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Y Combinator backed teen neobank Zywa closes a $1M pre-seed round, to launch in Egypt and the UAE

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Y Combinator backed Dubai-based fintech Zywa closes a $1M pre-seed round for its teen neobank. Besides Y Combinator, the strategic investors from the United States and the Middle East who participated in the round include; executives from Google, Amazon, Netflix, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, as well as regional bankers and entrepreneurs.

Zywa is part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 batch (YC W22) that kicked off early this year. Y Combinator is the most globally renowned start-up accelerator that has backed unicorns like Airbnb, Reddit, Dropbox, Coinbase, Stripe, DoorDash, Instacart, and Brex, GitLab. With a collective portfolio value of $600B+.

Founded in 2021 by young entrepreneurs Alok Kumar and Nuha Hashem. Zywa is bringing a unique solution to the region through offering a social banking app and a payment card to Gen Zs between the age of 11-21 years old. Growing up as teenagers in the GCC region, the young founders personally felt the pain point of using cash. While growing up and took it upon themselves to enable Gen Z in the region to go cashless. The startup is building a solution for Gen Z and has already assembled a founding team of Gen Zs and young Millennials.

“Gen Z will be the most active segment in the workforce during the next decade. Our vision is to build a platform that will not only help them go cashless but also facilitate their interaction with Web 3.0. It is quite humbling to be a part of Y Combinator. And we are excited that Zywa is among the very few companies that are selected globally. We believe Y Combinator’s mentorship, extensive network and access to strategic global capital will be a catalyst to propel us towards our vision at a faster pace.” mentioned Alok Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Zywa.

“When we started in 2021, our priority was to build a solution that is tailored for teens and their parents in the region. We assembled an in-house tech team and developed a product which is available in both English and Arabic. Free of cost and can reinforce teens’ financial literacy through a learning-by-doing approach. It also gives them a social space to interact with their peers, earn rewards, and even rack up collectible NFTs on the side. Parents can also track their kids’ spending and saving behavior, have complete oversight, and transfer money instantly to their kids. Through Y Combinator’s vast resources as well as a world-class network of experts. We are confident that we can build and scale the product to something that Gen Zs all over the region will love.” said Nuha Hashem, co-founder and CTO of Zywa.

The team has already secured strategic partnerships in Egypt and the UAE. And the app is already available on the App Store where teens and parents are able to join the waitlist. Zywa is planning to launch in Egypt and the UAE soon and prepping to go live in Saudi Arabia by 2023.

 

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Press Release

Tokunboh Ishmael Joins Endeavor Board

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Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital (Photo: Endeavor Nigeria)

Endeavor Nigeria announced today the appointment of ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, to its board of directors.

Tokunboh Ishmael is an impact investor with over 20 years of experience spanning investment banking, private equity investing, technology, and business development in Africa, Europe, and North America. She is the Managing Director, and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, Nigeria-based investment management and advisory firm focused on channeling private equity investments into small and medium-sized businesses in West Africa.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mrs. Tokunboh Ishmael to the board of Endeavor in Nigeria,” said Tosin Faniro-Dada, Managing Director and CEO of Endeavor Nigeria. “Mrs. Ishmael is an inspiration to the digital ecosystem, and we’re certain she will add tremendous value as well as a unique perspective to the team with over 20 years of experience in Private Equity and Venture Capital in Africa; ESG and Impacting Investing; Gender Lens Investing; and Diversity and Inclusion.”

Ishamael joins Endeavor Nigeria’s board members, including Atedo Peterside CON (Board Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria and President & Founder, Anap Foundation), Bolaji Balogun (Board Vice-Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria, and CEO, Chapelhill Denham), Jaideep Gulab (CEO, Rosemonde), Halima Aliko Dangote (Group Executive Director, Dangote Industries Limited), Yemi Lalude (Managing Partner, TPG Growth), Andrew Alli (Group CEO & Partner, SouthBridge Group), Mitchell Elegbe (Founder & GMD, Interswitch Group), Faysal El-Khalil (Chairman, Seven-Up Bottling Company), Suresh Chellaram (Chairman, Chellarams Group), and Tosin Faniro-Dada (Managing Director & CEO, Endeavor Nigeria).

Endeavor Nigeria’s board of directors comprises top business leaders who actively support the organization’s efforts to advance the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and economy.

Commenting on the appointment, Atedo Peterside CON, Chairman of the Board, said, “We’re honored to welcome ‘Tokunboh Ishmael to the Board of Directors of Endeavor Nigeria. We are certain that she will bring tremendous value to the Endeavor network, drawing on very relevant practical experiences. It will also further enhance the strong role that Endeavor Nigeria has been playing in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria as a whole.

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I look forward to working closely with her on the board and strategy level.”

Speaking on the appointment, ‘Tokunbo Ishmael said, “I am pleased to join the board of Endeavor Nigeria, an institution that has played a key role in placing high-impact, transformative African entrepreneurs and businesses on the global map. I look forward to contributing my unique experience to the energetic and visionary leadership of the organization to unlock further growth and impact through Endeavor Nigeria’s robust initiatives and network.”

