Home » San Francisco-based Nigerian entrepreneur leads startup to successful $1.5-million round

San Francisco-based Nigerian entrepreneur leads startup to successful $1.5-million round

by Omokolade Ajayi
Tolu Alabi

In a recent pre-seed funding round, Cleva Banking, the San Francisco-based fintech startup led by Nigerian entrepreneur Tolu Alabi, successfully raised $1.5 million.

The investment, led by 1984 Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm in San Francisco, also saw participation from prominent venture capital firms, including The Raba Partnership, Byld Ventures, FirstCheck Africa, and various angel investors.

Cleva Banking, founded just 10 months ago, specializes in assisting African individuals and businesses in receiving international payments by facilitating the opening of USD accounts. The $1.5-million funding injection will be instrumental in supporting the company’s ambitious plans for expansion beyond its current operations in Nigeria.

Cleva Banking, co-founded by Tolu Alabi, secures funding to expand Its USD payment platform for non-U.S. residents

Co-founded by CEO Tolu Alabi, whose extensive technical and product experience includes roles at major companies like Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Stripe, AWS, and WhatsApp Inc, Cleva Banking aims to provide the best banking platform for non-US residents to receive payments in USD and manage their finances effectively. 

Alabi, expressing her passion for simplifying and elevating the global experience through technology, emphasized the persistent challenges Africans face in receiving international payments, a concern identified through secondhand experience and extensive research.

The recent funding will play a crucial role in driving the growth of Cleva Banking, enabling the rollout of upcoming products, including USD cards and savings in U.S. assets. The company envisions diversifying its revenue streams to strengthen its position in the market.

Global ambitions: Cleva Banking targets a $18-billion opportunity beyond Nigeria

While focusing on Nigeria for its initial launch, where users can open USD accounts with the required Bank Verification Number (BVN) and government-issued ID, Alabi sees the problem they’re addressing as a global one. She believes that the market opportunity extends beyond Nigeria, estimating the facilitation of payments for remote workers and freelancers in Africa to be an $18 billion opportunity.

Alabi stated, “We’re starting with Nigeria because we know the market, and it’s also a big market. But we feel like because of our backgrounds, we’re very well positioned to solve this problem at a global scale.”

In the four months since its launch, Cleva Banking has successfully facilitated the opening of U.S.-based accounts for “thousands” of Nigerians, processing more than $1 million in monthly payments. The fintech has experienced remarkable month-on-month revenue growth of 100 percent, highlighting its swift progress and market acceptance.

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