Julaya, an African fintech startup with offices in Ivory Coast and France has secured US$2 million in a pre-Series A round to grow and expand its product in West Africa.
The startup had previously raised $250,000 in 2018 and US$550,000 in 2019/2020. It has now raised $2 million pre-Series A round to fund its next stage of growth. Investors include corporate venture capital firms Orange Ventures and MFS Africa Frontiers, VC firms Saviu Ventures, Launch Africa Ventures and 50 Partners Capital, and other angel investors from Europe and Africa.
Julaya will use the funding for further market penetration in Ivory Coast, expansion in West Africa – starting with Sénégal – and new product development. The latter includes integrating new digital wallets to its disbursement offering and upselling with a better user experience such as integrating with its customers’ ERP systems.
The startup was founded in 2018 by Mathias Léopoldie and Charles Talbot, both ex-employees of French payment fintech startup, LemonWay. The startup boasts of a customer base that ranges from small and medium businesses to large corporations and government institutions. One of its most prominent customers is the ecommerce company, Jumia.
On why they founded Julaya, co-founder and CEO, Mathias Léopoldie explained that working in the mobile money sector gave them an insight on the many possibilities in the sector.
“Having worked in the nascent mobile money industry, we realised that the large consumer penetration of telecom operators would benefit businesses that wanted to reach the unbanked and make fast payments. Our platform Julaya enables companies to streamline their accounting. They improve their operational efficiency by digitising their payments to workers and suppliers.”
The mobile money market in Africa has witnessed tremendous growth over the last few years. In Ivory Coast, Julaya’s first market, 75% of the population owns a mobile money account whereas less than 25% of Ivorians have a bank account. Transactions and customers growth rates are astonishing (>20% yearly), and West Africa is one of the most dynamic regions in the continent.
Habib Bamba, director of transformation for digital and media at Orange Ivory Coast, explained the reason behind this strategic investment for Orange Ventures.
“Fintech’s environment in Africa is distinguished by its competitiveness and strong dynamism. Orange Group, through its technology investment fund, intends to participate in this boom by supporting fintechs such as Julaya. The goal is to target local technology champions at the service of the transition to a more digital and responsible world. This funding will allow Julaya to grow and conquer West Africa with the Orange Digital Centre team’s support,” he said.