Dukapay Ltd (better known as Tanda), the Kenya-based startup focused on financial inclusion and micro-retail, has secured an undisclosed amount of investment from South African venture capital investment firm, HAVAÍC, in a “syndicated seed round”.
The deal was struck at the tail-end of last year and this announcement comes just a week after HAVAÍC lifted the lid on another other funding deal closed within the same period.
Tanda was co-founded in Nairobi by Geoffrey Mulei and Alex Wilson with the aim of providing access to digital financial services and affordable agency banking for the underbanked population in Kenya and the rest of East Africa.
With 3,500 ATMs across Kenya for a population of 50 million, lack of access and expensive alternatives are the norms faced by a large portion of the populace who are incredibly sensitive to price.
Boasting several years of experience in distribution networks, digital financial services, and duka (micro-retailer) networks between them, Geoff and Alex can lay claim to a good grip on what the market requires, and how to scale the business. Plus, the duo has been joined by an ex-Safaricom, M-Pesa, and Kopo Kopo distribution Senior Manager to grow the reach of the network.
Off the back of an angel-funded pilot, Tanda successfully brought much-needed financial services to over 350,000 Kenyan’s through 7,000 micro-retailers.
As seen in a press release, Mulei commented on development as follows: “We’re excited about the opportunity to help millions of underbanked Africans to gain access to essential financial services from their favorite duka, but know that it’s a long and hard road ahead.
“We are working systematically to increase our distribution while growing our bouquet of services. The investment and support from HAVAIC has come at a good time and is proving very valuable with key relationships”
The Tanda platform allows for a micro-retailer to offer a wide range of digital services such as airtime, prepaid electricity, bill payments, and other services to their customers.
This is all done on the existing smartphones of the micro-retailers. This has reduced the cost of acquiring new agents and reduced competition for counter space with normal terminal POS-type devices.
Due to Tanda’s aggregated backend, the cost savings are shared by the micro-retailer and Tanda, thus empowering retailers with additional revenue streams and diversifying their product range at no cost.
HAVAÍC’s Rob Heath said: “Geoff, Alex and the rest of the senior management really understand the market they are attacking. They are not sitting in some ivory tower making broad assumptions. They took me around the streets of Kayole, Nairobi and showed me Tanda in action – working on a variety of smartphones.
“Like HAVAIC’s other investments in the region, Tanda is positively affecting many thousands of peoples’ lives by supporting small businesses, and it has offered an excellent investment opportunity. As an investor and board member, this is the type of business that makes me get up in the morning.”
Another problem Tanda is tackling is the dearth of ATM services and Bank Branches in Kenya. Despite M-Pesa’s pervasiveness and success in Kenya, it is still very expensive and/or difficult to access digital financial services for the majority of the population.
Despite the many different banks plus over 3,000 community banks (SACCOs) which Kenyans rely on for traditional current and savings accounts, access to these accounts is still restricted to the limited ATMs and Bank Branches.
Tanda has made cash-in and cashout services available at the micro retailers signed up as Tanda agents. The startup’s integration with one of Kenyans’ largest banks — a SACCO aggregator that is also one of Africa’s largest switching service providers — increases Kenyans’ access to cash services through this virtual ATM network.
This helps Kenyans save money and access their savings at a fraction of the cost that is currently available to them. Tanda is banking on stimulating nationwide growth by helping to ease the movement from a cash-based to a digital economy.