Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s youngest region, with over 60% of its population being below 25 years, and it comprises 13% of the world’s workforce, second only to Asia. The gig economy is experiencing rapid adoption on the continent but the working model still has major challenges.
A major challenge is the lack of access and although some gig platforms are trying to help the gig workers scale this fence, there are still major bottlenecks.
However, some fintech platforms on the continent are trying to provide a broad spectrum of financial services for the gig workers who are estimated to reach over 80 million by 2030.
One such platform is Imalipay, which was launched in 2020 and describes itself as the "financial sidekick" of freelancers and blue collar gig workers. The one-stop financial services platform closed a $3 million debt and equity seed round.
Imalipay was launched by Zimbabwean’s Tatenda Furusa and Nigeria’s Oluwasanmi Akinmusire after they noticed the challenges ride-hailing drivers had to deal with like running out of fuel and working financial services.
According to the startup CEO, Tatenda Furusa, “We researched the gig economy and found that they were neglected by some financial services. And we saw that we were perfectly placed on building fintech services that will solve the problems of Africa’s gig economy workers, freelancers and self-employed digital workers.
ImaliPay’s pilot a buy now, pay later (BNPL) fuel product, but for two-wheeler gig platforms as the company partnered with a few fuel stations in Ibadan, Nigeria to offer this service to SafeBoda riders.
The startup then proceeded to create a partner ecosystem structured so that some give it access to new users while others support its ecosystem and marketplace.
The new funds injection will go into expanding its 50-man team, boosting its technology and exploring new markets like Ghana and Egypt, the founders said.
The funding round received follow-on investors from VCs such as Ten 13, Uncovered Fund, MyAsia VC, Jedar Capital, Logos Ventures, Plug N Play Ventures, Untapped Global, Latam Ventures, Cliff Angels, Chandaria Capital and Changecom. Angel investors like Keisuke Honda of KSK Angels and others from Serbia, Kenya and Norway also participated.
In 15 months of operation, ImaliPay’s user base has grown by 60x. The gig workers, who the company commented are in the “tens of thousands,” access its services across 4,500 vendor points.
Over 200,000 transactions have been carried out on ImaliPay’s platform. The pan-African embedded finance provider’s revenues come from transaction and referral fees.