Middle East and Africa fintech funding round-up: Zenda, Pemo, Afriex & Laboremus

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Zenda, a Dubai-based fintech app for school fees, has secured $9.4 million in a seed funding round.

Founded in 2021, Zenda enables families to track dues and make payments through pay-now and pay-later options, and unlock rewards for paying on time. The platform integrates with schools through its API to eliminate reconciliation challenges and delays.

The company claims to have received strong market traction with schools and families.

It says its user base has grown 20x since June 2021 and that its annual volume crossed $100 million by Q4 2021, across the UAE and India.

“Part of the fee payment ecosystem still runs on cash or cheque with no convenient option to pay later,” says CEO and founder Raman Thiagarajan.

“Zenda schools are witnessing a systematic increase in their collections.”

UAE-based fintech start-up Pemo has raised $12 million in a seed round co-led by Cherry Ventures and Shorooq Partners.

Also participating were FinTech Collective, Speedinvest, BY Venture Partners and Antler, among others.

Pemo says that the new funds will be used to drive product development and expansion across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, with plans to kickstart its Saudi Arabia operations by the end of 2022.

The fintech offers fast, transparent and simplified invoice payment and expense management solutions and smart corporate cards for SMEs in the region.

Ayham Gorani, co-founder and CEO of Pemo, says: “We’re operating in a region where more than 90% of businesses are SMEs, many of which rely heavily on multiple platforms, processes and entities to manage their corporate spending, creating a number of challenges, such as irregular expense reports and high costs.

“This is exactly the day-to-day friction we are removing by combining all spend management functions in one hub. Ultimately, this helps businesses to save money and time, while empowering team members to make purchasing decisions quickly and responsibly.”

Nigerian fintech start-up Afriex has secured $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital China and Dragonfly Capital, with participation from Goldentree, Stellar Foundation and Exceptional Capital, among others.

Founded in 2019, Afriex is a money transfer system that utilises blockchain technology to allow users to send and receive money from anywhere in the world.

The firm originally focused on the Nigerian market, but the fintech start-up has since expanded into Uganda, Kenya and Ghana.

Afriex claims it processes around $5 million in monthly transfers, and its customer base has grown by 500% in the last six months.

In March 2021, it received $1.2 million in a seed round led by Launch Africa.

Ugandan B2B fintech Laboremus has received an undisclosed amount in seed funding from DOB Equity and FCA Investments.

Laboremus’ SaaS platform enables banks and fintechs to verify their customers’ identities and onboard them through a combination of KYC and AML checks.

Current clients include Standard Chartered, a.o. Equity Bank, dfcu Bank and pan-African fintech Wave.

With the funding, Laboremus plans to grow its fintech platform in Uganda and neighbouring markets, and expand its product offerings by adding new channels and verification services.

Timothy Musoke, CEO and co-founder of Laboremus, says: “Access to credit is what stands between the haves and the have-nots in a modern economy.”

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