Afriex, a Nigerian fintech startup led by tech entrepreneurs Tope Alabi and John Obirije, has raised $10 million in a Series-A funding round led by Sequoia Capital China and Dragonfly Capital, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based investment banking firm.
The funding will be critical to Afriex’s strategic expansion plans as it focuses on its core money-transfer product following a partnership with Visa last year as part of a move to offer users credit and debit cards.
Alabi and Obirije founded the Lagos-based fintech startup, which is now valued at $60 million, in 2019 as part of a move to create a money transfer system that will allow users to transfer money using a decentralized system.
“I believed that by making money transfers simple, I could help democratize access to wealth creation, in both small and large ways, to improve people’s lives,” Alabi said of his decision to launch a fintech company.
Since its inception nearly three years ago, the startup has processed more than $5 million in monthly transfers and increased its customer base by 500 percent in the last six months, with half of its active users using the platform more than once a week.
Its most recent funding round, which comes nearly a year after it raised $1.3 million in seed funding last May, was led by Sequoia Capital China and Dragonfly Capital, with participation from Goldentree, Stellar Foundation,and Exceptional Capital, among others.
According to management, the $10-million capital injection will be critical in putting Afriex on track to achieve its long-term goal of building a service similar to Visa.
Alabi, Afriex’s CEO, stated that the startup is building a network of connected financial institutions, and as a result, it has built on ramps for local Nigerian banks and on-ramps for local currency exchanges, as a show of confidence in Afriex’s financial solutions, which include providing people in Africa with a place to store their money without exposing their savings to devaluation.
Haseeb Qureshi, managing partner of Dragonfly Capital, one of the investing firms, stated: “A big strength of Afriex is being able to straddle the entire corridor between the United States and Africa, where many others have tried and failed. The reality is that in order to succeed in emerging markets, you must have a very strong ground game.”