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Autocheck Financial Services Launched to Accelerate Vehicle Financing across Africa

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Autocheck Financial Services CEO, Johan van der Merwe

Autochek, the automotive technology company making car ownership more accessible and affordable across Africa, has announced the launch of Autochek Financial Services, a new arm of the business that will focus on providing a range of vehicle financing solutions for consumers and businesses across the continent.

Autochek Financial Services will continue to support Autochek’s Marketplace platform, which partners with car dealers and other service providers to make it easier for consumers and businesses to finance their vehicles. It will also provide best in class technology and advisory solutions to car dealers, financial institutions and other stakeholders in Africa’s automotive ecosystem, supporting them to improve credit decisioning, collections, pricing, portfolio management and product development, as well as deliver an enhanced customer experience.

Since launching in 2020, Autochek has driven the penetration of auto-financing across Africa, enabling more consumers and businesses across North, West and East Africa to access financing solutions to purchase their desired vehicles. In less than two years of operations, the company has worked with more than 70 financial institutions and more than 2,000 dealerships to process more than 80,000 car loan applications. Leveraging the vast reach of its online marketplace, the company originates auto loans powered by data analytics that makes it easier for financial institutions to offer credit to consumers. With the launch of Autochek Financial Services, the company is now positioned to double down its efforts to accelerate access to finance for Africans, and to improve the speed, structure and pricing of auto-financing on the continent.

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Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, Autochek Financial Services will be led by Johan van der Merwe, a financial services veteran with more than 20 years’ experience in  risk, credit and asset finance. Before joining Autochek Financial Services as CEO, Johan had previous roles as Chief Risk Officer at WesBank Motor (one of South Africa’s leading vehicle and asset finance providers) and SA Taxi (a vertically integrated company that provides financing, insurance and other services for the minibus taxi industry in South Africa). He will head a leadership team with more than 60 years of Africa-focussed automotive and ecommerce experience.

According to Etop Ikpe, Group CEO and co-founder of Autochek, “Johan brings a wealth of experience to Autochek Financial Services and we are excited to have him on board as we build the infrastructure to transform automotive commerce across Africa. We want to empower more Africans with seamless access to vehicle financing and we are looking forward to delivering more solutions to bridge the affordability gap and make it easier for more Africans to purchase the vehicles they want”.

Johan van der Merwe, Chief Executive Officer of Autochek Financial Services, said “there is a great opportunity to drive shared value for consumers, manufacturers, financial institutions and other stakeholders by unlocking financing and I strongly believe that we can build the infrastructure to make this happen. Etop and the team have done a lot of outstanding work to deliver the success Autochek has seen to date and I am looking forward to working with them to deliver more success and more growth across the continent’s automotive sector”.

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Press Release

Lipa Later Group Acquires Sky.Garden, One Of East Africa’s Leading E-Commerce Platforms

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Lipa Later Group, has acquired Sky.Garden in a move that re-energizes our commitment to bridging the gap between the merchant and a customer with more empowerment between both parties, merchant and customer, stellar service, stellar tech, and revamped strategies that promise to disrupt the industry.

This acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later marks an important milestone in the group’s goal to offer innovative solutions that meet the needs of businesses and consumers. This move will enable Lipa Later to expand our customer base and solidify our presence in the market.

The e-commerce industry has exploded in recent years, providing businesses with the opportunity to reach customers quickly, cheaply, and more often. This is the driving force behind the decision to invest in Sky.Garden.

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Speaking during the onboarding ceremony, Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli reiterated that the acquisition is timely as fintech continues to build an end-to-end avenue that connects merchants to customers and vice versa.

“Guided by our objective to empower African businesses and consumers to do more by enabling e-commerce, financial inclusion and shopping all on one centralized and fully integrated platform, our plan has always been to venture into e-commerce with unique value propositions for our consumers. Sky.Garden has done an incredible job and checks all those boxes. Lipa Later is no stranger to the e-commerce industry, having already established a strong presence in the online payment and finance sectors. This acquisition has greatly accelerated our plans of redefining the shopping experience for consumers,” said Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli.

Sky.Garden, which has raised north of $6,000,000 prior to this acquisition, will now be fully owned by Lipa Later Group and will continue to operate using its name.

With the acquisition of Sky.Garden, Lipa Later is now in a position to provide a comprehensive e-commerce solution to consumers, and with Sky.Garden’s established infrastructure and market presence, consumers will be able to purchase items from Sky Garden using any preferred payment method including Lipa Later’s buy now, pay later model which provides for a payment plan that is flexible and affordable through monthly instalments.

Last month, we saw no other option than to file for insolvency,” Martin Majlund, founder of Sky.Garden, reiterated. “Today, I’m happy to see that Sky Garden will live on with new owners and new management. We built a great product over time, and I believe Lipa Later has the potential to take Sky Garden to the next level. Through this acquisition, the vision of Sky Garden will continue to live on while retaining jobs and businesses on our platform.”

This acquisition is a key step forward in our goal of becoming a leader in the e-commerce space. The acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later presents a great opportunity for both companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and further the growth of the e-commerce industry. With the combination of our expertise in financial services and Sky.Garden’s innovative e-commerce platform, the potential for growth is tremendous, and the impact this could have on the industry could be immense. Expansion plans are in place to see Sky.Garden integrated across other Lipa Later countries of operation which include Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria.

