Ivorian fintech Julaya gets $5M to become banking partner for businesses in Francophone Africa • TechCrunch
Ivorian payments-led fintech startup huraya Has expanded its pre-Series A funding by $5 million. The company, which provides B2B payments services to businesses in French-speaking West African countries primarily through mobile money channels, has raised a total of $7 million in this round.
2019, West Africa report The most active mobile money service in any region, with 56 million active accounts. In Côte d’Ivoire, one of the largest mobile money markets in French-speaking Africa, 75% of the population has a mobile money account, compared to 20% with a bank account.This is why Juliaya launched its services in the West African country and subsequently expanded to Senegal, where the mobile market penetration is around 80%, and other countries Omoa (West African Economic and Monetary Union) regions, where mobile money is also commonly used.
Small to large businesses in these countries can use the Juliaya platform to make bulk payments to other businesses and their unbanked employees through existing mobile money channels. But they now have access to more services, such as the startup’s prepaid card — issued by Mastercard — for corporate expense management.The cards are tailored for businesses’ travel needs, other online expenses, and easy import of transactions into their accounting systems, CEO Matthias Leopoldi told TechCrunch in an interview.
“Our feeling or strategy for cards is to be a full service. Because if you only have cards, I don’t think you can build a great startup with a lot of traction like you can in the U.S.,” the company’s CEO said. . Charles Talbot“The card payments industry, apart from South Africa and maybe a small part of Nigeria and Egypt, is a growing industry, and while you can grow a business in that, it’s almost impossible in our region [Francophone Africa]. “
Léopoldie said that in terms of revenue growth, offering cards — most of which are brick-and-mortar (at client request) — is not Julaya’s main strategy. According to him, it’s a switching cost strategy that differentiates the fintech from YC-backed competitors, which see cards as a key driver.
Over 40% of Julaya’s 500 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), startups, large corporations and government agencies use its enterprise expense management capabilities. Léopoldie said that while the most significant transaction volumes came from large and medium-sized enterprises, it was surprising that fintechs had seen more adoption among their traditional and non-digital smaller clients.
Over the past year, the Ivorian-French startup has also expanded its product range to include a “cash and collection” solution that allows for “fast and safe” cash collection, especially in the fast-moving consumer goods sector . Here, businesses can deposit cash for physical and field sales into their Juliaya accounts through a mobile money agent branch without having to go to the bank.
Last July, Léopoldie said the fintech was processing more than $1.5 million a month. Those numbers jumped fivefold to more than $7.5 million, with revenue up more than 500% year over year. Brands such as Jumia and Sendy are some of Julaya’s clients.
European venture capital fund Speedinvest led the pre-Series A extension in Juliaa. EQ2 Ventures, Kibo Ventures, angel consortium Unpopular Ventures and Jedar Capital, existing investors Orange Ventures, Saviu, 50 Partners and Ivorian business angel Mohamed Diabi and professional footballer Édouard Mendy also participated in the round.
Mendy’s involvement — his first in Africa and his second globally — underscores the growing involvement of athletes in Africa’s venture capital scene. This week, TechCrunch highlights Byld Ventures, a $15 million fund targeting African fintech companies. One striking observation in the news was the number of athletes participating as limited partners of the company. Some also made direct investments from various reports. Mendy is African, unlike the others who are mainly European. While he may be one of the first African athletes to back startups, Leopoldi believes there will be more examples in the foreseeable future.
“I think he’s a bit ahead of his time. We’re seeing football stars or high-net-worth individuals in the sports industry starting to realize that they need to invest in venture capital for two reasons. The first is that even if it’s a risky asset, it brings huge Second, they need to use their image to show that they not only care about their sporting career, but also want to be an inspiration for their home country. This makes a lot of sense for Edouard Mendy because he is Senegalese.”
Julaya has also received an investment from its CFO and country manager in Senegal. Proceeds from this round will help the fintech further its expansion plans in the French-speaking region of West Africa, as it plans to open offices in Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso, hire talent and facilitate product development.
Enrique Martinez-Hausmann, head of lead investor Speedinvest, whose portfolio companies are changing the way businesses operate in the complex payments landscape of French-speaking countries, which also owns high-profile players such as CinetPay and Bizao, said. “Going forward, the potential of Juliaya’s technology goes well beyond its payment capabilities, with the opportunity to become a close banking partner for West African companies,” commented Martinez-Hausmann.