A group of Nigerian investors have committed the sum of N1.3 billion ($3.1m) seed round into startup company, Sparkle, a mobile-first digital bank that provides inancial, lifestyle, and business support services. This came as the first all-Nigerian startup funding in the burgeoning industry that has become a toast for foreign investors. In the last nine months of this year, startups in the country have raised close to $1 billion, all from foreign investors. Over the last few years, the young innovative companies had attracted billions of dollars with no contribution from local investors. Findings revealed that the funding secured by Sparkle came from a group of investors including Leadway Assurance, Trium Networks, and a number of Nigerian high net worth 3individuals. According to the company, this follows a previous friends and family pre-Seed round totalling $2 million (N857m), bringing its total funding to $5.1m (N2.1bn).
Sparkle said the new investment would be used to scale the platform’s talent teams across engineering, financial risk, and marketing departments and investing in its automated backend processes and digital infrastructure. Speaking on the round, which is made up in its entirety by Nigerian investors, Uzoma Dozie, Sparkle Founder and CEO, said: “I’m delighted to be collaborating with a group of highly respected Nigerian businesses, investment firms, and captains of industry – all of whom understand the real need for a digital-first platform such as Sparkle, to bring better access to financial services and, importantly, financial inclusion, to millions of more people – for business, for personal means or both.
“Collectively, as a group of investors and business builders, we are Nigerians who are bullish about Nigeria and the opportunity the country presents in terms of building global networks and communities, all via one app. I am excited to welcome our new investors into the Sparkle tribe and will be leaning on their sector expertise and insight to build long-lasting partnerships as we scale.”
Sparkle users are able to open an account in less than five minutes via a Smartphone, without the need for documentation or in-person / banking hall verification. The platform also has a Visa card function for users to make in-person or digital payments. The platform has also secured partnerships with Visa, Network International, PriceWater- House Cooper Nigeria and secured a Microfinance Bank licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).