It’s been over seven years since Zoona was launched in 2009. It was born from an idea in a text message exchanged between our two founders, brothers Brad and Brett Magrath – and it’s humbling to see how far we’ve come.
We have enabled over 1,000 emerging entrepreneurs in Zambia and Malawi to start their own businesses as Zoona Agents, earning income, creating employment, and providing key financial services to their communities.
We’ve done this by focusing on the Girl Effect . We have specifically sought to empower young African women, such as Misozi Mkandiwire (WATCH: Video of Misozi’s Story) and Sandra Jere. Misozi and Sandra started as 19-year-old Zoona Agents in Zambia more than 5 years ago with no formal business experience and only high school diplomas. Today, they each employ dozens of young women and men and run businesses that transact more than a million dollars per month.
We have earned the trust of over 1 and a half million active consumers, who have transacted over $1 billion dollars at our agents since we launched.
We have grown from a team of 2 to over 150 people with 25 nationalities across four countries. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths and the key to building a customer-centric pan-African business that remains true to our mission of helping communities thrive.
And we are just getting started.
Today, I am pleased to announce that Zoona has raised $15 million (R200 million rand) in its Series B investment round from world-class venture capital investors.
These funds will give us the fuel we need to scale our operations into new markets and develop new innovative products.
Our investment round is led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group and a global fintech investor.
Our Series A investors Accion – whose investment is managed by Quona Capital – and Omidyar Network – an impact investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar – reaffirmed their commitment to Zoona by more than doubling their respective investments.
The Lundin Foundation, which provides capital to high potential businesses to create wealth and alleviate poverty, also increased its investment in Zoona during this round.
We’re also proud to have taken on South African investment for the first time. 4Di Capital, a venture capital firm based in right here in the “Silicon Cape” is investing in Zoona. 4Di is led by entrepreneur and investor Justin Stanford who has been a member of Zoona’s board of directors for the past 4 years.
Finally, Patrick Pichette, the visionary former Chief Financial Officer at Google and the 2015 Silicon Valley CFO of the Year, also invested in Zoona as part of this Series B. Patrick will continue in his role as an advisor to the company and my closest mentor.
We’re very proud of what we have achieved, but we know it is only a new beginning. The great Nelson Mandela once said, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
More than 80% of adults in Africa lack access to formal financial services, while poverty and unemployement remain among the most pressing problems of our time. At Zoona, we believe that combining entrepreneruship and technology can make an enormous difference in the lives of millions of Africans and their communities, and we are excited to help make this real.