Djamo, a financial super app for consumers in Francophone Africa, is the primary startup from Ivory Coast to gain backing from Y Combinator.
Whereas there has been a sizable profusion of financial products and services that have emerged in latest years in Africa, Djamo’s mission is to attempt to hasten one particular and very underserved gap in Francophone Africa.
In the plight, less than 25% of adults have bank accounts, as the point of interest for banks remains the tip 10-20% wealthiest customers. The relaxation, which is a sizable phase of the market of about 120 million folks, is no longer perceived as profitable. But as banks slacked, cell cash from the plight’s telcos stuffed in the gap. In the last 10 years, their wallets have reached more than 60% of the population — proof of how many millions of French-speaking natives have been hungry for financial products and services. Today, this cell cash infrastructure and reach allows startups to acquire upon their existing payment infrastructure to democratize access via varied applications.
Djamo is one such company taking advantage of this alternative to bring affordable and seamless banking to the plight.
In 2019, Hassan Bourgi, a second-time founder, returned to Ivory Coast after exiting his Latin American-based startup, Busportal, to Naspers-company redBus. There he met Régis Bamba who was detached working at MTN, one in all Africa’s largest telcos, leading several cell cash initiatives.
Frustrated by the unpleasant banking experiences they and many millennials faced in the country, Bourgi and Bamba launched Djamo last year to challenge the banking industry status quo.
“Banking products and services are really demanding to access right here, and we saw that as a sizable alternative,” Djamo CEO Bourgi told TechCrunch. “Since day one, we wanted to develop a cell-first platform that may break into the masses and our combined expertise building mass-market shopper products was very critical to launching Djamo.”
According to Bourgi, the country’s millennials are trying to create relations with expertise companies and be served in a totally different way from the norm. So, Djamo is providing this audience with a greater front-finish expertise and faster customer provider.
Rather than offering a one-size-suits-all approach, they involved about accommodating a couple of layers tailored to varied person wishes. Whether or no longer it’s affording Ivorians the plush to pay for online products and services admire Amazon, Alibaba or Netflix, or providing Visa debit cards in a timely fashion, these tailored approaches have made Djamo grow organically via notice of mouth.
And why no longer? Before Djamo came along, the CEO says folks would wish to head to their bank branches and stay in lengthy queues to gain their cards and even load them with credit. Djamo relieves that stress and even allows customers to exercise their cards with zero bills in a broad range of products and services.
“For us, it was important to present a zero-fee card with out a recurring fee to a certain limit. After that, you pay as you prance in transaction bills. There is a top rate plan around $4 a month where users can transact to increased limits,” said Bourgi.
Today, Djamo claims to have around 90,000 registered users and processes over 50,000 transactions month-to-month. Nonetheless, to gain to this point, the company has ridden on sheer resourcefulness around its operations.
In contrast to Nigeria, where there are established payment infrastructure players admire Flutterwave and Paystack, Ivory Coast doesn’t have such household names.
“We have a couple of suppliers, nevertheless most are unreliable. But this doesn’t matter to the finish-person, you have to make it work in some way,” said Bamba, the company’s CPO and CTO.
Lacking greater alternatives, Djamo switches from one provider to another to maintain operations running. The year-former startup has also faced scepticism, general with most African fintech startups after they first launch. In Djamo’s case though, the founders had to head to lengths to point to to banks and customers that the platform was safe to exercise for onboarding, KYC and transactions.
Onboarding customers also came with its have assign of issues: the transport of Djamo Visa cards. Bourgi says in contrast to more developed nations on the continent, it is a Herculean task to access environment friendly transport and logistics products and services in Ivory Coast. So, the startup built a transport app with in-house transport agents for this particular cause. “The aim for our customers is that after registering with us, they gain their cards the next day in a timely fashion,” Bourgi added.
But even before pushing out its MVP, Djamo had already obtained monetary validation for its product. In June 2019, it raised a pre-seed investment of $350,000 from private investors — arguably the largest round at this stage in the Francophone plight. The ingenuity of the resolution, at least to French-speaking Africa, and the founders’ track file, was crucial to Djamo closing the round, Hassan explained.
For a very lengthy time, Francophone Africa has been underrated by international investors, despite indicators pointing to the emergence of a budding startup scene. Part of this has to accomplish with language barriers and the plight’s GDP and income per capita where English-speaking nations, excluding South Africa, make contributions to 47% of sub-Saharan Africa’s average GDP, while French-speaking nations boast of handiest 19%.
Nonetheless, with the World Bank stating that the plight will have 62.5% of Africa’s fastest-growing economies by 2021, there’s bullishness around its growth in the coming years.
With so many untapped alternatives, underrepresented regions admire Francophone Africa are ripe for disruption. Investors know this and though their checks are detached skewed toward Anglophone Africa, million-dollar raises from Senegalese vitality startup, Oolu and Cameroonian healthtech startup, Healthlane in 2020 point to their keenness on the market.
Like Djamo, each startups are YC-backed and are the varied Francophone startups to have made it into the accelerator. But with this Winter 2021 batch, Djamo turns into the primary fintech startup from the plight. Following Healthlane’s acceptance in 2020, it is also the primary time French-speaking Africa has had representatives for consecutive years.
To the founders, YC’s backing validates Djamo’s premise that financial provider distribution across the Francophone Africa plight is fundamentally changing toward applications.
“In Ivory Coast, folks always say that the banking industry is too advanced and we can’t accomplish anything about it. But we saw it as a sizable alternative and a great industry to take on. In each single place you learn about frustration, customers in pain, there is an alternative for a business to near and accomplish it greater,” said Bamba.
After participating in the three-month-lengthy program, which culminates in a Demo Day on March 23rd, Djamo will also take part in Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program, an avenue for the company to leverage the fintech giant’s network to introduce new payment experiences.