Sudanese fintech Bloom raises US$6.5m seed round for its expansion plans

SUDAN – Bloom, a Sudanese fintech that provides a high-yield savings account and related digital banking services, has raised US$6.5 million in a seed round.

Bloom’s founders say this 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.

This round of funding, which follows, the startup’s unannounced pre-seed round last year, included participation from Visa, Y Combinator, US-based VCs Global Founders Capital (GFC) and Goodwater Capital, as well as UAE-based early-stage business VentureSouq.

Other investors include Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi, former N26 US CEO Nicolas Kopp, footballers Blaise Matuidi and Kieran Gibbs, and early employees at Revolut and Tide.

Bloom, which was founded in 2022 by Ahmed Ismail, Youcef Oudjidane, Khalid Keenan and Abdigani Diriye, provides fee-free accounts for consumers to save in dollars and buy and spend in Sudanese pounds.

It also provides local and dollar cards, as well as a function that allows them to receive free remittances from numerous countries across the world, namely those where the majority of the Sudanese diaspora resides.

The fintech collaborates with the Export Development Bank, a deposit-taking partner bank. Bloom earns money from the interest on these deposits, as well as the interchange and other auxiliary streams.

The Visa investment was one of the perks for Bloom’s participation in the worldwide card scheme’s Fintech Fast Track Program. As a result of the collaboration, Bloom, the first Sudanese business allowed to the programme, switched its cards from Mastercard to Visa.

“The Visa investment is critical for companies like us for a couple of reasons,” CEO Ahmed Ismail said.

“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.”

The startup has acquired considerable traction since it was founded. In March of this year, the company announced that it was a part of Y Combinator’s winter batch, having emerged from stealth mode the previous month.

In addition, Bloom’s waitlist was made public in March, and at the time, the company had more than 15,000 customers signed up.

This number has already surpassed 100,000, Bloom founders claimed. They claim that the platform has been launched in Sudan, but they failed to disclose the number of active customers.

This investment and relationship, according to Bloom and Visa executives, will massively increase the use of Visa cards in Sudan and East Africa. In addition, Visa’s array of goods and services will enable users to make online payments in a secure and expedient manner.

In April last year, Visa partnered with the United Capital Bank (UCB) to issue Sudan’s first local Visa card.

Bloom’s seed round is the largest in Sudan, a country with a passive digital ecosystem that just recently allowed foreign investment when Fawry backed fintech and e-commerce firm Alsoug following 30 years of international sanctions.

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