Qwili raises $1.2m in an oversubscribed seed funding round

South African startup Qwili gets $1.2M to scale its app and low-cost NFC-enabled smartphone. Qwili has developed a hybrid hardware-software product consisting of a smartphone and a digital sales ecosystem. Levels of smartphone penetration in Africa are deceptively low. Since Qwili started in 2020, they discovered that access to reliable smartphones and therefore also the mobile internet is very low, even though some statistics suggest that it is relatively high.

A purely digital product looking to access the Sub-Saharan African market is therefore invariably severely constrained by this lack of fundamental “infrastructure”. Qwili developed a quality, affordable smartphone to address this gaps for its target user, namely, agents, who use these devices a POS systems.

We’re excited to announce our raise of $1.2m in an oversubscribed seed funding round, boosting our mission to make digital products and services accessible to digitally excluded and unbanked consumers. Thank you to all the investors who have backed this vision!

Says the team.

E4E Africa led the round with participation from  Strat-Tech, Next Chymia, Untapped Global, Codec Ventures, Ashwin Ravichandran and Kanyi Maqubela.

Qwili also develops an operating system for its devices, of which the central feature is a sales portal (also a downloadable app for non-Qwili phones).

Qwili agents use this sales portal to sell value-added services such as airtime, electricity and pay TV subscriptions for a commission. This enables them to generate additional income and it enables the end consumer to access products they otherwise might not have access to or would need to incur a large cost to access with ease.

The company is founded by Luyolo Sijake, Thandwefika Radebe and Tapfuma Masunzambwa.

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