Appzone to invest in expansion across Africa
Nigerian financial technology software provider, Appzone has raised $10 million in series A investment to scale its products and services and expand across more African countries.
The Series A round was led by CardinalStone Capital Advisers, a Lagos-based investment firm. Other investors include V8 Capital, Constant Capital, and Itanna Capital Ventures. New York-based but Africa-focused firm Lateral Investment Partners also participated.
The fintech which is one of the few companies that builds proprietary solutions for these financial institutions and their banking and payments services was founded by Emeka Emetarom, Obi Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi in 2008.
Appzone platforms are used by 18 commercial banks and more than 450 microfinance banks in Africa. Together, they amass a yearly transaction value and yearly loan disbursement of $2 billion and $300 million, respectively.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Appzone, Obi Emetarom told TechCrunch that the company is coming out to blitz scale its products and services after working in stealth mode for more than a decade. One way it wants to carry this out will be to take its pan-African expansion seriously even though a large part of its 450 clients are based in Nigeria.
Other countries with a presence include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Tanzania, and Senegal. Before now, Appzone lacked the resources to push into these markets aggressively even though they showed promise. But having closed its Series A, the plan is to drive growth in these countries and expand across more African countries.
He said another means Appzone plans to achieve scale is by growing its engineering team, a department in which it takes pride. These engineers make up half of Appzone’s 150 employees and there are plans to double down on this number.
Like most Nigerian startups these days, Appzone is big on senior engineers. Still, while it might present a problem to other companies, Emetarom says the company has no issue training promising junior talent to grow in expertise.
“Our proprietary tech allows us to innovate at a fraction of a cost, and they are built by essentially the best local talent available. Because those systems are really complex and the level of innovation required is on another level, we literally seek out the top 1% of talent in Nigeria,” he remarked.
“We know that even though the expertise isn’t there, we can accelerate acquiring that expertise when we train the very best talent. The more we train our engineers, the faster they grow in terms of expertise, and they will be able to deliver at the same level of world-class quality we expect.“
Before now, Appzone closed a $2 million round from South African Business Connexion (BCX) in 2014. Four years later, it raised $2.5 million in convertible debt and bought back shares from BCX in the process. But overall, the company says it has raised $15 million in equity funding.
Speaking on the investment, the co-founder and managing director of CardinalStone Capital Advisers Yomi Jemibewon, said the firm’s investment in Appzone is further proof of Africa’s potential as the future hub of world-class technology.
“Appzone is building a disruptive fintech ecosystem that will be the backbone of Africa’s finance industry with products across payments, infrastructure, and software as a service. The impact of Appzone’s work is multifold, the company’s products deepen financial inclusion across the continent whilst providing best-fit and low-cost solutions to financial institutions. Its emphasis on premium talent also helps stem brain drain, rewarding Africa’s best brains with best in class employment opportunities,” he added.