Endeavor is the world’s leading community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 1997, Endeavor is a global organization with a mission to unlock the transformational power of entrepreneurship by selecting, supporting, and investing in the world’s top founders. Today, Endeavor’s network spans 41 markets and supports more than 2,300 entrepreneurs whose companies generate combined revenues of over $42 billion US and have created more than 3.9 million jobs. Endeavor’s unique entrepreneur-first model and network of trust provide a platform for founders to dream big, scale up, and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

Endeavor launched its Nigeria office in 2018 to select and support the best founders of companies at the scale-up and growth stage who recognise a responsibility to pay it forward and multiply their impact in Nigeria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. In Nigeria, Endeavor aims to select 4-6 companies a year, and today there are 33 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 16 companies in their portfolio. 

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Health

mPharma acquires majority stake in HealthPlus

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mPharma, Africa’s leading patient-centered technology-driven healthcare company, has acquired the majority stake in HealthPlus, the leading pharmacy chain in Nigeria. mPharma and the former investor, Alta Semper, have signed an agreement leading to the acquisition of a majority stake in the HealthPlus Group.

According to the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of mPharma, Gregory Rockson, the acquisition is in line with the company’s mission to build an Africa that is in good health by delivering life-changing healthcare services and drugs to improve health outcomes for patients. He stated that the acquisition of the HealthPlus Pharmacy chain by mPharma complements mPharma’s deep commitment to increasing patient access to affordable and quality healthcare in Nigeria.

“mPharma is deepening its long-standing commitment to Africa by reimagining primary healthcare in some of the most vulnerable communities on the continent. We continue to transform community pharmacies into primary care centers to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all patients so they can live not just longer but healthier lives. We are optimistic about the future of healthcare for Nigerians through the acquisition of HealthPlus.”, said Rockson.

In her remarks on the acquisition, Afsane Jetha, Co-founder and CEO at Alta Semper Capital, said: “We are delighted about HealthPlus’ partnership with mPharma. We have a strong conviction in mPharma’s strategy of revolutionizing primary care across Africa and believe mPharma is the ideal steward for HealthPlus’s next chapter of growth. We believe mPharma’s vision is consistent with that of HealthPlus’s shareholders and employees, and we are enthusiastic to support the business through a relationship with mPharma going forward”.

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While mPharma plans to continue to keep and strengthen HealthPlus as Nigeria’s leading pharmacy brand in Nigeria, the acquisition will also provide expansion opportunities for mPharma within Nigeria and a platform to expand mPharma’s mutti pharmacy retail footprint across the continent through its fast-growing QualityRx program. Powered by mPharma’s proprietary Bloom software, HealthPlus will provide patients access to affordable primary care services within its pharmacies, in addition to affordable and quality medications it currently retails across 12 states in Nigeria. The HealthPlus pharmacy chain will also launch mutti®, mPharma’s health membership program, which will provide both existing and new customers with discounts, interest-free “heal-now-pay-later” plans, free health screenings, and other primary care services.

By combining HealthPlus pharmacies with mPharma’s growing portfolio of partner mutti pharmacies and GoodHealth shops (PPMVs),mPharma’s network will grow from 224 to over 320 health facilities in Nigeria and will provide care to more than 100,000 Nigerians each month.

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Press Release

Bloom joins Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme

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Bloom, the Y Combinator-backed digital banking app has become the first Sudanese company to join Visa’s selective Fintech Fast Tack Programme. Following its graduation as the first Sudanese company in the Silicon Valley accelerator’s history; Bloom has recently launched its waitlist, which saw more than 100,000 users sign up for access to the app. During just two months of operations, Bloom has onboarded more than 20,000 members – which is a significant milestone.

Sudan is one of the ten most populous countries in Africa with tremendous economic potential; and the Sudanese government has recently put the modernisation of the financial system at the heart of its agenda since most of its people are underbanked – 60% of the population are under the age of 24 – a youthful demographic that is increasingly tech-savvy. Digitisation can bridge the gap in bringing banking services to consumers as payment apps and mobile wallets have far greater reach than traditional banks. Hence, Bloom is uniquely positioned to unlock this opportunity in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.

Michael Seibel, Managing Partner at Y Combinator commented: “We are excited by our investment in Bloom, and we value the diverse, yet complementary skillsets of its experienced founding team. Their passion and understanding of the financial challenges faced by consumers in Sudan and the wider East Africa region positions them uniquely for success.”

Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme allows companies like Bloom to receive incentives – reduced costs, faster onboarding, marketing support, in addition to dedicated hands-on support to launch Visa’s swathe of products. Admission to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme, the investment in Bloom by Visa, will see the fintech issue millions of Visa cards over the period, democratising access to international cards in Sudan.

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Visa Country General Manager for Sudan and Libya, Ahmed Mohey said, “We are thrilled to have Bloom at Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme. The suite of Visa’s products and services will provide customers with a secure, fast, and easy-to-use way to make online payments backed by the latest in security technology. Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants.”

Merghani Mahgoub, Managing Director of Bloom states, “Being admitted to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme is a compelling statement of intent from Visa and Bloom to drive adoption of Visa cards in Sudan, and the wider East Africa region. We have been deeply impressed by the Visa team and are excited to work with Visa in bringing our members state-of-the-art financial services, in a digital-first way.”

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