Sudan-based fintech startup, Bloom, has completed its seed funding round, raising $6.5 million. This comes after the startup raised an undisclosed amount in its pre-seed funding round.
Bloom, a startup which prides itself of providing its customers with high-yield savings accounts, and related digital banking services, said it would use the newly raised funds to scale its planned expansion out of Sudan and Dubai, and spread across English-speaking East African countries. Some of the countries listed on Bloom’s expansion list include Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, and Tanzania.
The startup also noted that it will use the funds to recruit world-class talent, push for an improvement in customer experience, and offer new and innovative financial services to its customers in Sudan, Dubai, and other East African locations.
“We sell live goods in Sudan. Scaling up within the nation is the goal, followed by market expansion. We want to enter at least one market before the year is out, and a few more early the next year,” CEO, Ahmed Ismail, said.
The seed round, which was recently concluded, had participations from Visa, Y Combinator, and the American investment firms: Global Founders Capital (GFC), and Goodwater Capital. The round also had participations from VentureSouq – which is a UAE-based early-stage investment company.
Angel investors like the footballers – Blaise Matuidi, and Kieran Gibbs, as well as the co-founder of Dropbox – Arash Ferdowsi, former US CEO of N26, Nicholas, and a number of early staff members of Revolut and Tide.
Bloom, which is the first Sudanese business to participate in Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program, winning it the sizable investment from Visa. Due to the investment, and partnership between Bloom and Visa, the startup had to move from using MasterCard card technology, to patronising Visa.
“The Visa investment is critical for companies like us for a couple of reasons. One, aligning with Visa as a partner gives you a bunch of benefits, launching products faster, marketing support and product support; and two, in addition to the investment, Visa Fintech Fast Track enables you to access these incentives in a streamlined way,” Ismail said in an interview with TechCrunch.
The company was founded by Ahmed Ismail, Youcef Oudjidane, Khalid Keenan, and Abdigani Diriye in late 2021. Bloom was founded to help Sudanese people hedge against this rising devaluation. One of the ways Bloom goes about its mission is by offering its users fee-free accounts, where they can save in dollars, and buy and spend in Sudanese pounds.
The startup also claims that it provides both local and dollar cards, and has a feature where customers can receive remittance free of charge from several countries globally, especially where most of the Sudanese diaspora reside.
“The problem that we think is most pervasive is consumers’ inability to protect the value of their wealth. So we decided to build a business that does exactly that, that helps people save money in the stable currency and spend as they go in local currencies,” Ismail said.
Speaking on the fundraise, Roel Janssen, a partner at Global Founders Capital, gave Global Founders Capital’s view:
“We are very excited by our investment in Bloom. Its experienced and talented founding team has the drive and expertise to build a product that is universally valued by consumers, partners and regulators in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.”
Also commenting on the fundraise, Ahmed Mohey, Visa country general manager for Sudan and Libya, said that:
“Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants.”
As at March, Bloom said it has about 15,000 users on its network, and now, it claims to have over 100,000 users.