Cairo-based fintech firm MoneyFellows has raised USD 4 million in a Series A round from Paris-headquartered global VC Partech and Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, it said today in a statement sent to MENAbytes. The investment comes less than a year after MoneyFellows raised over USD 1 million in a pre-Series A round from 500 Startups, Dubai Angel Investors, and Phoenician Fund.
Founded in late 2016 by Ahmed Wadi, MoneyFellows has digitized the concept of money circles (ROSCAs), which are commonly known as gam’eya in Egypt and other Arab countries.
The practice, which is very popular for saving money in different parts of the world, allows a group of people (who are normally friends or colleagues) to contribute a fixed installment every month to a pool, with one of the members taking the whole pool as payout every month. The circle ends when everyone receives their payout and is usually repeated if the participants are interested.
With its mobile-based platform, MoneyFellows has digitized this entire process with a scoring model that complements the offline model, making it more scalable, safe, and efficient. In a statement, the Egyptian fintech company said that it currently has over 150,000 active users that are verified by an assessment algorithm. It also works with corporates in Egypt, enabling their employees to participate in money circles.
Ahmed Wadi, founder and CEO of MoneyFellows, said in a statement, “Being backed by Partech and Sawari Ventures—two top investment firms—helps us reap global as well as local know-how, best practices, and support. Partech’s support from their African fund will help us expand into other countries in the continent with hands-on global expertise.”
“While Sawari Ventures have been a cornerstone of MoneyFellows’ journey for the past three years; from day one they have been with us, and bring to the table a cachet of knowledge, alongside a vast network of relationships with key corporates and financial institutions, making them our optimal local partner,” he added.
MoneyFellows is a Flat6Labs Cairo graduate. It was part of their 2016 cohort.
The startup plans to use the latest investment to expand into Africa, it said in the statement, without sharing further details about the expansion. The investment will also be used to expand MoneyFellows’ operations across Egypt and launch some new products in the next few months.
Cyril Collon, a general partner at Partech, said, “We are proud to have MoneyFellows join Partech’s investment portfolio to support the company to scale and expand. The team is fantastic and the product sophistication is unique, making money circles attractive for millennials and their grandparents. The impact of MoneyFellows on financial inclusion is already massive in Egypt, as the solution offers convenient secured lending and saving schemes to consumers by digitizing a traditional savings model.”
Hany Al Sonbaty, a managing partner at Sawari Ventures, said, “MoneyFellows is one of the most promising fintech companies to come out of the region; their fusion of technology and existing ROSCA culture solves both the problem of financial inclusion and helps people to better plan their personal finances.”
“In enabling people to save beyond their immediate circles, they are not only promoting a culture of saving, but also facilitating a gateway for the further introduction of financial services to larger numbers of people as they become more financially aware. We are thrilled to be investing in the company and joining them on this exciting journey,” he added.
This article first appeared on MENAbytes.