Julaya, a fintech startup based in France and Côte d’Ivoire, raised USD$2M pre-series A funding with business angels and venture capital funds to grow and expand its product in West Africa. The company operates in the B2B payments sector and provides African businesses and public institutions with an online platform to disburse payments to mobile money and mobile banking wallets. Their customers range from SMBs to large corporates and government institutions and include famous brands such as the e-commerce startup giant Jumia.
“Having worked in the nascent mobile money industry, we realized that the large consumer penetration of telecom operators would benefit businesses that wanted to reach the unbanked and make fast payments. Our platform Julaya enables companies to streamline their accounting. They improve their operational efficiency by digitizing their payments to workers and suppliers.” explains Mathias Léopoldie, co-founder and CEO.
The mobile money market is booming all over Africa: in Ivory Coast, Julaya’s first market, 75% of the population owns a mobile money account whereas less than 25% of Ivorians have a bank account. Transactions and customers growth rates are astonishing (>20% yearly), and West Africa is one of the most dynamic regions in the continent :
Fintech received almost half of all venture capital investment in Africa in S1 2021, making it the hottest investment sector in the continent :
In June 2021, Julaya thus received funding from corporate venture capital firms Orange Ventures & MFS Africa Frontiers, VC firms Saviu Ventures, Launch Africa Ventures, 50 Partners Capital and business angels from Europe and Africa. The amount raised will be dedicated to broadening their Ivorian market share, launching new digital payment products, and for market expansion throughout West Africa.
Habib Bamba, Director of Transformation, Digital, and Media at Orange Côte d’Ivoire, explains the reason behind this strategic investment for Orange Ventures: “Fintech’s environment in Africa is distinguished by its competitiveness and strong dynamism. Orange Group, through its technology investment fund, intends to participate in this boom by supporting fintech such as Julaya. The goal is to target local technology champions at the service of the transition to a more digital and responsible world. This funding will allow Julaya to grow and conquer West Africa with Orange Digital Center team’s support.”
The company works with telecom operators and other fintech startups to provide their customers with a flawless user experience, often being their first digital experience to transact in an economy still cash-based. The company’s name “Julaya” means “trade” in the Bambara language and is understood all over West Africa, in line with its goal to digitize trade payments.
“Mobile money is coming to a mature stage where business and public institutions use-cases provide new growth opportunities for the sector. The covid19 pandemic has opened up minds about the urge to digitize payments. Fintech competition in West Africa is making digital finance more affordable for consumers and technical integrations with telecom operators are becoming more reliable” says Charles Talbot, co-founder, and CTO.
Julaya was founded in 2018 by Mathias Léopoldie and Charles Talbot. They both previously worked at French payment fintech LemonWay on their service in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Julaya has two offices :
- R&D and IT team in Paris, France (also working remotely),
- Operational Office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
It employs 16 people across all offices.
It previously raised USD 250k in 2018 and USD 550k in 2019/2020 with business angels.