Nigerian Fintech Innovator, Cleva, Raises $1.5 Million in Pre-Seed Funding to Revolutionize Cross-Border Payments in Africa


Cleva, a Nigerian fintech startup, recently secured $1.5 million in a pre-seed investment round to enhance international payment solutions throughout Africa. The funding round was spearheaded by 1984 Venture, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco that specializes in supporting early-stage startups. This round also saw contributions from various investors, including FirstCheck Africa, Y Combinator, The Raba Partnership, and Byld Ventures. Cleva is developing several new products, such as USD cards and opportunities for savings in U.S. assets, to broaden its revenue sources. Additionally, the company is preparing to initiate a marketing campaign targeting African diasporans.

Launched in 2023 by CEO Tolu Alabi and CTO Philip Abel, the fintech company Cleva has been established to provide US-based accounts to individuals and businesses in Africa, enabling them to receive funds in U.S. dollars. To open a USD account with Cleva, users must provide their Bank Verification Number (BVN) and a government-issued I.D.

Currently, Cleva focuses exclusively on USD accounts, distinguishing it from other fintech firms like Geegpay, which also offer GBP and EUR accounts. The company is expanding its digital product portfolio, including developing USD cards and savings options in U.S. assets. Additionally, Cleva is exploring opportunities in API issuance.

Cleva is entering a competitive remittance market, where it will stand alongside platforms such as Flutterwave’s Send, Chipper Cash, Lemfi, and Afriex. The company’s upcoming products are designed to facilitate international USD transfers and enable the creation of professional invoices.

Alabi highlighted African businesses and individuals’ relentless struggle to secure international payments for their goods and services, underscoring this as a critical reason for launching despite the intensely competitive market.

Fintech company Cleva differentiates itself in the competitive market through its unique customer experience and business model. Since launching in Nigeria four months ago, it has achieved a significant milestone, processing over $1 million in monthly payments for many users.

Cleva has identified the payment processing market for freelancers and remote workers in Africa as valued at around $18 billion. According to Alabi, the company’s aspirations extend beyond Africa, aiming to resolve international payment challenges in Latin America, Asia, and Canada. Despite these global ambitions, their initial focus on the African market stems from their familiarity. Alabi expresses confidence in its capability to address these global payment issues, drawing on its African market experience.




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