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Nomanini Raises $4m for Fintech Expansion

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African fintech platform Nomanini has raised $4 million through a funding round led by Standard Bank.

Nomanini, which means 'anytime' in SiSwati (one of the official languages of South Africa), is a platform which targets the informal retail ecosystem in Africa. It uses mobile technology to help informal retail merchants offer electronic products and banking services to their communities.

The strategic investment from the South African-headquartered bank sees it gain an unspecified stake in Nomanini and for the fintech player allows it to expand its offerings and scale into new markets. The partnership has also resulted in the launch of a mobile application, powered by Nomanini, which will offer under-served informal retailers the bank's financial services for the first time.

Standard Bank will now provide access to new lines of business, credit and savings services for millions of informal merchants across 14 African countries. It says the service will be available in South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania eSwatini, Lesotho and Botswana.

Headquartered in Cape Town and founded in 2011, Nomanini's merchant wallet now connects thousands of merchants across Africa to distributors and banks.

Cash remains king in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the informal sector, despite the rapid growth in mobile money and mobile payments during the past 10 years. The payments infrastructure supporting retail is still mostly analogue: Mastercard estimates that around 95% of transactions in Africa and the Middle East are still conducted using cash.

"The reality is, around 86% of all employment in Sub-Saharan Africa is informal. Going to the bank and filling out forms for a loan is simply not viable -- and can take days. In Nomanini, we've found a partner uniquely placed to help micro-merchants in Africa thrive, not just survive," says Adrian Vermooten, head of digital in Africa regions at Standard Bank.

Transaction data analysis via Nomanini's platform means that micro-merchants' creditworthiness can be more accurately assessed and, as a result, many will become eligible for working capital loans for the first time.

The partnership also falls in line with Standard Bank's recent commitment to branchless banking. Earlier this year the bank announced it would close over 100 branches and retrench hundreds of staff in an effort to become a more digitized bank.

For Nomanini, the partnership with Africa's largest bank adds merchant financing to its existing service offering and provides the opportunity to scale into new markets. With the investment, the company plans to expand its portfolio of financial services to offer remittances, insurance and other products in the future.

"This partnership with Standard Bank will be instrumental for Nomanini's next wave of growth, while ensuring that millions of Africa's under-served micro-entrepreneurs receive access to digital financial services for the first time," says Nomanini founder and CEO Vahid Monadjem.

"It's only by bridging the divide between the digital and the physical cash that rules in these markets that we'll be able to rewrite the rules of informal retail trade in Africa," added Monadjem.

The funding round was completed by Goodwell Investments, an Amsterdam-based investment firm focused on fintech and financial inclusion.

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