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Nigerian Proptech SmallSmall Raises USD 3 Mn Seed Funding

SmallSmall which gives renters access to monthly rent payments and offers landlords a way to vet tenants, increase their income, and manage properties, has raised USD 3 Mn (USD 2 Mn equity and USD 1 Mn debt) in seed funding. The startup plans to use the money for expansion into other main cities in Nigeria, including Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Jos, before the end of Q1 2023.

The seed round welcomed participation from other investors like Oyster VC, Asymmetry Ventures, Vivaz, and Niche Capital. Individual angels such as Sean Fannan of Chartboost, Adam Meghji of Universe, Jimmy Ku of Flutterwave, Samir Goel and Wemimo Abbey of Esusu, Jason Njoku of Iroko, and Tunde Kara of Vendease also participated. 

To increase the supply pool and create options for customers, SmallSmall rebranded from RentSmallSmall in July. RentSmallSmall allows users to rent housing and pay monthly. BuySmallSmall identifies newly built properties by reputable developers that meet the company’s market demand: studio apartments, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments — and packages them as investment opportunities for young professionals looking to invest in real estate.

Five Startups Announced As MEST Africa Challenge 2022 Finalists

MEST Africa has announced Sproutly (Nigeria), Kweli (Senegal), Swoove (Ghana), Hisa (Kenya), and Desert Green Africa (South Africa) as the startups who will be into the grand finale of the 2022 MEST Africa Challenge pitch competition. The pan-African pitch competition opened applications in July this year for pre-seed and seed-stage technology startups in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, and South Africa to bid for the ultimate prize of USD 50 K. Each startup will represent their country at the Demo Day and Final Pitch Competition that will be held in Accra Ghana in December 2022. 

MAC 2022 is a call for technology startups in 5 African markets, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa to vie for the ultimate prize of USD 50 K in equity investment. Finalists will gain exclusive access to the MEST Community including expert business coaches and mentors, global investors, and a wide selection of perk prizes and packages contributed by MEST partners across the continent. The competition has spotlighted and impacted the growth of winning startups such as Tanzania’s Kilimo Fresh, Ghana’s OZE, South Africa’s Snode Technologies, Kenya’s Waya Waya, and Nigeria’s Accounteer.

MEST is a pan-African software and entrepreneurship training program, seed fund, and incubator helping to launch technology startups across the continent. It is a 12-month program that provides critical skills training in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s burgeoning tech talent. MEST provides seed funding for the best ideas coming out of the program and continues to support the growth and development of its portfolio companies. The program is fully funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Norwegian company Meltwater; a global leader in social and media intelligence headquartered in San Francisco

Kenya’s Mobile Money Agents Aided Financial Inclusion—Now They Face Exclusion

In Ruiru, a town in Kiambu County which sits within the greater Nairobi Metropolitan region and boasts the fourth-largest urban centre in Kenya, Sheila is one of many mobile money agents all over town. Business has not been as good for her and her peers in recent years, she says.

"There are now so many of us [agents] now, a lot of agent shops opened during the Covid-19 period,"  she told WT. "And the rise of merchant payments after Covid has greatly reduced the need to withdraw money and have cash, you can pay for Matatu, Boda Boda, and grocery all direct to merchants, from as low as ten shillings."

Sheila, like Momanyi and Bonnie; two other mobile money shop owners who spoke to WT, say it's hard to make enough money from the business these days as its main source of earnings - primarily commissions from deposits and withdrawals - is dwindling, triggered by realities that suggest the pie is getting smaller as agent shops proliferate while cash-in/cash-out (CICO) transaction...

Moroccan Startup Spotter Raises Funding From UM6P

Morocco-based open finance startup Spotter has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from UM6P Ventures. The announcement was made through a professional networking platform, LinkedIn. The startup intends to avail its product to local banks looking to access accurate banking data of Spotter’s potential customers.

Spotter develops an application programming interface (API)-a driven platform that helps financial institutions to analyze consumer financial data, aiding millions of people in getting greater access to credit while expanding the capabilities of lenders and other fintech companies. The startup uses technologies like optical character recognition (OCR) to offer instant cheque verification to businesses struggling with the growing number of returned cheques. 

Nigerian Fintech Payhippo Acquires Maritime Microfinance Bank

Nigerian credit-led SME fintech, Payhippo has acquired Maritime Microfinance Bank (MFB) to enable its users to accept deposits from its customers and integrate with NIBSS. The acquisition is pending approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria and both parties are working together to obtain the regulator’s approval.  This will also enable Payhippo to have direct access to Nigeria’s Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS).

Maritime seeks to provide quality and tailored financial products and services to meet the needs and expectations of every Nigerian.  The bank has worked on specific lending products for SMEs to empower entrepreneurs in maritime and other sectors of the micro economy. This acquisition will enable MFB to expand its product and services in line with Payhippo’s goal to reach a wider range of SMEs from different sectors by providing access to quick and seamless financing.

Through this acquisition, Payhippo will grow its team with experienced professionals from the MFB team, adding in-depth experience from the banking and finance sector that will be of sustainable value to Payhippo’s growth. The extensive knowledge from the bank’s employees will help Payhippo continue its mission to expand access to finance for SMEs through digital technology.