Kenya’s BitPesa secures US$15m debt funding as it rebrands

KENYA – Kenyan fintech startup BitPesa announced that it had rebranded to become AZA Group and had secured $15 million in debt financing from South Africa’s the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

BitPesa, which raised two funding rounds in 2017 and another last year to take its total secured investment to around the US$15 million mark, launched in Kenya in 2013, and has since expanded into a host of other African countries, including Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, and Uganda.

The new funding will see AZA continue its growth further across the region, into new markets in Northern and Southern Africa as well as the Middle East, increasing its liquidity and servicing larger clients.

So far, AZA Group has seen US$1 billion in transaction volumes, growing by 300 per cent with the acquisition of TransferZero and launch of B2B product BFX.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve worked so hard to build,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of AZA Group.

 “We’re here to be an integral part of how Africa is accelerating its growth. The potential for frontier markets continues to increase and becomes more globally relevant.

“We’re solving a continent-wide challenge of a lack of financial infrastructure available for growing businesses – and we are doing it using a unique combination of financial and technological tools with a modern operational approach.”

Rossiello said the “dollarisation of Africa” put a major strain on growing mid-sized businesses across the continent.

“Our team is quite proud to have reduced the demand for USD in Africa by over US$100 million each year, promoting local currencies and creating savings of millions in fees each year through cost-effective transfers and efficient treasury solutions,” she said.

According to Disrupt Africa, BitPesa is now just one of three brands owned by the newly incorporated AZA Group, alongside TransferZero and BFX. AZA Group describes itself as a leading provider of currency trading solutions focused on accelerating global access to frontier markets.

Spanish international money transfer service TransferZero — which AZA Group acquired in February last year for undisclosed amount provides both wholesale currency purchase and retail settlement.

This, while BFX is an over-the-counter platform developed by the group for businesses with wholesale currency needs, especially those paying partners and suppliers.

BitPesa, which was founded in 2013 by American Elizabeth Rossiello and later joined by co-founder and fellow American Charlene Chen, offers businesses wholesale access to digital currencies, mainly bitcoin.

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