined on lending funds to governments, large firms, and high net-worth individuals. In Nigeria, Lendsqr wants to address that issue by decentralizing credit access for individuals. 

In Nigeria, fintech startup Lendsqr wants to solve credit problems. With its eponymous cloud platform, the startup founded in 2018 by Adedeji Olowe (photo) facilitates loans to small firms and middle-class individuals. 

At Lendsqr, we’re on a mission to simplify the lending process with an easy, but sophisticated technology that can guarantee an awesome lending experience. We strongly believe that our technology will solve the credit gap in developing countries and improve the lives of millions,” the startup promises. 

With its cloud platform, it automates the loan process, allowing lenders to personalize, manage and optimize their offers. To access its services, borrowers must register and confirm their identities using official documents. 

Lendsqr is currently more focused on small firms. Its ambition is to help them get access to the credit they need for their development. It has no mobile apps but, it is accessible through a USSD code that allows users, those living in remote areas notably, to easily request loans. In March 2022, the startup raised US$1 million to support its growth. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

With an extensive professional career in several countries, he is certain that financial literacy is key to helping populations avoid debts. With Alvin Technologies, he is planning to do just that in Africa.

Winston Reid (photo) is a Kenyan entrepreneur who founded fintech startup Alvin Technologies in 2021. With its smart money management app, his startup helps users manage their income and savings. It helps them develop personalized budgeting plans, eliminate unnecessary expenditures, and monitor all the money outflows to avoid going into debt.  

Through Alvin Technologies, he also  provides banks and fintechs with “powerful API features to help them drive better customer engagement and money habits via their own apps.” 

The Diplomacy and Global Politics graduate (B.A. from the University of Miami in 2014) founded Alvin Technologies to improve financial literacy in Africa and give Africans tools to “balance their daily spending with their savings goals.” 

In January 2022, Alvin secured a US$740,000 pre-seed fund in a round led by Nigerian firm Ingressive Capital. With the secured funds, Winston Reid plans to hire more staff and boost Alvin Technologies’ positioning in Nigeria, in the second half of 2022.  

We’re excited to have such mission-aligned partners and strategic angels onboard the Alvin journey to help us build an even more intuitive and powerful personal finance app for all of Africa faster and more efficiently. This capital will enable us to hire key personnel quickly and scale faster as we transition from the private beta stage of the Alvin App v1: Labrador to the first public version of Alvin later in the quarter,” Winston said. 

The techpreneur has over ten years of professional experience, in the finance sector mostly. In 2011, he joined Vector Marketing as a field sales advisor. Months later, he entered the communication industry as an English communication consultant for Shan Herald News Agency before notable positions in the agritech and edtech sectors in the U.S., Senegal, Nigeria, Thailand, and Kenya.  

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

With his over seven years of entrepreneurship experience, Aminu Ibrahim Bakori successfully entered the fintech segment by offering solutions to a crucial problem faced by businesses: card issuance. His startup developed an API that allows businesses and individuals to issue payment cards within days instead of the usual weeks or months waiting times that are the standards with banks. 

In January 2021, Aminu Ibrahim Bakori (photo, right) and Kabir Shittu (photo, left) founded fintech startup Sudo Africa in Nigeria. Barely 18 months after its launch, in March 2022, the startup came under the spotlight by raising US$3.7 million in pre-seed funding. During the funding round, participating investors included notable names like Global Founders Capital Picus Capital, LoftyInc Capital, Rallycap Ventures, Kepple Africa, Berrywood Capital, ZedCrest, and Suya Ventures. 

With the proceeds of that round, Sudo Africa plans to consolidate and develop its operations. The startup offers an API enabling the quick issuance of virtual and physical payment cards in Nigeria. It was founded to reduce the always long-waiting of firms and businesses that want to issue payment cards for their staff or clients. 

At some point, we wanted to issue cards and worked with one of the local banks in Nigeria. (...) They got to print up to 1,000 cards, but it took a lot of time and none of them functioned because the bank wasn’t able to provide any APIs for us to either manage the cards or even control the usage of those cards. That was the first time we came around, thinking about how to issue cards,” explains Sudo Africa’s co-founder and CEO Aminu Bakori. 

The young entrepreneur holds a BSc in Statistics from Ahmadu Bello University (2015).  He presents himself as “a passionate computer science student, programmer, and developer” who loves “ developing web applications and windows html5 apps, (...) Microsoft technologies and teaching others how to use technology for good use.”  

In 2013, while still at university, he founded Friendstie, a social network for tech enthusiasts. Some four years later, he founded Payant.ng, a startup offering SMBs and freelancers the means to issue invoices, send payment reminders, and collect payment directly into their bank accounts wherever they are. 

Melchior Koba 

Published in TECH STARS

In Africa, startups are developing digital solutions to facilitate the daily life of the population. Local startup Sticitt is doing the same in South Africa’s education sector. 

South African startup Sticitt launched, in 2018, a comprehensive cashless payment solution, Sticitt Pay, to ease payments in various sectors. 

