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Minly, a Creator Economy Platform out of Egypt Raises a $3.6M Seed Round

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Minly’s team (Image and press release by Minly)

Minly, a platform empowering stars to create authentic, personalized connections with their fans across the MENA region, has closed an oversubscribed $3.6 million seed round co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, and Global Ventures. The round also included participation from other leading regional funds, and a cast of highly strategic angel investors including Scooter Braun (founder of SB Projects), WndrCo (Anthony Saleh and Jeffrey Katzenberg), Jason Finger (founder of Seamless / Grubhub), Arieh Mimran (Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer of to.org, and CIO of Groupe Mimran), and Tamim Jabr (Executive Director for International Investments at Kingdom Holding Co).

“Minly is fundamentally changing the relationship between celebrities and fans in the MENA region, and has an enormous opportunity for growth,” says Peter Orth, Co-Founder & General Partner at 4DX Ventures, who will be joining the board. “The team has both the ambition and the expertise to build a full-stack digital interaction platform that could change the way digital content is created and consumed in the region. We’re thrilled to partner with Minly and to help them reach their full potential.”

The company has experienced rapid organic growth since launching in late 2020, and already has more than 50,000 registered users on the platform, along with an impressive list of tier A regional celebrities. Through Minly, users can buy personalized video messages and shoutouts from their favorite celebrities, getting unprecedented access to the talent they admire most, and celebrities in turn get to connect with their fans on a deeper level. Minly has assembled a diverse roster of hundreds of talented celebrities that not only includes traditional cinema and television stars but also athletes, musicians, and internet influencers. Minly has been able to attract some of the top talent in the region to the platform, including Tamer Hosny, Fifi Abdou, Assala Nasri, Dorra Zarrouk, Hazem Imam, and Mahmoud Trezeguet. The global pandemic has helped boost interest in the platform – in person events have all but disappeared, and Minly is offering celebrities an authentic and personal way to continue to interact with their top fans.

One such top star on the platform is acclaimed singer, actor, and director Tamer Hosny, with more than 50 million followers across social media. “I’m very excited to be on Minly, connecting with my fans around the world,” he says. “I’m also super happy with the social impact that we’re making on Minly, as a portion of the proceeds goes to charities to help the less fortunate”.

Minly has broader ambitions to extend their products and services to become a full-stack passion economy platform that empowers content creators to deliver meaningful experiences across multiple mediums to their fans. “With this new funding and the incredible group of partners that joined us, we are ready to scale across the region and introduce an exciting suite of new products,” says Mohamed El-Shinnawy, co-founder at Minly. “The creator economy is in its infancy and growing at lightning speed. We have the opportunity to build this category’s first unicorn in MENA”.

Minly allows users to browse public shoutouts on the platform and gives them a chance to record their reactions creating unique and authentic moments. An example of the heartfelt Minly Moments created on the platform is when Tamer Hosny popped up unexpectedly in Haidy and Abanoub’s engagement party surprising everyone and creating an unforgettable moment for the happy couple. Another Minly Moment that was captured on the platform was for Assala’s biggest fans, the Al-Ghazzawi family. Mohamad was caught off guard when his wife Insaf gifted him a personalized video from Assala on Father’s Day celebrating their precious daughter Sham. “As a mission-driven team, it’s all about spreading this positivity, and empowering stars and content creators to engage with communities from all walks of life. We’re also very proud of our collaboration with NGOs that create real on-the-ground social impact, such as the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation.” adds Shinnawy.

Shinnawy brings more than 15 years of media and technology experience to the table. He sold his first company Emerge Technology to a media and entertainment company based in Los Angeles, and managed a team of 85 engineers that delivered work for Hollywood’s top studios, such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal, Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers. Shinnawy also played an instrumental role in Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix’s global expansion to reach hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

Minly’s Co-Founders

Co-founded and led by Mohamed El-Shinnawy, Tarek Hosny, and Bassel El-Toukhy, with industry partners such as Tarek ElGanainy and Ahmed Abbas, Minly’s team brings together decades of experience from top firms in technology and entertainment, including Uber, Careem, MBC’s Shahid, Emerge Technology, Microsoft, Disney, Apple, Netflix, IBM, Amazon, and Vodafone.

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Investment

CreditFins, Egypt’s first Credit Card management platform, closes a pre-seed funding round

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CreditFins Team 

CreditFins, a Credit Card management and financial wellness startup and the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa(MENA), closed a pre-seed round of investment led by Flat6Labs, AUC Angels, and TA Telecom Holding. Other Angel Investors with backgrounds in technology and investment participated in the funding, which CreditFins is deploying towards developing the product and acquiring users.

“Credit Fins has developed a cutting-edge financial technology solution to alleviate bank customers’ financial struggles, kicking off in Egypt and expanding to new markets. Add to that their solid founding team who continue to grow their business, is a sure recipe for success. Flat6labs is proud to be part of their success journey.” said Albert Malaty, Managing Director of Flat6Labs Cairo Seed Program.

CreditFins helps users repay their Credit Card debt while saving money. It is a cheaper, more convenient solution for debt repayment through fixed, lower monthly installments as part of a plan that can be easily tracked. CreditFins’ customers save 20-50% of the interest they would have paid with their bank.

“CreditFins stood out amongst their cohort because of a clear strength in the team. The diversity in their experience, and their resourceful approach to addressing the problem they’ve identified, was apparent to investors. We look forward to witnessing the growth and pivots they will go through in their mission to empower their user base through enhanced financial tools.” said Mariam Kamel, Manager of AUC Angels.

