Nigeria’s multi-merchant rewards platform ThankUCash has raised $5.3m in seed funding to expand its operations in Nigeria’s 3 major cities – Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt, scale operations to other cities across the country and expand to Ghana and Kenya.
The seed round was co-led by 500 Global and Unicorn Growth Capital with participation from Expert Dojo, Predictive VC, SaaS growth Ventures, Betatron Hong kong, Accelerex Holding, Andrew Dell (former CEO of HSBC), Craig Fenton (Director, Strategy & Operations At Google), among others.
Co-founded in 2018 by Simeon Ononobi (CEO), Suraj Supekar (CTO), Madonna Ononobi (COO) and Harshal Gandole (Senior VP, Engr.), ThankUCash offers cashbacks on purchases and deals from thousands of merchants which in turn helps merchants retain customer loyalty, increase revenue and grow.
Leading the East African expansion is the highly experienced Aaron Tindiseega. He’s vastly experienced in building tech startups across emerging markets with an enviable working history in the African banking and tech industry. Aaron worked as the Country Manager of Uber in Uganda until last year, he’s also worked at Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic IBTC. For the Ghana expansion, Kiki Anku will lead the charge, having worked at Apple and possessing a wealth of experience in the startup world.
According to ThankUCash CEO Simeon Ononobi, the funds will also be used to introduce two new products. “We are expanding our products to remittances in all our markets and a ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ infrastructure to power the industry.”
ThankUCash will provide the tech infrastructure which will connect merchants with credit/loan facilities such that customers can pay directly for goods and services through the ThankUCash super App, with loans from credit facilities.
“The technology is such that we have our machines in stores. So as customers request loans, we generate a code for it, customers input it into the POS machine and the merchant gets credited directly. The code can only be used in the store chosen and only for the loan amount requested, such that at the end of the day the customer is buying straight from the merchants. We’re opening this infrastructure to everybody and want to actually give that platform to loan companies,” he explained.
Amit Bhatti, Principal at 500 Global, had words about the investment. “Since going through 500 Global’s accelerator in 2019, we’ve been impressed by Simeon and the TUC team’s progress in implementing a rewards system that works for Nigerian consumers, regardless of cash or credit or online or offline payment. It’s a win-win for businesses and banks too, as TUC gives them the tools and data they need to grow. Now as partnerships have expanded their reach to many more potential users and new markets across Africa, we’re excited to support the continued evolution of the company.”
Barbara Iyayi, Managing Founding Partner, Unicorn Growth Capital
Speaking on ThankUCash’s signature cash back product, Ononobi revealed that the feedback from merchants who are excited about the product and how it has helped them retain customers has encouraged the team to come up with more products for expansion. “Trivets Supermarket in Lekki is one of such merchants. Enyo is another and one of our biggest as they even put our logo on their trucks, and were very excited about what we did for their business. The feedback has encouraged us to do more.
So we have signed a partnership with Interswitch to onboard all their merchants and improve our numbers. Wema Bank and about seven other national and multinational bank partnerships are also in the pipeline,” he added.
With a staff strength of about 45 employees and a little over two years of operations, ThankUCash has recorded over 600,000 users and onboarded over 1,000 stores on its platform whilst processing $80 million plus in transaction volume.
The ultimate vision for ThankUCash is to create sustainable solutions for SMEs/merchants to succeed while increasing customer buying power.
“The vision for us at ThankUCash is not just for our merchants to be happy because they are staying in business and making money. We also want to make spending fun, because with us there is always an opportunity for you. It ranges from the ‘cashback’ product where you get more customers, to ‘deals’ where you get to sell off your products quickly or ‘buy now pay later’ where you get to sell your products whether or not the customers have money, and even ‘remittances’ where you can sell yourself to the diaspora.
“At the end of the day, the idea for us is to make sure that all our products are geared towards the survival of the merchants and to redistribute wealth towards Africans,” Ononobi said.