Kenya’s BitPesa secures $15m debt funding

AZA Group, parent of BitPesa, TransferZero and BFX, Announces Landmark $15M Financing from The Development Bank of Southern Africa

With new funding and blockchain origins, AZA will service frontier markets by focusing on efficiency, optimization, and cutting-edge technology that is both creative and customized for its 27,000 customers worldwide.

AZA Group, the new parent company of brands BitPesa, TransferZero and BFX, has announced a landmark $15 million in debt financing from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), one of the  development finance institutions in Africa. AZA Group is the leading provider of currency trading solutions focused on accelerating global access to frontier markets. AZA Group has built their own proprietary financial infrastructure through its brands BitPesa, TransferZero and BFX using an innovative approach and deep local roots across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. With the financing, AZA will continue its fervent growth deeper across the region into new markets in the Middle East, Northern, and Southern Africa, increasing its liquidity and servicing larger clients. AZA’s hybrid financial infrastructure has allowed the firm to reinvent the frontier currency industry, providing a customer-centric experience where ease and speed for businesses are prioritized.

Since inception of its first company BitPesa in 2013, AZA Group has seen $1 Billion volume transacted in, out, and across Africa. With the acquisition of TransferZero and launch of its B2B product BFX, transaction growth spurred 300%. AZA Group has grown so aggressively that the firm has expanded their host of products, customizing services for distinct customer segments. The firm is the only non-bank provider of both wholesale FX and distribution across the African Region, and has gained on geography through increased bank accounts, mobile money, and other payment options.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve worked so hard to build,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, founder and CEO of AZA . “We’re here to be an integral part of how Africa is accelerating its growth. The potential for frontier markets continues to increase and becomes more globally relevant. We’re solving a continent-wide challenge of a lack of financial infrastructure available for growing businesses - and we are doing it using a unique combination of financial and technological tools with a modern operational approach. The dollarization of Africa puts a major strain on growing mid-sized businesses across the continent. Our team is quite proud to have reduced the demand for USD in Africa by over $100 million each year, promoting local currencies and creating savings of millions in fees each year through cost-effective transfers and efficient treasury solutions.”

With a team of over 100 people, AZA’s team is led from regional HQ offices in Lagos, London, and Nairobi with growing satellite teams in Dakar, Madrid, Accra, Kampala and soon Johannesburg. The firm’s culture and fast-paced startup mentality has been praised for its execution ability, operational efficiency and ability to retain top talent. AZA’s independent Board Director, Linda Fayne Levinson, was the first female partner ever at McKinsey Group and currently is Chair of the Board of Hertz, Independent Lead Director of Jacobs Engineering Group and a Director of Ingram Micro, and NCR.

"For the past five years, AZA has been working to solve widespread challenges, penetrating the space. We're happy to support Elizabeth, one of the world's most influential tech pioneers, in the firm's mission to reinvent the FX and foreign currency industry and prioritize ease and speed for businesses,” said Edward Mathias, senior advisor at the Carlyle Group.

“After extensive due diligence, we have approved this investment in the BitPesa Product and are eager to partner with AZA. We are excited to see AZA’s expansion and increased impact, which will be fueled further by the approved $15 million. The DBSA has expressed an interest to potentially increase the investment in the future.

“The DBSA in its desire to support the development of African economies supports innovative concepts and technology to enhance Africa’s competitiveness and reduce the cost of trade to its people.” said Paul Currie, DBSA’s Chief Investment Officer