Securing funds to sustain a business is one of the most challenging things for most African startups. This has resulted in many startups folding up or needing help to scale up their operations. Kiiru Muhoya and his co-founders are very familiar with this challenge.
Muhoya co-founded Fingo Africa, a YC-backed Kenyan fintech with James da Costa, Ian Njuguna, and Gitari Tirima to provide financial services to Africa’s marginalized youth. However, devising ways to get funding was not easy.
The decision to start Fingo Africa was influenced by the several hours to days it takes for African youth to open an account. Often, the process requires multiple in-person interactions and requirements to bring physical paper documents – in addition to dealing with expensive fees to send money and maintain their accounts.
Fingo is designed to provide an alternative brand of banking to African millennials, starting from Kenya. It secured a $200,000 pre-seed round before being accepted into Y Combinator (YC 21) in 2021, and raised $4 million in seed funding toward the end of that year.
According to Tech Crunch, the funding round was led by Multistage venture capital firm, HOF Capital with participation from Hustle Fund, Verdant Frontiers Fintech Fund, Goodwater Capital, Launch Africa, Chandaria Capital, Naiban (Nairobi Angel Network), Discovery Ventures, Chui Ventures, as well as from the co-founders of Monzo and Twitch, and executives from Google, Facebook, and Paytm.
Today, Fingo Africa has launched its neobank, which it developed in collaboration with Pan-African financial institution, Ecobank Kenya. According to Tech Crunch, the neobank is the first of its kind in East Africa. As part of the partnership, Fingo Africa is integrating its software with Ecobank.
Prior to starting the company, Muhoya was part of a team at Acorn Holdings, the largest private developer of real estate in East Africa. It is the first Kenyan company to successfully list a bond on the London Stock Exchange.
Njugun, on the other hand, is a technology founder. He built outdoor advertising automation, allowing advertisers to upload their ads to digital billboards and pay digitally from their devices, and other multiple systems.
Tirima prides herself as an African kid who loves interesting problems and creating viable solutions that will outlast her. Da Costa was previously recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30 and Alibaba eFounder.