Bloom, a Sudan-based fintech startup that offers a high-yield savings account and adjacent digital banking services, has secured another $6.5 million seed round, following the startup’s undisclosed pre-seed round last year.
The latest funding round was led by fintech giant Visa, Y Combinator, U.S.-based VCs Global Founders Capital (GFC) and Goodwater Capital and UAE-based early-stage firm VentureSouq. Other investors include angels Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox co-founder; Nicolas Kopp, former U.S. CEO of N26; footballers Blaise Matuidi and Kieran Gibbs; and early employees at Revolut and Tide.
“The Visa investment is critical for companies like us for a couple of reasons. One, aligning with Visa as a partner gives you a bunch of benefits, launching products faster, marketing support and product support; and two, in addition to the investment, Visa Fintech Fast Track enables you to access these incentives in a streamlined way,” CEO Ahmed Ismail told TechCrunch in an interview.
Earlier this year, Bloom announced that it was a part of Y Combinator’s winter batch this year after launching from stealth that same month. Also, the company’s waitlist was made public in March, and at the time, the company had more than 15,000 people signed up; that number has topped 100,000, the founders said in the interview. They say the platform has been launched in Sudan did not disclose specific numbers of customers actively using the product.
According to Bloom’s founders the latest seed round will help the Sudanese- and Dubai-based startup – execute its expansion plan across the Anglo-East African region such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. A few competitors in the region include YC-backed Fingo, Koa and Finclusion.
“Our product is live in Sudan. The plan is to scale in the country and then expand to other markets,” Ismail stated. “We anticipate being in at least one market before the end of the year and a couple more early next year.”
Bloom’s seed round is the largest in Sudan. Executives at Bloom and Visa say this investment and partnership can exponentially drive the adoption of Visa cards in Sudan and East Africa. In addition, Visa’s suite of products and services will provide customers with a secure and fast way to make online payments, according to Ahmed Mohey, Visa country general manager for Sudan and Libya.
“Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants,” Mohey added.
Founded in 2021 by Ahmed Ismail, Youcef Oudjidane, Khalid Keenan and Abdigani Diriye, Bloom offers fee-free accounts for users to save in dollars and buy and spend in Sudanese pounds. It also provides local and dollar cards and a feature where they can receive remittance free of charge from several countries globally, mainly where most of the Sudanese diaspora reside. The fintech works with the Export Development Bank, a partner bank that handles deposits. Bloom makes revenue from interest on these deposits, the interchange and other ancillary streams.
Roel Janssen, a partner at Global Founders Capital, shares similar sentiment about the team: “We are very excited by our investment in Bloom. Its experienced and talented founding team has the drive and expertise to build a product that is universally valued by consumers, partners and regulators in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.”