African Crypto Startup Raises $30 Million To Build A Web3 WeChat

Story Highlights
  • Being a super app means becoming a one-stop-shop for everything crypto. So while Jambo is testing about a dozen play-to-earn games including Axie Infinity that could meet local data bandwidth among other considerations, the startup is also working on a non-custodial wallet, which will allow users to send and swap cryptocurrencies as well as yearn yield on their holdings. Planned for launch in the third quarter of this year, it has locked in over 30,000 signups.

In the past year, play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity have transformed the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly in developing nations of Southeast Asia, where high unemployment combined with widespread smartphone penetration have led those struggling during the pandemic to look for an alternative source of income. With Axie, all it took was a smartphone, an internet connection, and a few extra hours.

That success story is not lost on James, 26, and Alice Zhang, 30, founders of up-and-coming cryptocurrency startup Jambo (the word means “hello” in Swahili). Natives of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the siblings started the company six months ago with the aim of bringing Web3, a blockchain-based version of the internet, to Africa. But their ambitions are much bigger than just gaming – they want to create a hub for Africa’s entire digital economy.

“We hope to become the super app of Africa, similarly to what WeChat has done in China in the last decade,” says James.

To that end, the company has revealed exclusively to Forbes the completion of a $30 million Series A funding round led by crypto-focused venture firm Paradigm. It is Paradigm’s first investment in the continent. Other high-profile investors in the round include Pantera Capital, Delphi Ventures, Kingsway Capital and Gemini Frontier Fund. The announcement comes quickly on the heels of Jambo’s $7.5 million seed round raised from Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research and Tiger Global, among others.

“Axie has been a really good example of how you can onboard a region through play-to-earn,” says Paradigm’s investment partner Casey Caruso, who has also helped the firm’s investment into Axie Infinity’s creator Sky Mavis. “We think of play-to-earn as just the beginning for Africa and specifically the beginning for Jambo.”

With its young population (70% of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 30), ever-growing smartphone penetration and third-fastest growing cryptocurrency economy, according to blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis, the market opportunity is massive.


Nichole Manhire

Is the media and brand manager at GFA News. She works very closely with editors and podcasters that contribute to telling the African business success story. For marketing and advertising send Nichole an email:

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