South Africa’s Qwili raises $1.2M SEED
South Africa-based Qwili, a hybrid hardware-software startup, has raised $1.2M in a SEED round led by E4E Africa, an entrepreneur-centric VC firm, with participation from Strat-Tech, Next Chymia, and Untapped Global alongside other funds and angel investors. The Qwili product consists of an NFC-enabled smartphone and digital sales ecosystem. Its software turns users’ phones into point-of-sale devices, enabling them to sell value-added services such as data, electricity, pay-TV subscriptions, groceries, clothing and much more to their friends and communities.
The African ecosystem crossed the $2Bn mark in H1 being the only EVM to cross the 50% mark of last year’s total transactions, as recorded in our State of Startup Funding - H1 2022 Emerging Venture Markets Report. The African VC space is gaining more and more traction as a result, sizable investments have been deployed in FinTech, Retail, and Agriculture solutions including the likes of Wasoko, Interswitch, and Thrive Agric. The space has also observed healthy funding dynamic in the Early-Stage (Pre-SEED to Pre-Series A) with rounds as high as $32.8M recorded by Kenya-based FinTech Dash, and Mara ($23M) with global and regional investors coming together to back innovative tech solutions for the African region.
Qwili says its target audience are digitally excluded and unbanked customers. Its mobile app serves as a “digital sales portal” through which micro and small merchants (agents) can facilitate the sale of goods and value-added services, the company said in a statement. “We are passionate about expanding access to digital goods and services. Achieving this does not only lie in new innovations and technologies, but also applying existing tech in appropriate ways, that reach and benefit more people,” said Luyolo Sijake, Qwili co-founder and CEO. “This understanding, coupled with rapid iteration and a market insights-led approach to product development, allowed us to find an offering that the market is embracing and we believe can hasten the speed of digital inclusion across the continent.
In addition to supporting Qwili’s existing impact, the raise has allowed for a critical expansion of the Qwili team and its development capabilities, the introduction of new product offerings, and a greater focus on research and development in the hardware component of the business. “We believe that Qwili is both highly scalable and high impact. Qwili agents love the entrepreneurial opportunity that Qwili provides them, while giving their community access to e-commerce and to fairly priced goods and services,” said Bastiaan Hochstenbach, co-founder and managing partner at E4E Africa.