The startup was co-founded in 2017 (according to company insight platform Crunchbase) by Dennis Wevell (photo, center), Mitch Dart (photo, right), Theo Kitshoff (photo, left). 

It serves several clients, including lifestyle and golf estates, however, it is renowned for its services in the education sector. It allows parents and students to pay school fees and contributions for school-related activities. Through its communication feature, it also allows parents to track learners’ progress. 

According to co-founder and CEO Theo Kitshoff,  “Sticitt Pay [...] offers schools an integrated smart payment system that is safe and easy to use and is the first important step in our journey to simplify education-related payments and building toward a youth banking alternative.”

Just after the launch of Sticitt Pay, the three co-founders signed a deal with edtech d6 Group to gain access to a prospective list of 2,000 school clients through the partner’s network. 

Currently, the startup claims 791 schools contracted, 97,650 accounts created and 677,096 learners reached. It further reveals that in the first quarter of 2020, it processed transactions totaling US$616,000 for 400 schools. 

 Its ambition is to add more features to its platform and extend its reach to cover SMEs operating in the education ecosystem. For the founders, the startup is already at the post-revenue stage but it should strive for sustainable growth in the ecosystem. 

For that purpose, in March 2022, it completed an oversubscribed seed funding round. The amount raised was not disclosed but, for Sticitt director Dr. Eugene van Rensburg, with the funds, Sticitt will “accelerate its product development, schools deployment and significantly contribute to the upliftment of learners, their parents, and schools.” 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

In Africa, the low bancarisation rate, combined with the digitalization fever, offers a fertile ground for the development of fintech startups. 

Yoco is a South African fintech startup co-founded in 2013 by Katlego Maphai, Carl Wazen, Bradley Wattrus, and Lungisa Matshoba.  Through its platform, it allows entrepreneurs to accept card payments. In 2017, the startup launched an eponymous mobile app to serve more clients in the local market. 

The platform allows Yoco clients to collect card payments but, it also gives SMEs the possibility to get cash advances to develop their businesses, through Yoco Capital. With Yoco Capital, the South African startup aims to help SMEs that are unable to get loans from traditional institutions develop their operations with no worries about deadlines, interest rates, or even defaulting risks and their consequences.  

“We understand that accessing capital is one of the hardest challenges faced by small business owners. It's also one of the biggest reasons why small businesses remain small. We continue to offer solutions that leverage smart technology to help small businesses grow,” indicates Yoco co-founder Katlego Maphai. 

Yoco Capital is accessible to eligible Yoco merchants only. Within one day, applicants can receive the loans requested. The amounts granted can range from ZAR2,500 (US$160) to ZAR75,000 (US$4,800). 

Since its creation, the startup has completed several funding rounds. The latest is a Series C funding round completed in July 2021. During that round led by Dragoneer Investment Group, Yoco raised US$83 million “to accelerate product development.”

In 2021, the startup claimed it had 150,000 businesses in its portfolio with 500 new merchants adding to that portfolio daily. Currently, the startup plans to expand into new African markets. Indeed, 90% of SMEs operating on the continent are small businesses. Yoco’s offers will be highly valuable to African entrepreneurs. 

In 2017, Yoco was selected by CB Insights as one of the top 250 financial technology companies in the world.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

In the past few years, global leaders in on-demand transportation have heavily invested in African markets. Bolt, Yango, and Uber are notable names but, their solutions are sometimes not efficient. Local startups like Moja Ride are building their solutions to address those minor inefficiencies.   

Moja Ride is a Mobility-as-a-Service startup launched, in 2017, to make life easier for Ivorians. In March 2021, the startup created by Jean Claude Gouesse (photo, center), raised an undisclosed amount from Mobility 54, a venture capital fund set up by Japanese firm Toyota. 

The eponymous platform developed by the startup is an alternative to ride-hailing giants operating in Abidjan. With its platform, Moja Ride wants to offer an urban mobility solution to its users but it also wants to help them build a network by offering simple, affordable, and efficient alternative mobility solutions. 

The app allows ride-sharing between friends, neighbors, and co-workers to help save on daily travel expenses. It also allows transport operators to easily manage their fleets and routes. 

Each of the rides planned through Moja Ride is insured for up to XOF2 million for individual accidents and up to XOF300,000 for healthcare coverage.  

To facilitate payments, Moja Ride developed an internal solution based on the payment network Visa and fare collection O-City’s systems.  To access its services, users just have to download the mobile app from AppStore or PlayStore and fill in a set of information. Its revenues come from commissions generated on rides booked and payments collected by drivers.  

 In October 2020, Moja Ride was selected to participate in the Africa Tech Summit Connects, a competition offering startups the possibility to raise pre-seed, seed, or Series A funding. 

In 2021, the startup was claiming over 1,200 taxis and buses available for booking through its platform in Abidjan. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Credit card network VISA inaugurated its first African innovation hub in Kenya yesterday April 6. Based in Nairobi, the facility will serve as a framework for accelerating payment technology research in the sub-Saharan African region. It will be a mentorship hub for developers creating solutions that can revolutionize payments and e-commerce. 

