Ejara, Cameroon’s woman-led DeFi Platform Gets Backing From Adaverse to Democratise Finance in Francophone Africa.
PRESS RELEASE — March 20, 2023
Adaverse, a Cardano ecosystem accelerator established as a joint venture between EMURGO Africa and Everest Ventures Group to accelerate Web3 startups in Africa, has concluded a strategic investment in Ejara, an investment platform that improves access to financial solutions through blockchain. Adaverse joins other prominent investors in a Series A funding round to support Ejara’s empowerment drive and expansion into new markets.
Ejara wants to improve the economic opportunities for over 400 million people, especially the unbanked, unemployed youths and women in Sub-Saharan Africa. To achieve this, Ejara integrates traditional finance and cryptocurrency to help Africans take charge of their wealth.
Vincent Li, founding partner at Adaverse, commented that “Ejara meets a pressing need across the Francophone region, and we are excited about the business model, which we believe can be replicated across the African continent. They have shown that they understand the people and have built a bridge between crypto and traditional finance, leveraging continuity rather than disruption. When products use innovation to improve existing models, the market is ready for it, and we believe that Ejara can sustain this momentum to improve lives through its socially impactful platform.”
Q&A with Ejara’s CEO Nelly Chatue-Diop.
Q: Tell us about Ejara and how it all began.
Nelly: Ejara is a cutting-edge financial institution in the crypto space, serving the Francophone African community and diaspora. Our aim is to provide financial solutions that allow unrestricted access to a range of investment opportunities, including fractional shares, commodities, and cryptocurrency, while enabling secure and fast payment remittance across borders.
When France devalued the CFA Franc in 1994, I was growing up in Douala, Cameroon, and I saw firsthand how bad economic instability could be. This experience left a lasting impression on me and motivated me to find a solution for the financial challenges faced by many African families. In 2015, after becoming familiar with blockchain technology, I partnered with my long-time friend and successful entrepreneur, Baptiste Andrieux, to establish Ejara with the goal of empowering Francophone Africans to grow and secure their finances.
Q: That’s a strong reason for building, is it the same reason you are targeting Francophone countries?
Nelly: Cameroon holds a significant place in our company’s history, and as such, we have decided to establish our headquarters in Douala. Additionally, we are targeting Francophone countries due to the relatively low adoption of cryptocurrency in the region. Francophone Africa, with its over 200 million people using the CFA franc, presents a vast, untapped crypto-friendly market, currently dominated by only a few elite investors. Our goal at Ejara is to democratise access to cryptocurrency investments by offering the average French-speaking African the opportunity to invest as little as 1,000 CFA (~$2) and earn daily through the widely-used mobile money channels.
Q: We’ve looked at the whys; now let’s look at the how. What are the key offerings of Ejara?
Nelly: We have built the Ejara payment app with the end-user in mind, and our multi-asset platform offers safe investment, asset ownership, and swift payment without borders. The Ejara payment solution provides swift and secure user-to-user transfers powered by Lightning Network to improve transactional services for SMEs and cross-border remittances.
Ejara doubles as a crypto wallet and savings app, where users can securely store and own digital assets by connecting to the widely-used mobile money transfer platform (MoMo). This provides on/off-ramp transaction gateways for users with low fees. Our investment portfolio covers a variety of crypto assets and trading pairs, and we are also building our next phase of app development with a goal to tokenise real-life commodities, government bonds, and equity. Users can choose to buy shares in both local and international companies and earn up to 5% interest on their savings.
Q: What sets Ejara apart from other crypto wallet apps, and what has been the progress so far?
Nelly: We are the first to create crypto investment access in CFA through on/off-ramp transactions in local currency with a non-custodial crypto wallet, thereby lowering the barrier for the unlearned and the unbanked without sacrificing the security of assets. With mobile money integration, everyone, including retailers, farmers, petty traders, SMEs, and students, can easily save, invest, buy shares, and make instant payments without the hassle of P2P functionality associated with most crypto apps. Our focus is not only to bring cryptocurrency closer to the people, we want Africans to access diverse investment portfolios at their fingertips.
Since our launch in 2020, Ejara has served over 33,000 people from Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and French-speaking Africans in Europe, Asia, and the US. Our savings and investment portfolio is growing as we expand into new markets. Ejara is also popular for powering swift cross-border remittance and user-to-user payments for diasporan Africans.
Q: As a woman in a male-dominated industry, what initially drew you to the Web3 space, and how has that impacted your product focus to empower women and girls?
Nelly: With a Finance and Computer Engineering background coupled with almost two decades of career in management roles in elite companies across Europe and the USA, I always had a keen eye on technological evolution. When I learned about blockchain technology after reading the Bitcoin Whitepaper, I understood that for the first time, we as Africans using blockchain technology had a shot at onboarding the next technological revolution train at the same time as the rest of the world. I started reflecting on how this could be done. I thought of a platform that would enable Africans, especially women and young girls, to have access to and be able to afford financial products that traditional financial systems have excluded them from. Ejara was born.
Furthermore, at the core of our mission is to drive financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa and improve the economy. We have a number of social impact projects that help people learn more about money and include underserved communities. This birthed Ejara Cares and Ejara School for community-led educational and empowerment programs. We also want to address the economic challenges that are limiting women’s financial empowerment through our Ejara Lionesses program, where we have created educational and resourceful projects for women and young girls across all sectors.
Q: What is the next step for Ejara, and will there be an integration with the Cardano blockchain?
Nelly: We want to become the go-to fintech app for Africans and give our rapidly growing user base more ways to invest. We are laser-focused on the security of assets, the privacy of users, DeFi education for empowerment, and pushing our dreams into new markets to reach more Francophone Africans and beyond. Our next phase of product development will accommodate the tokenisation of real-life commodities and shares, and we look forward to gaining advisory and technical support from the Cardano Accelerator Adaverse.
Adaverse is a Cardano-focused accelerator set up as a joint venture by EMURGO Africa, a subsidiary of EMURGO, the official commercial arm of the Cardano protocol, and Everest Ventures Group, a leading blockchain industry accelerator — committed to scale promising Web3 projects in Africa. Since its inception in 2021, Adaverse has backed 30 startups building across 10 Web3 sectors, including DeFi, Exchanges, NFT, PropTech, GameFi, Payments, and SocialFi.
Adaverse is dedicated to helping young startups grow through a tailored approach that includes funding, a 1:1 mentorship program, and other founder-focused resources, including the Startup School recently launched. With a mission to assist founders in building sustainable and globally relevant businesses, Adaverse will continue to allocate more resources to support innovative solutions, particularly Cardano-based projects in Africa and the Middle East, as part of its efforts to usher in a digitally advanced global economy.