As total outstanding credit card debt in Egypt stood at more than $2 billion as of 2019, CreditFins is on a mission to grant its customers financial freedom. CreditFins is aware that falling into the vicious debt cycle is due to inaccessibility of information and lack of awareness, a gap the startup seeks to fill.

The startup is actively working to launch “CreditFins Alpha” card, introducing more features to its solution, as it strives to make its credit card management platform more compelling and to widen its customer base.

“Credit card debt is a moving target that’s hard to settle. At CreditFins, we work with our customers to settle the debt they have in a faster and cheaper way, along with providing them with financial information and empowering them with the right tools to be financially liberated” said Sherif Radi, co-founder and CEO of CreditFins.

The company is founded by a team with extensive experience in innovation and product building. Co-Founder and CEO Sherif Radi has over 17 years of experience in innovation strategy. As former CEO of TA Telecom, his work focused on innovation, customer-centric solutions, and building new products. Co-founder and CPO, Gamal Sadek, is a tech-entrepreneur with over 11 years of experience in entrepreneurship, during which he co-directed the Founder Institute chapter in Egypt and co-founded Bey2ollak, Egypt’s number one mobile app for crowdsourcing traffic information used by over 1.3 million commuters in Egypt.

Co-founder and CCO Norhan El Sakkout, was previously an investment associate at LimeVest Partners and Beltone Private Equity, having worked at Endeavor Egypt on accelerating high-impact SMEs, then at TA Telecom; she brings the know-how in investment, finance and business continuity.

 

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Yoco raises US$83m to scale its financial ecosystem for small businesses in South Africa

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Yoco Founders (Images: Ivy Shirinda-JNPR)

Yoco, South African payments and software platform, has secured $83 million (R1.2 billion)  in Series C funding amid a surge in demand for digital payments amongst African small businesses.

The latest investment round brings the total funds raised to date, by Yoco, to US$107 million. These funds will enable Yoco to accelerate the development of its financial ecosystem, which already includes online and in-store payments, business software and capital, as well as expand its market presence beyond South Africa.

Among the company’s new investors are Dragoneer Investment Group, which is making its Africa investment debut, Breyer Capital, HOF Capital, The Raba Partnership, 4DX Ventures, TO Ventures, Futuregrowth and several current and former executives from global tech leaders such as Coinbase, Revolut, Spotify and Gojek.

“We are excited to partner with such world-class investors who have joined our quest to break barriers and create access to financial services for millions of small businesses across the continent.” said Katlego Maphai, the chief executive office of Yoco, “Looking ahead, this investment will unlock capacity for us to accelerate product development for our merchants and continue on our growth trajectory in South Africa and beyond.”

In less than six years, Yoco has become the preferred payments partner for over 150 000 small businesses across South Africa, processing more than US$1 billion in card payments per year. Importantly, Yoco’s growth has been driven almost exclusively by small, independent businesses that were previously cash-only due to the complexity and high costs of existing alternatives.

Carl Wazen, Yoco’s chief business officer, says that despite being the largest payments platform in South Africa, Yoco is still at the beginning of its journey.  “There are over 6 million small businesses in South Africa and well over 100 million across the Middle East and Africa that still transact only in cash.” Wazen says “recent consumer behaviour shows a shift away from cash and businesses have to rapidly adapt to this change. This presents a huge opportunity and it is our mission to support that transition.”

Yoco team

Yoco has big plans for seizing this opportunity by continuing to deepen its market presence in South Africa and expanding into Africa and the Middle East region over the next two years. The goal, according to Wazen, is to reach at least a million merchants within the next four years.

“Working so closely with small businesses during a global pandemic, and in particular through a challenging socio-economic environment in South Africa, we have a firsthand account of how agile these businesses need to be in a rapidly changing world,” says Maphai.

“Removing barriers and levelling the playing field by creating access to financial tools is a big part of answering these challenges. Yoco is at the forefront of solving what is critical for small businesses and enabling them to thrive. This new capital injection translates into an acceleration of access for small businesses in our region and beyond, bringing our vision of open commerce forward,” concludes Maphai.

 

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Chaka secures $1.5M pre-seed round to power digital investments and wealth management opportunities across Africa

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Chaka CEO, Tosin Osibodu at a press briefing (Image & Press Release: Chaka)

Chaka is thrilled to announce its $1.5M pre-seed funding round led by Breyer Capital, a global venture firm focused on catalyzing growth in high-impact companies like Spotify, Facebook, and now, Chaka. Other participants in the round are 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Future Africa, Seedstars, and Musha Ventures.

Chaka is a technology solutions company on a mission to enable every business and person in Africa to access borderless digital investment and wealth management opportunities. The team combines investment expertise and best-in-class technology to provide reliable digital Investing, trading and wealth management solutions that are easy-to-use and easy-to-integrate.

Their mission is to enable digital border-less investing for African businesses and individuals. They’re powering the digital investment landscape in Africa through partnerships with asset managers, financial technology firms, and regulators with whom we have a shared mission. We achieve this by providing trading solutions that are easy to use and easy to integrate.

With this capital, they will focus on the goals to build a roster of formidable partners and accelerate expansion to other markets within West Africa. This investment also enables them to hire top talent and integrate more advanced functionalities into our investment and wealth management solutions.

Jim Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital, shared his view on this investment and it illustrates their shared vision: “We are proud to align ourselves with a company that is leveling the investment playing field for Nigerians (and Africans at large). We’re confident in the value Chaka provides through its digital tools, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting Tosin, Bo, Olaolu, and the Chaka team.”

This is a significant milestone for Chaka and could not have come this far without their users, partners, early investors, and a talented, achieving team of Champions.

They see digital investments as a means to boost economic transformation in Africa, and we’re very keen to bring this vision to life.

 

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