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Pan-African fintech Appzone secures $10-million 

Appzone has secured $10-million in a Series A round of funding led by CardinalStone Capital Advisers with participation from V8 Capital and others.

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Based in Lagos, Appzone, a Pan-African fintech software provider that creates proprietary solutions for Africa’s banking and payments industry, has secured $10-million in a Series A round of funding led by CardinalStone Capital Advisers with participation from V8 Capital, Lateral Investment Partners, Constant Capital, and Itanna Capital Ventures.

Appzone secures $10-million in funding

Obi Emetarom, co-founder and CEO of Appzone comments on the funding raised.

“We’re excited not only to be securing a significant capital raise, but also welcoming on board some strategic investors whose support will be key to our growth journey. Today’s news allows us to scale Appzone’s products and services rapidly. For the last 12 years, we’ve worked in stealth mode, building the really complex infrastructure to power the continent’s growing digital financial services space and forging partnerships with the continent’s biggest financial institutions.”

The funding will be used towards Appzone’s core technologies and the expansion of the platform to promote the digitisation and automation of the delivery of financial services in Africa.

Emetarom adds that the funding will help the fintech to increase its team member size and range of employed experts to elevate the platform’s current offering.

“In terms of next steps, we are now looking to hire from Africa’s top 1% to grow our team of elite talent who have proven themselves to be true African builders; the brightest senior software engineers and domain experts, doing the incredibly hard work of building the backbone andnext-generationn infrastructure for digital financial services at a level beyond world-class. We are seeking out gifted and audacious engineering and entrepreneurial minds, hungry to accelerate economic prosperity and tackle challenging technology with us. We are not just trying to bring African fintech on-par with the rest of the world – we exist to make our financial sector the most innovative and technologically advanced on the globe through solutions built for Africa by Africans.”

Appzone

Founded and launched in 2008, Appzone provides products for digital core banking and interbank transaction processing with clients across multiple African countries.

Appzone claims to have served 18 commercial banks and over 450 microfinance banks and amassing a yearly transaction value and yearly loan disbursement of $2-billion and $300-million.

The products designed by Appzone assist African banks in addressing several challenges such as legacy cost structures and lack of operational efficiency. As there is a lack of African-based solutions, Appzone has created a solution catering to African banks, mitigating the blocks existing with African banks opting for foreign technology solutions.

With a track record of excellence in the fintech space, in 2008 Appzone obtained official approval from the Bank of Nigeria to operate as a Payment Solution Service Provider (PSSP).

Yomi Jemibewon, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cardinal Stone Capital Advisers provides closing remarks on why the VC invested into Appzone.

“Our investment in Appzone is further proof of Africa’s potential as the future hub of world-class technology. Appzone is building a disruptive FinTech ecosystem that will be the backbone of Africa’s finance industry with products across payments, infrastructure, and Software as a Service. The impact of Appzone’s work is multifold – the company’s products deepen financial inclusion across the continent whilst providing best-fit and low-cost solutions to financial institutions. Its emphasis on premium talent also helps stem brain drain, rewarding Africa’s best brains with best in class employment opportunities.”

Read more: Kenyan fintech tech startup secures funding to regionally expand
Read more: Ghana healthtech secures $1.5-million in funding

Featured image: Founders of Appzone (Supplied)

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/04/pan-african-fintech-appzone-secures-10-million/

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Wayja releases SA’s first peer-to-peer betting app

Wayja launches its cashless peer-to-peer betting app, available on the Wayja site and on all major app stores by December 2021.

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Joburg-based startup Wayja launched its cashless peer-to-peer betting platform earlier this month. The application allows users to connect with friends and make cashless wagers on anything, from anywhere.

Officially founded in 2020 by Reece Jacobsen and Clinton Holroyd, the startup has thus far been funded by seed capital from the founding team but will look to additional funding rounds as the platform scales.

Betting big on peer-to-peer growth

The SA gambling industry is currently estimated at R30-billion and Wayja fully intends to infiltrate the market. Wayja CEO Reece Jacobsen explains that the idea for the platform grew out of a simple human insight.

Peer-to-peer betting is fast overtaking more traditional forms of gambling

“Everybody loves that feeling of winning bragging rights over your peers. We see countless bets being placed in everyday situations between friends, colleagues and counterparts. If you’ve ever been in an office pool on Superbru, making bets on the golf course, or even if you’re making bets with friends over who will be the next to get married – then this is for you. Wayja is there to make informal betting simple, quick and cashless.”

Globally, peer-to-peer betting is fast overtaking more traditional forms of gambling. With the popularisation of cryptocurrency and online marketplaces, recent trends reflect that Gen-Z no longer places their trust in middlemen but prefers complete control of financial transactions. Wayja allows users to connect directly with potential opponents without the help and inevitable cost of a bookie.

Co-founder Clinton Holroyd clarifies: “The potential for scale is what makes this such an exciting venture for us – we’re already making headway into switching Wayja on in key international markets such as the US, UK, India, and Nigeria all while gaining further traction here within the South African market.”

