Cameroonian fintech Ejara offering an investment platform that allows users to buy crypto and save through decentralized wallets has raised $8 million in Series A investment. The growth round was co-led by London-based venture capital firm Anthemis and crypto-focused fund Dragonfly Capital.
Anthemis‘ participation in this funding round is understood to be a follow-on investor having previously led the fintech’s $2 million seed round announced last October. However, participating VC firms in the latest financing round include other follow-on investors Mercy Corps Ventures, Lateral Capital, and Coinshares Ventures coupled with new investors like Circle Ventures, Emurgo, Hashkey Group, Moonstake, and BPI France. While ‘Jason Yanowitz’, co-founder of blockwoks happens to be one of the angels in this round.
The subject startup seems to “democratize access to investment and savings products across the region, using blockchain technology”. In the meantime, it launched savings product where it tokenizes government bonds as one of the ways it uses blockchain, hence, its crypto product was pivotal to the two-year-old startup raising $10 million within a short period.
Ejara’s CEO ‘Nelly Chatue-Diop’ and her co-founder ‘Baptiste Andrieux’ saw an opportunity to increase crypto activity in Francophone Africa by offering users in the region an option to buy, sell, exchange, and store their crypto investments. Unlike a good number of crypto platforms in Africa that offer custodial wallets to users, fintech Ejara offered customers the option of non-custodial wallets that ensure they could own and store their keys. This decision paid off, precisely at this time when the collapse of FTX and other crypto organizations continue to underscore the need for customers to prioritize privacy and ownership notably in the event of crypto and tokenized assets.
“When everyone was taking the other route and building centralized exchanges, we always thought that, if you want to own crypto, you need to own your keys. And that’s pretty much what’s saved us in turbulent times”, Chatue-Diop said.
The startup’s crypto product has really gained momentum in these regions where access to financial products is understood to be for the most informed and wealthy. Additionally, by connecting their mobile money accounts and accessing crypto, users will be able to make cross-border transactions via stablecoins. Based on this, users on the subject platform have grown in multiples over the last 14 months.
The platform is believed to be rapidly amassing users, which as of last October, had 8,000 users from Cameroon, its first market coupled with others from Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. Now, counts more than 70,000 users across nine Francophone African markets.
Judging by the pace at which fintech Ejara is going, it’s evident, users on the platform are expected to reach 100,000 by year-end despite crypto’s meltdown. In the same vein, Chatue-Diop – also noted that Ejara has seen revenue growth of 10x and achieved a 15% month-on-month transaction volume growth. Ejara further explained that its savings product, which it referred to, in a statement, as the first of its kind in the crypto world, was launched to get it there.
“In an ecosystem where many people around the world are trying to find use cases for blockchain technology, Ejara has demonstrated that startups in emerging markets are likely to pioneer many such innovations in web3”, the company noted.
Noting that users are not required to set up a bank account to access savings product but can ultimately begin the journey with Ejara by downloading its app and depositing a minimum of 1,000 CFA franc (~$1.5), and users can earn up to 10% interest on their two-year deposits on the platform.
“The competition for treasury bonds is with the traditional asset managers and banks. And given the way they are structured, they mainly target high-net-worth individuals and institutions like other banks or insurance companies”, Ejara’s CEO commented. “Nobody is targeting the women selling the markets or the man driving a motorbike for a living. And because we structure the product the way we do, we have many people come to our platform because they can save up to 1,000 CFA franc daily”.
Responding to Ejara’s potential, ‘Ruth Foxe Blader’, partner at Anthemis stated: “Conscious of the challenges across the zone, Ejara does not intend to limit itself to being a crypto app, but rather to become a one-stop-shop for products tailored to the needs of Africans: a shop where a suite of financial products will be accessible at their fingertips, without the need for any crypto knowledge”.
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