The round was led by Breega, with participation of SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge, Finca Ventures, New General Market Partners, Globivest, Do Good Invest, Rabacap, Launch Africa, Norrsken Impact Accelerator, Future Africa, Samurai Incubate, DOB Equity and fintech angels.
NAIROBI, Kenya, 9 December 2021 - Nairobi-based fintech startup Kwara today announced a $4m seed round from investors across Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. The round follows rapid sales growth and the upcoming launch of their neobank app. They will use these funds to further develop their app in order to enable credit unions in emerging markets to digitize and bring financial services to millions of people.
Kwara is building a next generation neobank for emerging markets, powered by existing credit unions. They provide BaaS software to credit unions to upgrade their back-office operations, then turn their existing account-holders into users of the startup's neobank app. The app allows members of credit unions to deposit money directly to their credit union accounts, repay their loans and apply for instant loans, while tracking their finances and payments, all in a seamless and social manner.In addition, Kwara is building open banking infrastructure via an open API that allows credit unions to integrate with payment gateways, banks and third party vendors, enabling a full marketplace.
“We’ve been thrilled to see the excitement around the Kwara brand among credit unions and their members, which is fast becoming synonymous with a superior user experience and the future of banking. Thanks to our investors, we will now be able to offer an end-client experience that is 100 times better than what they previously had access to,” said Cynthia Wandia, Co-founder and CEO, Kwara.
Over 300 million people currently bank at credit unions in emerging markets, and that number is growing at 6% year-on-year. Kwara aims to increase that to at least 1 billion by the end of the decade, positioning itself as the platform for the $500B in transactions between credit unions and their members.
With credit union clients in Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines, the company launched in January 2019 and today is growing their credit union customer base by 40% month-on-month. By trusting Kwara with their banking operations, and enlisting their clients to users of the Kwara app, Kwara’s clients are growing their membership by 19%, and their loan base by 46% annually.
With over 40 full-time employees and growing, Kwara has already attracted top talents from Nubank, FairMoney and Pi Pay in order to perfect their app and offer clients a premium neobank experience. Anyone who does not yet have access to a personalised banking service will be able to join a credit union through Kwara.
Investors in Kwara’s seed round include Breega, SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge, Finca Ventures, New General Market Partners, Globivest, Do Good Invest, Rabacap, Launch Africa, Norrsken Impact Accelerator, Future Africa, Samurai Incubate, DOB Equity and several fintech execs investors including founders of Meltwater, The Flex Company and ComplyAdvantage and executives from Salesforce and PayPal.
“Over the years, we’ve seen an increasing interest in how to build wealth through community, as well as a shift in consumer preferences towards digital-first banking,” said Ben Marrel, Founding Partner at Breega, who led the investment. “Kwara’s unique approach is a catalyst for a new way of retail banking through digital-first credit unions. We are both proud and excited to be helping this outstanding team scale across Africa and other emerging markets”.
Kwara aims to have 1 billion people benefit from credit unions through the Kwara app by the end of the decade.
Kwara is building the next generation neobank for emerging markets, powered by existing credit unions. They offer SaaS software to credit unions to upgrade their back-office operations, then offer existing customers a neobank consumer app. Today Kwara serves over 60,000 members and handles up to $40M in monthly transactions on their platform. Kwara has received support from global top investors and accelerators such as Norrsken Impact Accelerator, Google for Startups, Catalyst Fund and Mastercard Start Path. Visit www.kwara.com for more.
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