JUMO, a South African financial technology startup that helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets gain access to funds, has secured $120 million in a new unnamed round of funding. The round was piloted by Fidelity Management and Research Company, marking the company’s first investment in an African company. The round also saw participation from fintech giant Visa, and investment management firm Kingsway Capital.
The latest cash injection, which comes a year after a $55 million fundraise in similar unnamed funding round, increases the company’s total funding to $200 million and values the company at $400 million.
JUMO was founded in 2015 by Andrew Watkins-Ball, a South African-born former City banker, to provide access to loans to businesses in developing markets. According to him, it was crystal clear that a lack of banking infrastructure was holding back businesses in developing markets, “as a vast majority of people couldn’t get hold of basic money.”
The company, which describes itself as a banking-as-a-service platform, says it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to power financial services, particularly lending in emerging markets where over 1.7 billion people do not have basic access to financial services. JUMO is especially tackling this challenge of fund inaccessibility through its core products offerings such as savings and credit to customers and businesses, as well as infrastructure to banks, fintechs and eMoney operators, including MTN, Airtel, Tigo, Ecobank, Absa, Letshego, Mansa Bank and Telenor.
In terms of active operational markets, the startup is present in six African markets — Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ivory Coast, and South Asian country Pakistan. So far, JUMO has served loans worth over $3.5 billion to more than 18 million customers across these markets, granting up to 120 million individual loans.
Fidelity’s participation in JUMO’s round adds to a growing list of US investors who have invested for the first time in African tech, especially in the space of fintech. “It’s exciting to be part of the wave of US capital being invested in payments and fintech on the continent – there are some great businesses being built and we are proud to play a role supporting capital providers to reach customers with great products,” remarked Andrew Watkins-Ball, JUMO’s Chief Executive Officer.
Commenting on the funding round, Melissa McSherry, the global head of Risk and Identity Services at Visa said: “JUMO’s lending platform is highly attractive in its ability to scale across markets and drive financial inclusion by creating access to credit for consumers and small businesses. We are excited about our investment in JUMO and are looking forward to accelerating adoption of JUMO’s platform across markets and delivering on Visa’s mission of helping individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive.”
With the fresh capital, JUMO plans to extend its operational footprint into Nigeria and Cameroon. The company also plans to increase and improve its product offerings; one of such improvements being the provision of longer-term lending options for merchants and bigger businesses.