WEST AFRICA – Ejara, an app for Africa and its diasporas to access various investment, has raised US$2 million to help the Francophone Africa region pioneer the use of crypto and investment services.

Ejara is one-year-old company founded by Nelly Chatue-Diop that offers fractional shares, commodities, cryptocurrency, and more.

The round was led by CoinShares Ventures and Anthemis Group. Mercy Corps Ventures, Lateral Capital, LoftyInc Capital, and NetX Fund have joined them.

A syndicate social fund and two angel investors, Pascal Gauthier of Ledger and Jason Yanowitz of Blockworks also took part.

“The built-in transparency and security of the blockchain combined with the popularity of mobile banking in Africa made it clear to me that a blockchain-based mobile investment platform was the key to expanding financial inclusion,” said founder and CEO Chatue-Diop, of her decision to explore the crypto terrain.

“But as all these crypto companies were popping up left and right, I felt very few were speaking to Francophone Africans like myself.”

Ejara will use the seed funding to focus on growth, the deployment of items on the company’s roadmap, and the expansion of the product and engineering teams.

Although barely a year-old, Ejara has over 8,000 users from Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, and Senegal, as well as French-speaking Africans in the diaspora (Europe, Asia, and the United States).

It caters to them through a partnership with crypto payment infrastructure company MoonPay, allowing them to send money to friends and family in Africa. All of this was accomplished with little marketing money, according to the CEO.

On why they invested, CoinShares’ Meltem Demirors discussed the possibility in Francophone Africa as well as the lack of finance in the region.

Despite the fact that Francophone Africa accounts for around 25% of the continent’s population, she claims that the region’s companies have received less than 1% of venture capital — but she sees Ejara’s fundraising round as a ray of optimism, especially in a relatively untouched field like fintech.

“We are excited to work with Nelly and the Ejara team to deliver financial services via non-custodial wallets and offers a new level of trust and transparency to Francophone savers and investors,” Demirors said.

For Anthemis and the reason for their investment, Anthemis partner Ruth Foxe Blader stated that the firm is concerned with how Ejara teaches individuals in Francophone Africa about digital assets and democratizes wealth generating prospects.

Founded in 2019 by Chatue-Diop and Baptiste Andrieux, Ejara is an app for Africa and its diasporas to access various investment, offering fractional shares, commodities, cryptocurrency, and more.

Essentially, Ejara caters to two types of customers: a majority of users who use it to buy cryptocurrency in order to store for future plans, and business owners who conduct regular transactions.

The startup’s goal is to level the playing field for the typical Francophone African by allowing them to invest as little as 5,000 CFA (US$9) in crypto through the Ejara platform.

“In Africa, most people don’t have the safety net called retirement fund and some customers use Ejara for that,” she said.

“There are users, moms in particular, that use the platform to invest in their kids’ college education. Then we have a tiny portion of the customer base that are wholesalers and do a lot of volumes; they use crypto to finance and buy their goods from overseas suppliers via this method.”

According to the firm, security, privacy, and ownership are important to it, which is why it is providing non-custodial wallets to its users so they may safely buy, sell, exchange, and store their crypto investments.

In the ten years before going to Cameroon to launch Ejara, founder and CEO Chatue-Diop studied and then had a handful of high-level executive positions in Europe.