Nigerian fintech Cleva Banking receives Silicon Valley cash to fix global US dollar challenge

BY Preta Peace Namasaba January 18, 2024 8:03 AM EDT
Tolu Alabi. Photo credit: Tolu Alabi

Africa-focused fintech startup Cleva Banking led by Nigerian entrepreneur Tolu Alabi has successfully raised $1.5 million to help its work. The recent pre-seed funding round was led by San Francisco-headquartered 1984 Ventures, with the participation of The Raba Partnership, Byld Ventures, Firstcheck Africa, and several angel investors.

Cleva Banking was founded only in 2023. It assists African individuals and businesses in receiving international payments by facilitating the opening of USD accounts.

Alabi was influenced by her own experiences and extensive research to address the constant challenges numerous Africans face in receiving international funds. Cleva Banking differentiates itself from competitors in the $18 billion fintech market through its customer experience and business model.

But for Alabi, Cleva Banking is solving a global problem. She told TechCrunch:

The problem that we’re trying to solve, which is enabling people to receive international payments, is not a Nigerian problem nor an African one. It’s a global problem; people in Latin America, Asia and even Canada need to receive dollars for their work and service. We’re starting with Nigeria because we know the market and it’s also a big market. But we feel like because of our backgrounds, we’re very well positioned to solve this problem at a global scale.

The company plans to use the new funding to expand its operations beyond Nigeria. Alabi and her co-founder, Philip Abel decided to begin with the African market because they are familiar with it. Cleva Banking intends to address challenges facing international payments in Latin America, Asia, and Canada.

In addition, the funding will enable the rollout of upcoming products such as USD cards and savings in U.S. assets. Cleva Banking has successfully processed more than $1 million in monthly payments within four months of its launch in Nigeria. The company has also had a phenomenal month-on-month revenue growth of 100 percent which it plans to diversify to strengthen its position in the market.

Alabi is in prime position to leverage her extensive technical and product experience for the growth of the startup. She previously worked in product management at Stripe, Amazon, WhatsApp and Goldman Sachs. Born and raised in Nigeria, she moved to the United States to attend business school at Stanford on scholarship.