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Press Release

VENCO secures $670,000 pre-seed funding

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VENCO, a technology company that provides solutions to enhance living experiences in residential and commercial communities in Africa, has secured $670,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round to scale its all-in-one technology platform that manages collections, service charge administration, utilities vending, visitor access and other services associated with multi-unit property developments across Africa.

The pre-seed funding round was led by Zrosk Investment Management, with participation from other strategic investors including Voltron Capital, Decimal Point Ventures, Fast Forward Fund, Tayo Oviosu (CEO of Paga), Odun Eweniyi (COO of Piggyvest), Oo Nwoye, Desigan Chinniah, Dakar Network Angels and Viktoria Business Angel Network. Starting with Nigeria and Kenya, the new funding will support VENCO to build out its credit delivery infrastructure for rent and household spend, as well as its expansion into other cities and countries on the continent. 

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With growing urbanisation across Africa, multi-property developments have emerged as the preferred mode of delivering residential and commercial real estate. Of the 2.5 million households in Nigeria that earn more than $1,000 per month, 80 percent live in multi-property communities. 25 percent of their income is spent on rent and 50 percent is spent on other household needs, including consumables, utilities, internet data, cable TV and other services. This market for household spend represents a $22.5 billion opportunity in Nigeria, and $100 billion across Africa.

However, with the process of managing various aspects of life in these communal developments being largely manual and paper-based, there are many inefficiencies that negatively impact residents’ experience and profitability for property owners. For example, the default-rate on service charge collection for multi-property developments in Africa can be as high as 60 percent, which means that property managers are either out of pocket or forced to operate on insufficient funds. Even when payments are collected, the manual process means reconciliation is error-prone and theft is common.

Co-founded by Chude Osiegbu (CEO), Reagan Mbitiru (CTO) and Uzochukwu Alor (COO), VENCO automates collection and reconciliation of all dues and payments in communities resulting in improved receipts and better margins for property owners. For residents, self-service tools provided by VENCO make processes such as visitor control, issue and emergency management as well as utilities-vending more seamless. With residents able to build an economic profile based on their financial transactions on the VENCO platform, they can now access a range of embedded financial services, including insurance, credit facilitation for rent, service charges and household spend along with many other services.

VENCO has recorded over 200 percent growth over the last 9 months and is currently in 6 cities and more than 12,000 property units across Nigeria and Kenya. Since January 2022, it has processed more than $10 million in transaction value via its platform. The company is also partnering with ecommerce platforms to enable easier access to merchants within and around the community, energy companies to ensure reliable energy metering and collections, and other service providers to improve the overall experience in these communities.

According to Chude Osiegbu, CEO and co-founder of VENCO, “the manual nature of many processes associated with life in residential and commercial communities in Africa presents many issues that we believe technology can fix. Beyond this, we also want to leverage technology to deliver new services and experiences that will transform how people live in Africa’s growing cities and create better value for everyone across the board. Our goal is to deliver technology solutions that will enhance living experiences across the continent, and we are excited to have raised these funds to support that mission”

Samson Esemuede, Managing Director, and Chief Investment Officer at Zrosk Investment Management said The team at VENCO are building a platform that allows for the validation of the GDP of the African household. Not only does a platform like VENCO allow for significant improvement in the experience of African residents, facility managers and property owners, it could potentially unlock at scale the sort of financial services the African consumer really needs. We view VENCO as both a SAAS and a financial inclusion play with a potential for strong multiplicative impact across the continent. We are excited to support the VENCO team in achieving their vision”.

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Press Release

Aruwa Capital, Female founded and led achieves final close on Fund 1

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Aruwa Capital Management (“Aruwa” or “Aruwa Capital”), a Lagos based female founded and led early-stage growth equity and gender lens investment fund, is pleased to announce the successful close of its first institutional fund, which was oversubscribed, surpassing its target of $20 million. The fund’s first institutional and anchor investor is Visa Foundation, followed by other investors such as Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund, Nyala Venture, backed by Financial Sector Deepening Africa Investments and leading family businesses from Africa, Europe and the United States.

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Aruwa Capital Management was founded in 2019 by Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes who has leveraged more than a decade of investment banking and private equity experience from leading global organisations such as J.P.Morgan. Adesuwa started Aruwa to address the investment gap that women-led enterprises face in Africa. They comprise 40% of all small and medium enterprises (SMEs),yet receive only 1% of startup capital1 due to the lack of female capital allocators in the region. Through its investment strategy, the Fund aims to create more sustainable and scalable pathways for economic growth and inclusion in the region. 

The Fund will invest $500 thousand to $2.5 million in women focused small and growing businesses in Nigeria and Ghana, targeting investments in critical sectors such as healthcare, fintech, renewable energy, and essential consumer goods. Aruwa invests in innovative businesses, poised for scale, that provide essential goods and services to the rapidly expanding female economy, and businesses that are founded or led by women or have gender diverse teams.

To date, the Fund has made six investments, committing over 45% of its capital into a diversified portfolio of rapidly growing companies. Aruwa has established a reputation for rigorous investment selection and active hands-on support of management teams on the ground, to improve Company operations and performance. Aruwa’s team is composed of investment professionals and portfolio managers, based in Lagos, who combine international best practice skill sets from global institutions with deep local networks, and on the ground presence to unlock untapped investment opportunities.

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