The studio will also help Visa clients and partners operating in Africa expand their services and access technological tools that will help them overcome some of the key challenges in their business environment. 

VISA’s Nairobi innovation hub will now join the global network of innovation hubs operated by the credit card network since 2016. Currently, that global network is made up of hubs in Dubai, Singapore, San Fransico, and now Nairobi. 

“Sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with a tech-savvy population. As we continue to grow digital payments adoption in the region, our aspiration is to deepen our collaboration with clients and partners in developing solutions that are designed around the unique needs of Africa,” says Aida Diarra (photo), Senior Vice President & Head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa.  

In the past five years, the African fintech segment has recorded strong growth. Startups operating in that segment attracted the highest volume of investments, reflecting local populations’ interest in practical, customized, and affordable financial solutions. 

For VISA, investing in that segment is a strategic move to consolidate its presence and market share. According to the credit card network, the Nairobi innovation hub will explore ideas that can support the growth of emerging payment systems such as contactless payment and cash on delivery. The hub will also explore the development of smart payment solutions that leverage blockchain, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, and biometrics.

Muriel Edjo

Published in Finetech

Although the fastest growing in the World, the African startup ecosystem is still faced with fundraising difficulties, the early-stage segment notably. For Nigerian entrepreneurs Benedict Afolami and Ose Eromosele, Conectivest may be the solution to that problem.  

The finance industry has no secrets for Benedict Afolami (photo, left) and Ose Eromosele (photo, right). With over 15 years of combined professional experience in technology and finance, they have had time to identify the issues faced by fundraisers in Africa and the gaps between investors' and entrepreneurs’ expectations. 

They created Conectivest to tackle the various problems they identified during their professional career. Officially launched in June 2021, the digital platform facilitates investments by networking investors and entrepreneurs. According to the founders, successful fundraising always starts with perfect alchemy between investors and the fundraiser.  

“It’s an investment networking space that facilitates founder to founder connection; investor to investor connection; hub to founder connection and investor to founder connections,” explains Benedict Afolami, Co-founder and CEO of Conectivest.

Conectivest offers a quick way for founders, hubs, incubators, and investors to connect and exchange ideas. It helps startups fine-tune their profiles. It also allows investors to manage their deals and investments.  Through weekly demo days, Connectivest allows entrepreneurs wh are ready to raise money to meet with investors.

In less than a year, the founders claim to have onboarded more than 350 active Africa-focused investors from three major investment groups, including LoftyInc Capital Management, Midlothian Angel Network, and South-South-East Angel Network. Through Conectivest, the said investors have directly or indirectly completed more than 50 deals totaling US$2.2 million, they told TechBuild Africa. 

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS

Less than two months after raising $10 million, mobility fintech Moove Africa secured additional resources to fund its expansion on and off the continent.

Moove Africa, a Nigerian-created  fintech company that makes it easier for African entrepreneurs to access financing for new vehicle purchases, announced on Monday, March 14, that it raised $105 million in equity and debt in a Series A2 financing. The deal brings to $174.5 million the total funds raised to date by the company founded in 2019 by Nigerian-born Britons Ladi Delano and Jide Odunsi.

“Less than two years ago, we discovered this white space of mobility fintech and launched Moove. After surpassing 3 million trips in Moove-funded vehicles across Africa, rolling out our service in six new African cities, and connecting mobility entrepreneurs to the ride-sharing, e-logistics, and delivery markets, we are now leading this growing Fintech sector... We are thrilled to have the support of investors around the world who will help us take our model to the world,” commented Ladi Delano.

This new fundraising comes less than two months after Moove Africa obtained a $10 million financing facility from UAE-based investment firm NBK Capital Partners. The money, raised on 1 February 2022, was aimed at supporting the West African expansion of Uber's exclusive partner for vehicle financing and provisioning in sub-Saharan Africa.

The mobility fintech plans, over the next six months, to continue its expansion into seven new markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The company, which is present in six African cities, also intends to build new partnerships while expanding its range of vehicles.

In Africa, less than 5% of all new vehicles are purchased with a loan compared to 92% in Europe, Moove Africa complains. On the continent, the vehicle ownership rate is below 44 cars per 1,000 people, compared to 640 per 1,000 in Europe and 816 in the United States, the mobility fintech continues. According to the company, Africa’s low ownership is due to a low penetration rate of borrowing, which it believes has limited the ability of more than 1 billion Africans on the continent to purchase new vehicles. According to Ladi Delano, millions of entrepreneurs in emerging markets have limited or no access to vehicle financing, even though the market opportunity is vast. The two-wheeler rental market is estimated at $80 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, according to data provided by Moove. Yet the continent recorded fewer than 900,000 new vehicle sales in 2019, compared to 17 million in the United States.

Chamberline MOKO

Published in Finetech
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