Fintech Julaya raises US$5m pre-Series A round of funding to support its expansion

IVORY COAST – Payment solution Julaya, which is based in and focuses on payments, has raised an additional US$5 million in a pre-Series A round of funding.

The company has raised a total of US$7 million in the fundraising round to support its mission of facilitating business-to-business (B2B) payments for companies in Francophone West Africa, primarily using mobile money channels.

The pre-Series A expansion round for Julaya was headed by the European VC firm Speedinvest.

Investors included new entrants EQ2 Ventures and Kibo Ventures as well as current investors Orange Ventures, Saviu, 50 Partners, Ivorian business angel Mohamed Diabi, and professional football star Édouard Mendy. Additionally, Julaya received funding from its CFO and country manager in Senegal.

This investment round will support the fintech in its expansion aspirations across Francophone West Africa, as it intends to create offices in Benin, Togo, and Burkina Faso, add talent, and increase product development, including the launch of a loan product aimed at 200,000 SMEs in the UEMOA area.

The startup has gained significant traction. CEO Mathias Léopoldie said in July 2017 that the fintech company processed more than US$1.5 million weekly.

These figures have multiplied by five to over US$7.5 million, and revenues have surged by nearly 500% annually. Julaya’s clientele includes companies like Jumia and Sendy.

Enrique Martinez-Hausmann, principal at lead investor Speedinvest, stated that the firm’s portfolio company is altering how businesses work in the complicated payment ecosystem in Francophone, which includes well-known firms like CinetPay and Bizao

“As we look ahead, the potential for Julaya’s technology goes far beyond its payment capabilities, having the opportunity to become a close banking partner for companies in West Africa,” Martinez-Hausmann said.

A notable observation from the news is the amount of athletes who are limited partners in the company; some have also reportedly made direct investments.

“I think he’s a bit ahead of the curve. We see that football stars, or high-net-worth individuals in the sports industry, are starting to see that they need to invest in venture capital for two reasons. The first one is that even though it’s a risky asset, it brings great returns,” founder Léopoldie said.

“And second, they need to use their image to show that they don’t only care about their sports career but want to be an inspiration to their home country. It was meaningful for Édouard Mendy because he’s Senegalese.”

Founded in 2018, the Julaya platform allows small to big firms to make bulk payments to other businesses and their unbanked staff using current mobile money channels.

However, they may now access additional services, such as the startup’s Mastercard-issued prepaid card for corporate cost management.

According to CEO Mathias Léopoldie, the cards are customised for businesses’ travel needs, other internet spending, and the simple importation of transactions into their accounting systems.

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