SA's Ukheshe secures funding, eyes international expansion
South African-founded fintech enabler Ukheshe has raised an undisclosed amount from Development Partners International (DPI) and Fireball Capital to fund its growth plans across Africa and beyond.
Developed in 2018 as a digital platform to improve financial inclusion within South Africa, with the focus on small, micro and medium enterprises, the company has grown its footprint to include Mauritius, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The digital-first, banking-as-a-service (BaaS) enabler said the funding means that it can accelerate its international expansion, serving customers across eight countries including the UK, UAE, India, Mauritius, South Africa and Kenya. These deals will support its long-term growth as it continues to accelerate its acquisitive expansion plans.
"Ukheshe is well positioned to expand its footprint, entering complementary markets which are facing the same complex challenges that exist in its core markets," the company said in a statement.
The recent investment is for Ukheshe International, the UK-headquartered division of the Ukheshe Group, but the investment deals are still subject to closing conditions, it said.Expansion plans
Ukheshe is developing new ways for businesses to deliver so-called "embedded finance" (the placing of a financial product in a non-financial customer experience) and aims to close the financial inclusion gap.
The company serves customers across different sectors, including banks, fintech, mobile network operators, and small and medium businesses. The company provides technologies that allow its clients to offer their own fintech services.
According to Ukheshe, the payments and fintech ecosystems in Africa are growing rapidly, though the sector remains underdeveloped, with many communities still lacking access to critical financial products and services.
"As innovation continues to disrupt established players and drive growth in emerging markets, there are opportunities for software innovators like Ukheshe to pioneer solutions to critical problems, provide value for customers and support communities in markets where technology has the power to make the biggest impact," the statement continued.
Through its proprietary BaaS Eclipse API platform and innovative embedded finance solutions, the company believes it is at the forefront of the fintech evolution.
"Ukheshe's mission is to transform the lives of individuals by facilitating access to critical financial products and services that support the growth and prosperity of communities globally. We have made great progress in recent years, growing our footprint, and expanding our reach across Africa," said CEO and founder Clayton Hayward.Exciting partnerships
Hayward added that Ukheshe is looking forward to partnering with DPI, an Africa-focused investor that brings international market experience in investing across the continent.
"Combined with the deep local market understanding of Fireball Capital, which has a track record of seizing opportunities in the fintech space, we are excited about Ukheshe's future. As we look for new ways to build on our success, we will work together to accelerate our international strategy and reach more customers across the region," he explained.
"Our planned investment in Ukheshe is in line with our investment mandate of giving South African institutional investors access to the best technology-enabled businesses that are solving real-world problems, particularly in the financial services, education, and healthcare sectors," added Fireball CEO Paula Mokwena.
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*Top image is of Ukheshe founders (from left) Jason Penton, Mike Smits, Clayton Hayward and Paul Carter-Brown. (Source: Ukheshe).
— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa