Fintech Nomanini raises US$4mn in funding round led by Standard Bank

retail tradeNomanini, the fintech platform for the informal retail ecosystem, has announced a US$4mn funding round led by Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank, and completed by Goodwell Investments, an Amsterdam-based investment firm focused on fintech and financial inclusion

Through the terms of the strategic investment, Standard Bank gains a stake in the company and the ability to use Nomanini’s platform to unearth previously ‘invisible’ data on the informal retail economy.

With the benefit of these business analytics, the bank can offer a mobile application which provides access to new lines of business, credit and savings services for millions of informal merchants across 14 African countries. The service will be available in South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania eSwatini, Lesotho and Botswana.

In line with Standard Bank and Nomanini’s shared mission, the partnership aims to help the informal retail trade grow and of Standard Bank’s commitment to branchless banking, helping its customers “bank at any time, from anywhere.” The launch of the new app will enable Standard Bank to boost access to financial products and services, and, at the same time, expand its customer base while addressing the business needs of Africa’s informal retail merchants.

“The reality is, around 86 per cent of all employment in Sub-Saharan Africa is informal. Going to the bank and filling out forms for a loan is simply not viable – and can take days. In Nomanini, we’ve found a partner uniquely placed to help micro-merchants in Africa thrive, not just survive,” said Adrian Vermooten, head of digital in Africa Regions, Standard Bank.

“Previously, this type of information was unavailable to us but now our merchant customers can access banking services wherever they are and whenever it suits them.”

“This partnership with Standard Bank will be instrumental for Nomanini’s next wave of growth while ensuring that millions of Africa’s underserved micro-entrepreneurs receive access to digital financial services for the first time. And this is just the beginning,” commented Vahid Monadjem, founder and CEO of Nomanini.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the world's largest untapped economic opportunities, with consumer spending expected to reach US$2.1trn by 2025 (McKinsey, 2017). But despite the progress of mobile money schemes, almost nine in ten retail transactions still happen in cash, via informal channels like kiosks and open-air markets and independent shops (Deloitte, 2017).

These merchants trade-in cash and, as a result, they have very little data available from which to draw insights, drive sales and improve trade. For distributors and multinationals, this means that achieving the data and insights required for success is almost impossible. The supply chains that serve these markets are archaic, relying on analogue infrastructure and tools that increase friction and reduce trade. With a fragmented supply chain that is unable to share information quickly and accurately, each stakeholder doesn’t have the right data to make better decisions regarding how goods and services can be better distributed and financed to improve profits.

The data available comes from the sale of airtime, prepaid services or bill payments such as for TV, broadband data and utilities. Nomanini’s platform analyses those transactions, creating more fluidity and trust between both merchants and distributors but also unlocking credit flows from financial institutions, such as Standard Bank, as reduced risk assessments and steady, predictable returns are factored in.

Distributors can ensure merchants have the goods and services they need to deliver strong returns. All this increases transparency and lubricates the channel with capital, driving scale in a low margin economy and unlocking the latent potential of informal retail trade in Africa.

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