Jacobsen is optimistic about the startup’s growth so far. “Our first few weeks in business have been very encouraging and has strengthened the conviction that we’ve built a platform that is filling a gap in the market. We believe that these early sign-ups will snowball as more people get exposed to the platform. The informal bet against friends is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, but Wayja truly brings it into the modern era,” he says.

The application is immediately available on the Wayja site and will be available for download on all major app stores by the end of 2021.

Read more: EXPLORE Insights offers 24-hour data analytics services for SMEs
Read more: How to Secure Funding as an SME [Opinion]

Featured image: Reece Jacobsen, Founder and CEO of Wayja (Supplied)

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/sa-startup-wayja-releases-peer-to-peer-betting-app/

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Spot Money app launches stokvel feature

Spot Money has released a shared wallet feature on their fintech app, Spot to create transparency for shared financial investments like stokvels.

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South Africa’s newest digital banking platform, Spot Money has launched a shared wallet feature on their fintech app, Spot. The feature is a digital solution that seeks to create transparency for shared financial investments, like stokvels.

New Shared Account feature

The Spot app offers customers transactional banking; a free monthly account and a marketplace for everyday needs. With the new Shared Account feature, up to 10 people can manage their finances easily through a shared wallet. There is no monthly account fee, which allows for accessibility at every income level.

The Spot Shared Account feature allows up to 10 people to transact transparently

“Fintech is pioneering the way that the financial management needs of stokvels are serviced. The adoption of such technology is being driven by young, urban populations, with many members using modern financial technologies to better manage their investments,” says Josephine Mbire, Head of Customer Support at Spot Money.

The stokvel savings concept has seen increased legitimacy in recent years, operating just outside the financial sector and financing households throughout Africa for decades.

Nearly 12 million South Africans belong to these informal savings clubs where members take turns to receive a fixed amount of money. Stokvels finance groceries, school supplies, household appliances and attract about R50-billion a year in investments, making them a legitimate vehicle driving our country’s economy.

“There has long been a need amongst stokvel members for greater transparency of where their money is going, and assurance that it’s being handled prudently. Traditionally, one person would collect all the money, and they would effectively hold all the power over how and when payments would be made, with other members having little insight into the movement of their investments,” explained Mbire.

The app’s scan-to-pay feature means that stokvel members won’t risk carrying big cash amounts when making group purchases. Users can also earn instant cashback rewards into their Spot Rewards wallet when shopping at partner stores such as Checkers, Shoprite & USave.

“Until now, shared accounts meant a primary account holder would provide limited access to chosen beneficiaries. Our approach makes all account holders equal partners and gives everyone full sight of what’s going on in the account: they can see who paid and received money and are able to top up and make payments out of that account through a range of channels,” said Mbire. ‘Stokvels have been around forever, and it’s high time the formal financial sector started catering to them. We believe Spot offers stokvels a great way to manage their money more effectively.”

Read more: Expert tips for SMEs this tax season
Read more: Initiative provides SMEs with free logo design and business support

Featured image: John Schnobrich via Unsplash

“Fintech is pioneering the way that the financial management needs of stokvels are serviced. The adoption of such technology is being driven by young, urban populations, with many members using modern financial technologies to better manage their investments,” says Josephine Mbire, Head of Customer Support at Spot Money.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/spot-money-app-launches-stokvel-feature/

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The secret to levelling up your business

Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth provides key insights into finding, forming and implementing win/win partnerships for startups and SMMEs.

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When Uber and Spotify partnered up a few years ago to give users custom music for their rides, it was a massive win/win for both companies, with each able to increase their reach to various audiences, offer extra value to users, and grow brand recognition and awareness.

Taking your business to the next level is a challenge many business owners face

But we can learn a lot from the Uber-Spotify collaboration. By forming strategic partnerships, you can often leapfrog on progress. Done right, a good partnership can have a tremendous impact on company growth, from increasing sales and reaching new markets to driving efficiency in your operations.

In fact, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, in today’s age of collaboration, finding like-minded businesses to create alliances with can be a valuable tool in taking your company to greater heights.

Since their launch in 2014, SweepSouth have formed many partnerships with companies such as Unilever, FlySafair, FNB, @home, Superbalist, and NetFlorist, and it’s one of the smart strategies that’s propelled them from being a small tech start-up to taking their leaderboard place as SA’s largest on-demand home services platform, with recent expansion into Kenya.

“When we first partnered with other companies, we sought them out, but we’ve had such tangible results that it’s become a more organic process for us, with companies now seeking us out for strategic alliances,” says Pandor.

“Going into business partnerships is an age-old practice that remains relevant today. In our ever-more connected world, successful partnerships can go beyond signing paper contracts to building valuable relationships that form the stepping stones for exciting new ventures.”

