SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Unicorn Growth Capital, an Africa-focused venture capital fund that invests at the intersection of traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi), and EchoVC, a technology-focused startup for underrepresented founders and underserved markets, join the Celo Foundation to support the growth of Web3 projects across Africa with new investment funds dedicated to the Celo ecosystem.
The Celo Foundation, a US-based nonprofit that supports the growth and development of Celo’s carbon-negative, mobile-first, and Layer 1 platform, continues to build its presence in Africa, by fueling a robust ecosystem of advanced technologies. founders and builders delivering increased access to financial tools and expanding Web3 adoption through real-world use cases in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and beyond.
“More than 50 companies in Africa have raised funding rounds in the Celo ecosystem in the past year alone,” said Aliu Musa, Head of Africa Ecosystem at Celo Foundation. “Africa is one of the fastest growing crypto markets in the world, with a total value of over $100 billion, with communities in Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere starting to use the tools Web3 Our ecosystem of founders and builders transforms people’s relationship to financial products, helping them achieve meaningful wealth to improve their lives.”
“As we transform the future of finance, Unicorn Growth Capital is thrilled to have Celo as an important partner for our portfolio companies to leverage their growing mobile platform and DeFi ecosystem,” said said Barbara Iyayi, founding partner and CEO of Unicorn Growth Capital.
Flori Ventures, a Web3 impact fund and partner of the Celo Foundation, has also contributed to investments in Celo’s African ecosystem, including Nigerian blockchain payments startup Bitmama, led by founder and CEO Ruth Iselema, which has recently closed a $2 million pre-seed round. Ryan Nesbitt, co-founder and general partner of Flori, shares: “We have made over a dozen investments in African companies building on Celo. We see a huge opportunity for this transformative technology to deliver lasting prosperity to real people.
More engagement and recognition across the continent
The Celo Africa Web3 Fund, which launched in early August, aims to help scale projects by African startups leveraging Celo to support blockchain technology and Web3 adoption. The Fund provides shortlisted applicants with equity, mentorship, resources and marketing support through workshops in the region. The next workshops are scheduled for Accra (September 26), Kampala (October 25) and Johannesburg (November 8).
Additionally, Canza Finance, a member of the Nigeria-based Alliance for Prosperity, which aims to give underserved SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa access to financial services, received the Most Innovative Product Award at the Celo x Huobi Hackathon, following a $3.27 million seed fundraising round by Canza founders Pascal Ntsama and Oyedeji Oluwole.
Provide financial access to unbanked and underbanked communities
The Celo Foundation has completed a three-month employer loan program for rural farmers in Nanyuki, Kenya, in collaboration with Kotani Pay, a Nairobi-based blockchain exit service and tech stack that connects protocols, dapps and fintech services to local payment channels in Africa; Mercy Corps Ventures, the impact investing arm of global development agency Mercy Corps; and Cinch, an agricultural company that leases farmland from smallholders and hires farmers to grow high-value crops on a large scale.
Loans were rolled out to Cinch-employed farmers using DeFi and cellphone messaging. This use case represents a microcosm of the broader integrated lending market, which is expected to grow 49.5% annually through 2029. Over 91% of loans have been repaid, with the highest repayments coming from landowners and full-time employees; 100% of female borrowers repaid their loan, despite being cautious during the loan withdrawal period.
Kotani Pay has also been recognized as a digital public good following a standards review by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), a global, multi-stakeholder initiative to accelerate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in countries. low- and middle-income people to facilitate the discovery, development, use and investment in digital public goods to create a more equitable world.
Participation in programming and educational events
Led by Umar Sebyala, Ugandan Ecosystem Manager for the Celo Foundation, a community of founders and crypto enthusiasts meet monthly at the Kampala Blockchain Happy Hour in conjunction with tech launch platform and coworking space Innovation Town. The Foundation supports outreach to universities across Uganda, reflected in educational initiatives in Nigeria and Code for Impact jams in Kenya led by Daniel Kimotho, Ecosystem Manager for Celo Foundation in Kenya.
The Celo Foundation is also partnering with Dacade, a peer-to-peer education platform, to create a series of courses that introduce users to blockchain development on Celo. The Foundation is working closely with the Dacade team to organize online and in-person workshops, targeting developers at upcoming events in Kenya, such as EthSafari.
Alliance member Ejara, a mobile investment and savings platform focused on the Francophone Africa region and founded by Cameroonian Nelly Chatue-Diop, launched her Ejara School on YouTube to broaden understanding of blockchain technology and showcased its Ejara Lionesses initiative, which provides seamless financial services. training, mentoring and skills to women entrepreneurs.
The Celo Foundation and Celo’s ecosystem of founders and builders in Africa will continue to raise awareness of the transformative impact of Web3 at upcoming industry-wide events including EthSafari (September 18-24) and Africa Tech Summit (September 27 and 28).
About the Celo Foundation
The Celo Foundation was founded in 2017 to support the growth and development of the decentralized, open-source, and mobile-first Celo platform to help build a carbon-negative financial system that creates the conditions for prosperity for all. The Foundation is guided by the Celo Community Principles and contributes to education, technical research, environmental health, community engagement and ecosystem awareness, activities that support and encourage a system inclusive finance.
To learn more about Celo, visit https://celo.org/.