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SA fintech JUMO secures first two commitments in new funding round

SA fintech JUMO has secured equity funding from French development agency Proparco and Finnish development finance company Finnfund — the first commitments to a new funding round, the startup’s founder Andrew Watkins-Ball revealed yesterday.

The startup’s platform helps facilitates digital financial services such as credit and savings in emerging markets. The Finnish development took part in a A$24-million debt facility last year (see this earlier story).

In a call from London yesterday, Watkins-Ball told Ventureburn that the commitments from Proparco and Finnfund were secured six weeks ago. He declined to reveal the value of the funding, but said each of the organisations have taken a single-digit equity in return for the funding.

He said the remainder of the commitments would be closed once the necessary regulatory process to do so is concluded.

JUMO has secured commitments from Proparco and Finnfund as part of a new funding round

This regulatory process, he said, takes about six months to conclude, conceding that the lengthy process is just “the nature of the beast”.

The startup — founded in 2014 by Watkins-Ball — is already active in seven African countries — South Africa (no lending, only an office), Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as in Pakistan and Singapore.

Since the startup’s inception about 7.5 million customers have used the platform to either save or source credit — of which about 75% are small business owners, he said

The funding would be used for expansion and in reaching more customers, he added.

Turning to Africa, Watkins-Ball described the market opportunity in the continent’s countries as “still fantastic”. But would the company ever enter the South African market, asked Ventureburn.

Watkins-Ball said the company has no plan to serve customers there “at the moment” — simply because the number of unbanked customers is nowhere near as high as in some of the other countries it serves (where he said it approached 80% unbanked).

It therefore doesn’t make sense to enter the SA market, at least any time soon.

At the beginning of this year Watkins-Ball relocated to Singapore with his family, in a bid to drive the company’s growth into South-East Asia and is  still busy setting up a team there and getting used to the heat and humidity (being close to Phuket and Indonesia is a plus, he conceded)

He described the island state as a country with a “supportive regulatory environment” when it came to fintech and “business friendly”. In addition there were many payments suppliers and digital wallet firms based there, he said.

Lying just one degrees north of the equator, things it seems are really hotting up for the JUMO founder. But scale he must. All eyes will be watching to see what big deals come next.

Featured image: JUMO founder Andrew Watkins-Ball (Supplied)

*Correction: JUMO is in fact active in seven and not six African countries — we accidentally excluded Uganda. We regret the error.