Ejara is a Cameroonian startup looking to “democratize access to investment and savings products across the region, using blockchain technology.” It offers users an investment platform that lets them buy cryptocurrencies and save via decentralized wallets.
The fintech startup has secured $8 million in a Series A investment round led by London-based venture capital firm Anthemis and crypto-focused fund Dragonfly Capital. Anthemis led the startup’s $2 million seed round last October, making this round a follow-up investment. Other investors that participated in the round include; Coinshares Ventures, Mercy Corps Ventures, and Lateral Capital, all old investors. New investors that bet on the startup include Moonstake, Circle Ventures, Emurgo, BPI Finance, and Haskey Group. Blockwoks’ co-founder Jason Yanowitz is one of the angel investors that participated in the round.
For founders, Nelly Chatue-Diop and Baptiste Andrieux, Ejara was a way to increase cryptocurrency activity in Cameroun and Francophone Africa. Thus the startup allows Francophone Africans to buy, sell, exchange, and store their cryptocurrency investments. However, instead of providing custodial wallets to users, the fintech offered users the option of non-custodial wallets. This way, they could own and store their keys. This idea was a brilliant one, especially with the current state of the crypto industry following several collapses with FTX’s being the latest of them all.
“When everyone was taking the other route and building centralized exchanges, we always thought that, if you want to own crypto, you need to own your keys. And that’s pretty much what’s saved us in turbulent times,” Nelly Chatue-Diop explained. Ejara is thriving in an area where there is limited access to financial products and access to financial information is also limited. With Ejara, people can connect their mobile money accounts and make cross-border payments using stablecoins.
Ejara has seen its users grow astronomically thanks to its mode of operation. As of last October, the platform has only 8,000 users. It now has more than 70,000 users across Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and others.
According to Nelly Chatue-Diop, the fintech has had revenue growth of 10X and 15 percent growth in its month-on-month transaction volume since last October. Ejara was able to achieve all these with the current state of the cryptocurrency industry. The fintech now expects to reach 100,000 users by the end of the year.
Nelly Chatue-Diop describes the fintech’s savings product as one of a kind, that’s completely different from what is being offered in the crypto world.
“In an ecosystem where many people around the world are trying to find use cases for blockchain technology, Ejara has demonstrated that startups in emerging markets are likely to pioneer many such innovations in web3,” Ejara added. Ejara said that users do not need to set up a bank account to access this product, all they need is to download the app and deposit a minimum of 1,000 CFA franc. Savers get to earn up to 10 percent interest on two-year deposits. Nelly Chatue-Diop emphasized that Ejara is going up against the traditional banking system with its savings product. “The competition for treasury bonds is with the traditional asset managers and banks. And given the way they are structured, they mainly target high-net-worth individuals and institutions like other banks or insurance companies. Nobody is targeting the woman selling the markets or the man driving a motorbike for a living. And because we structure the product the way we do, we have many people come to our platform because they can save up to 1000 CFA franc daily,” she said.
“Conscious of the challenges across the zone, Ejara does not intend to limit itself to being a crypto app, but rather to become a one-stop-shop for products tailored to the needs of Africans: a shop where a suite of financial products will be accessible at their fingertips, without the need for any crypto knowledge,” Ruth Foxe Blader, partner at Anthemis, said while commenting on the potential of the fintech startup.