For instance, a successful partnership with Airbnb last year gave them an additional avenue to reach Airbnb hosts who may have not have heard of SweepSouth before. It also provided Airbnb hosts, faced with stringent Covid-19 regulations, the chance to hire SweepSouth cleaners trained and certified in Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning protocols.

Alliances that complement your activities can be crucial to business growth. To help you find the right partnership fit and get the most out of it, here are some guidelines from Pandor.

Do some pre-work

“Before you set out to find a business to partner with, take stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses and identify what gaps or functional requirements are needed to achieve your vision,” advises Pandor.

Establish exactly what you’d like to get out of an alliance with another company. Is it to find a different route to market, provide new services or products, expand into other territories, fill a skills gap, or gain exposure to a new client demographic? Partnerships manifest themselves in different ways. SweepSouth, for example, regularly does promotional partnerships with companies like McCain and UCook (for Father’s Day this June), which helps them reach new audiences.

“Exposure is imperative for your business, but it can be expensive to always promote your product or service on your own,” says Pandor. “Promotional partnerships are fairly simple, giving you access to a wider client pool and leveraging the trust and brand reputation associated with each company to deliver a higher level of perceived value for customers. The best of these partnerships are profitable to both sides, and also enhance business credibility and image.”

Once you’ve decided what kind of partnership you’re looking for, spend some time defining how you’d like the partnership to function, what you’d expect from it, and the metrics by which you’d measure its success. By outlining your expectations before you start searching for a partner, your efforts will be more productive than simply trying to decide if you just ‘like’ a potential company or not.

Things to look for in a partnership

To find a strategic partner that’s perfect for your business – and vice versa – do your due diligence and make sure the following boxes are ticked:

  • This might sound obvious, but choose a partner that makes sense to your business and to your clients. Think about your customers and the kinds of partnerships that would benefit them most.
  • The partnership must be a win-win-win relationship, and hold value for both companies, for it to be worthwhile.
  • Make sure that your brands align. “Being compatible in terms of vision, purpose, and goals forms a good basis for a successful partnership,” advises Aisha. “Having similar corporate priorities will help to ensure compatibility. If you choose a partner whose objectives and values clash with yours, it could drive a wedge between you over time.”

Benefits of a strategic partnership

Provides a competitive advantage. A good partnership boosts your expertise and resources to create better services or products, offer stronger value to clients, or help you reach a different audience, thereby taking your business to a new level.

It inspires you. It’s easy to get stuck into a day-to-day routine in your business. Seeing how other companies do something can provide a fresh perspective and help you think in creative new ways.

Gives access to knowledge. A big benefit of a strategic partnership agreement is the opportunity to learn from other professionals who bring different skills and strengths to the table. You can then use that knowledge and information to better your business.

Broaden your network. Networking and making professional connections are key to business success. By forming an alliance with a company, you’re exposed to new colleagues, contacts, and customers.

Strengthens your company. Operating in isolation and trying to do everything yourself, especially if you don’t have the know-how in a specific area, can cost time and money. The right partnership can help you better your weaknesses and enhance your strengths, making your business more stable and strong. Some collaborative relationships can even help to reduce costs, such as if you share development and marketing expenses.

Going forward

Once you’ve found a company to partner with, draw up clear agreements, taking the time to iron out every detail. Set clear expectations and goals, defining what the partnership should accomplish for each company.

Next, set your partnership up for success by forging a strong way of working together. “Make an effort to build and cultivate the relationship, and communicate frequently to minimise misunderstandings,” advises Pandor. “Check-in regularly to see what is doing well and what can be improved, and give each other honest feedback. Trust, transparency, and respect are key for a partnership agreement to work. Both parties need to view each other as necessary equals to keep things going forward.”

Sometimes, even though seemingly promising at the start, a business partnership doesn’t work out. “It’s okay to end it if it’s failing,” says Pandor. “A poor partnership can cause massive problems, so rather walk away and focus on finding something new.”

A good partnership, on the other hand, can be of value to even the most successful of businesses, freeing you up to focus on other activities and areas that drive growth. Moreover, if done right, a strategic alliance can be built into something that can benefit both companies for years to come.

This article was written by Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth.

Featured image: Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth.

Aisha Pandor

Aisha Pandor is the co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth.SweepSouth is Africa’s first online platform for booking, managing and paying for home cleaning services. Pandor has led SweepSouth to become one of the fastest-growing startups in the country. Venture-backed, SweepSouth became the first South African startup to be accepted into the prestigious 500 Startups accelerator in Silicon Valley.Pandor completed her PhD in Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town. Following her studies, she went on to work as a management consultant before launching SweepSouth, which connects unemployed and underemployed domestic workers with homeowners, providing work opportunities for thousands of women. Aisha was recognised by the World Economic Forum in 2017 as one six African female breakthrough innovators.

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In fact, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, in today’s age of collaboration, finding like-minded businesses to create alliances with can be a valuable tool in taking your company to greater heights.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/the-secret-to-levelling-up-your-business/

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