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August 18th, 2016 by


Zoona is a South African-born Fin-Tech start up. Now it is poised to become one of the go-to methods for money transfers for the unbanked in the rest of Africa.

This excludes Kenya where M-PESA already dominates. It also excludes South Africa which already has a high ratio of banked consumers.

Now Zoona has raised an additional two hundred million rand in funding to grow business in the rest of Africa. New markets will likely extend to the DRC and West Africa.

south african start up

The business has a strong entrepreneurial focus where it offers girls fresh out of high school the opportunity to easily start a cash-transfer business within the communities they were born and raised. This has a strong element of trust that translates directly to greater business success.

The newly raised capital includes an investment by Patrick Pichette, Former Chief Financial Officer at Google and long-time Zoona advisor. 

The Series B investment round was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Furthermore, the IFC is part of the World Bank Group.

south african start up

10 Markets by 2020

Zoona is aiming to reach 10 African markets by 2020. Essentially, they hope to reach 30 million active consumers by then.

To learn more, watch the below videos about Zoona’s success story in Zambia, which also inspired its name.

Chief Executive Officer of Zoona, Mike Quinn explains “The Girl Effect”

“As the world economies transit from cash-based to cashless, an entire infrastructure is needed to make that transition possible and ensure equal availability of both currencies,” says Andi Dervishi. He is the Head of IFC’s FinTech Investments.

Zoona has made this possible in Zambia and Malawi and is planning to do the same in many other African markets.

He explains that these type of cash transfer and collection networks ensure a retail footprint. This is important in the adoption of a new form of mobile money across Africa.

Tailoring products to market demand

The executive team announced the funding at a media briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday. They also said that they plan to extend to other financial products such as savings and insurance.

However, “they will not be prescriptive but rather led by the demand and needs of the African consumers,” says Lelemba Phiri chief marketing officer. 

Therefore, Zoona are likely to look at bundled-type products that best meet their unique needs. (e.g funeral, car and home insurance in one product or once-off fee savings products).

chief marketing officer of zoona

This may, indeed, ensure their success in African markets. The reason for this is that South African businesses who bring a ‘one-size-fits-all-model’ are often doomed to fail.

Zoona, which has an office in ‘Silicon Cape’ prides itself on being a great place to work. They also pride themselves on making a difference in the communities they serve.

For the venture capitalists and social warriors among us, Zoona is a South African start-up to watch.

Read more about Fintech in our article questioning whether it is time for a new kind of bank in South Africa too.

Or Compare South African Banking Products Easily Here.