Cryptocurrency adoption in Africa varies regionally. While currently seeing widespread use in countries with volatile currencies such as the naira, the CFA has been rarely adopted in other regions using the franc..
With a region of over 200 million people using the CFA franc, Francophone Africa is one of the most crypto-friendly market in Africa. But only a few players are taking advantage of the market, which could make the case for mobile money and investment apps in Africa as the next frontier..
As a result, Ejara, a year old company established by nelly Chatue-Diop raises $2 million to pioneer the use of crypto and investment services in the region.
CoinShares Ventures and Antemis Group led the round. They are connected to Mercy Corps Ventures, Lateral Capital, LoftyInk Capital and NetX Fund. Two angel investors – Pascal Gauthier of Ledger and Jason Yanowitz of Blockworks – and a syndicate social fund also participated..
While the founder and CEO Chateau Diop studied and Later held some high executive roles in Europe over a span of 10 years A nudge to come back to Francophone Africa to start a company. That nudge was the culmination of past events mixed with present opportunities.
Growing up in Douala, Cameroon, the family of Chateau-Diop experienced a life-changing experience when France devalued the CFA franc in 1994. According to him, this put his family (and millions of others) in financial trouble.
“I was Really The youth and we were part of the middle class. all our savings overnight decreased And the result was that the government could not even pay salaries,” she said over a call to Nerdshala. “So even at that young age, I asked myself how we managed to fix everything and still end up in that zone. So it stayed in my mind.”
In 2015, she got introduced to blockchain and felt it was the right technology to solve the problems she faced while growing up. “It helped me understand that people can have complete control over their savings, income and they can protect and grow their wealth,” she said..
Therefore, he partnered with a longtime friend and serial entrepreneur, Baptiste Andreux, to start Ezra in Cameroon and the larger francophone arena..
In generalCryptocurrencies in Francophone Africa are reserved for a few elites who want to diversify their wealth.. Ejara wants to level this playing field for the average French-speaking African so that they can invest as little as 5,000 CFA (~$9).
“The inherent transparency and security of blockchain, combined with the popularity of mobile banking in Africa, made it clear to me that a blockchain-based mobile investment platform was the key to expanding financial inclusion,” said the CEO.. “But since all these crypto companies were popping up left and right, I felt that very few people were talking to Francophone Africans like me.”
She says crypto was ideal to launch because it represents one in terms of having complete control over one’s assets. A recurring topic that arises when there is general discussion about cryptocurrencies are making There is a wallet to be used in connection with the custody of private keys.
With a custodial wallet, third-party companies hold the private key but are non-custodial. Wallets let users hold and store their keys. And Although the conversation around crypto investment and retail is one of control, custodial wallets, which provide most crypto platforms in Africa, do not provide that much control to users.
Ezra said it is big on security, privacy and ownership, which is why it is taking measures to give its users non-custodial wallets so that they can buy, sell, exchange and store their crypto investments securely. .
Nevertheless, the company also plans to diversify into providing other assets, including fractional shares, stocks and commodities..
Ezra has over 8,000 users of French-speaking Africans in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Senegal, as well as diaspora (Europe, Asia and the Americas), and caters to them through a Partnering with crypto payment infrastructure company Moonpay to send money to friends and family in Africa. aAll this was done with zero marketing budget, says CEO.
Talking about users, Chatue-Diop classifies them into two groups: majority who buy crypto to save for future plans and business owners who make frequent transactions.
“In Africa, most people do not have a safety net called retirement funds and some clients use Ezra for this. There are users, especially mothers, who use the platform to invest in their children’s college education. Huh. then we have a small parts Customer base who are wholesalers and deal in large volumes; They use crypto to finance and buy their goods from foreign suppliers through this method.”
Ezra will see focus in seed investment On Large scale Upon development, the company’s roadmap includes the deployment of features and the expansion of the product and technical team.
CoinShares’ Meltem Demirors talks about the opportunity in Francophone Africa and the lack of funding in the region. Despite francophone Africa accounting for about 25% of the continent’s population, he says startups in the region have attracted less than 1% of venture capital – bUt believes that Ezra’s funding round offers a glimmer of hope, especially given a . In To a large extent Untapped space as fintech.
“we are excited to work with nelly and the Ezra team to deliver financial services through a non-custodial wallet and provide a new level of trust and transparency to francophone savers and investors,” Demirors said..
As for Anthemis and why they invested, Anthemis partner Ruth Fox Bladder said the firm was special about how Ezra educates people in Francophone Africa on digital assets and democratizes wealth creation opportunities.