Leapfrog Ventures makes first investment in Africa, backs regional FinTech startup Exuus

A female using Save.
Image credit: Exuus

See the original story in Japanese.

Our readers may recall that we have covered Takuma Terakubo, formerly working for Tokyo-based startup incubator Samurai Incubate, has established Leapfrog Ventures for the purpose of investing in East African seed-stage startups. We have just got an update from the company  regarding their first investment.

The firm unveiled that it has invested $50,000 US in Exuus, the startup offering credit infrastructure for unbanked people in Rwanda and  neighboring countries. Leapfrog Ventures is the sole investor in this round.

A shot of a typical savings group in Rwanda where you can see ledgers for deposit and withdrawal records. Exuus wants to digitalize these using mobile devices.
Image credit: Exuus

Founded in 2014 by National University of Rwanda graduate Shema Steve, Exuus has been offering a wallet service and lending credit platform for unbanked communities in rural areas, called Save. With the funding at this time, the startup intends to expand beyond Rwanda into other neighboring countries like Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

Shema Steve, Founder and CEO of Exuus

In East Africa including Rwanda, community-based savings groups have been appearing all across the region. Having digital technology adopted by these groups enables Save group members to invest using mobile devices as well as to borrow money from lending services by leveraging the credit scoring feature.

An Exuus study says there are as many as 36,571 savings groups in Rwanda alone. In addition to Rwanda, Exuus targets other Sub-Saharan African countries with many unbanked and low-income individuals.

In addition to helping savings groups avoid trouble upon lending and borrowing money among members by objectively monitoring their credit scores, the platform allows them to raise money from external resources like financial institutions by sharing the data. Even non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can utilize the data to find out what kind of aid is needed in a specific region.

Banks collaborating with the Save platform can reach out to potential customers and explore credit needs without establishing branches or rolling out ATMs which are costly in terms of performance in poorly populated areas.

Leapfrog Ventures tells us that they are currently exploring other opportunities to invest in prominent startups in the region. We’ll keep you updated as to their next investment.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy