As the weeks roll into months and the pandemic continues to rage the world, more African startups keep securing millions in pre-seed and other fundings from various VC firms.

Recall that a couple of startups raised over $600K in investments a while back.

In the same light, Okra —  Nigerian fintech platform — has raised a $1 million pre-seed funding from TLcom Capital, Lagos, Nairobi, and London-based venture capital firm.

Founded in June 2019 by Nigerians — Fara Ashiru Jituboh and David Peterside — the startup claims to be the “first API in Africa to retrieve real-time financial data from a bank account to any web or mobile app.” The platform enables users to connect their bank accounts with third-party applications.

Okra is building the industry’s “super-connector” by creating a secure portal and process to exchange financial information back and forth between customers, applications, and banks.

In a statement shared with smepeaks, Okra reveals the new pre-seed funding will be used to scale the team and operations as it caters to the growing client base which already has the capacity to onboard new clients in under 24 hours.

The Lagos-based startup also claims to have seen a 175% rise in demand since its launch in March 2020 as more companies are digitising their services due to COVID-19 pandemic.

It is noteworthy that the $1million investment in Okra marks TLcom’s first investment in the fintech sector and Andreata Muforo, Partner at TLcom will join Okra’s board as part of the deal.

TLcom initially concentrated on Series A and later investments but now, it appears the firm has begun seed funding with Okra as its first. The venture capital firm has also invested in Kenyan ag-tech startup — Twiga Foods — and a trucking logistics firm in Nigeria, Kobo360.

Commenting on the new funding and model of the startup, Fara mentioned in the statement that “Our thesis is simple — financial innovation cannot exist without the proper infrastructure, which is data. Essentially, how far the African fintech sector can grow is intrinsically tied to the success of infrastructure like Okra and with our core market in Nigeria, we’re opening the door to another level of innovation in Africa’s largest market.

“There are approximately 125 million bank accounts in Nigeria alone – but over the course of the next two years, we will see that figure rise exponentially, which presents huge opportunities for growth.”

Though, the startup didn’t disclose what African countries it’s taking the product to and when as it looks to connect bank accounts to apps to new African countries.

Since its launch in March 2020, Okra disclosed that it has connected its API with 17 commercial banks in Nigeria and also other companies like Renmoney, Bamboo, Wakanow, AIICO Insurance, Branch, among others.

Having connected its API with these commercial banks, the startup then generates profit from every time an individual links its bank account to a customer and also from the fee charged from using the product.

A report also has it that Okra has already created a robust clientele list that comprises of online payments startups like Carbon, online bank Branch, insurer Axa Mansard, and Nigerian digital lender Renmoney.


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