Crypto Platform Ejara Raises $8M, Targets 100K Users by Year End
By Christy Animam
Ejara, a Cameroonian fintech offering an investment app that allows users to buy crypto and save through decentralized wallets, has raised $8 million in Series A investment.
London-based venture capital firm Anthemis co-led the growth round alongside crypto-focused fund Dragonfly Capital. Anthemis is a follow-on investor in Ejara, having also led the fintech’s $2 million seed round announced last October.
Participating VC firms in this new financing include other follow-on investors Mercy Corps Ventures, Coinshares Ventures and Lateral Capital — and new investors such as Circle Ventures, Moonstake, Emurgo, Hashkey Group and BPI France. Jason Yanowitz, co-founder of Blockworks, is one of the angels in the round.
Ejara wants to “democratize access to investment and savings products across the region, using blockchain technology.” While its recently launched savings product where it tokenizes government bonds is one of the ways it uses blockchain, so is its crypto product, which was pivotal to the two-year-old startup raising $10 million in less than 18 months.
By providing users in Francophone Africa with an option to buy, sell, exchange and store their crypto investments, CEO Nelly Chatue-Diop and her co-founder Baptiste Andrieux saw an opportunity to increase crypto activity in the region.
However, unlike most crypto platforms in Africa that provide custodial wallets to users, Ejara offered customers the option of non-custodial wallets so they could own and store their keys.
That decision paid off, especially during this period when the collapse of FTX and other crypto organizations continue to underscore the need for customers to prioritize privacy and ownership when dealing with crypto and tokenized assets.
“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,” Chatue-Diop said to TechCrunch over a call.
Ejara’s crypto product has caught on fast with users in a region where access to financial products is limited to the most informed and wealthy.
In addition to connecting their mobile money accounts and accessing crypto, users could also make cross-border transactions via stablecoins. As a result, users on the platform have grown in multiples over the last 14 months.
Last October, it had 8,000 users from Cameroon, its first market, and others, including Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Senegal. Now, it counts more than 70,000 users across nine Francophone African countries.
Chatue-Diop, who noted that Ejara has seen 10x revenue growth and achieved a 15% month-on-month transaction volume growth since last October despite crypto’s meltdown, expects users on the platform to reach 100,000 by the end of the year.
Its savings product, which Ejara described in a statement as the first of its kind in the crypto world, was launched to get it there. “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,” the company added.