Sudanese fintech Bloom has raised $6.5 million in seed funding. The latest funding round follows not too long after the fintech’s undisclosed pre-seed round which took place last year. Participants of the seed funding round include fintech company Visa, US-based venture capital firms Global Founders Capital (GFC) and Goodwater Capital, Y Combinator, UAE-based early-stage firm VentureSouq, employees from Revolut and Tide, Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi; former U.S. CEO of N26 – Nicolas Kopp, and footballers Blaise Matuidi and Kieran Gibbs.
Bloom is a fintech company that offers high-yield savings and complementary digital banking services. Bloom’s seed round sets the record for the largest in Sudan and it is notable because the country’s startup space is quite passive and foreign investments in the space do not occur often. Bloom was founded by Ahmed Ismail, Youcef Oudjidane, Khalid Keenan, and Abdigani Diriye as a way to help citizens protect themselves against rising devaluation and help them with wealth creation.
The startup provides free accounts for its users, allows them to save in dollars, and spend in Sudanese pounds. Users also get to enjoy local and dollar cards and a feature where they can receive remittances from several countries (mostly countries where Sudanese diaspora live) for free.
The investment Bloom received from global payments Visa came as an incentive for participating in its global card scheme’s Fintech Fast Track Program. This became a partnership that resulted in Bloom switching its cards from Mastercard to Visa. Speaking about the investment from Visa and the partnership they both share, Bloom’s CEO Ahmed Ismail said that “The Visa investment is critical for companies like us for a couple of reasons. One, aligning with Visa as a partner gives you a bunch of benefits, launching products faster, marketing support, and product support; and two, in addition to the investment, Visa Fintech Fast Track enables you to access these incentives in a streamlined way.” Notably, Bloom is the first Sudanese startup to make it into the Visa program.
Bloom’s relationship with Y Combinator started after the startup participated in its winter batch. Bloom announced its participation in Y Combinator’s in March this year just after it launched from stealth that year.
According to the startup’s founders, the seed funding will help the startup which is based in Sudan and Dubai to fuel its expansion plan across the Anglo-East African region, and countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Rwanda are at the top of its list. Bloom will be competing with Finclusion, Fingo, and Koa when it enters this space.
“Our product is live in Sudan. The plan is to scale in the country and then expand to other markets. We anticipate being in at least one market before the end of the year and a couple more early next year,” the startup’s CEO Ahmed Ibrahim said.
Both Bloom and Visa believe that the investment and partnership they share can help drive a growth in the expansion of Visa cards in Sudan and East Africa while allowing them to make fast online payments. “Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants,” Ahmed Mohey, Visa country general manager for Sudan and Libya said.
“We are very excited by our investment in Bloom. Its experienced and talented founding team has the drive and expertise to build a product that is universally valued by consumers, partners, and regulators in Sudan and the wider East Africa region,” Roel Janssen, a partner at Global Founders Capital, said commenting on Bloom’s seed funding.