Alerzo, an e-commerce and payment solutions startup backed by billionaire Michael Novogratz’s family office, plans to raise between $50 million (N20.5bn) and $100m (N41bn) to expand across Africa’s most populous nation, a report by Bloomberg has said.
“We have started talking to people. Possibly it could be this year or next,” Adewale Opaleye, 27, Alerzo’s founder and chief executive officer, said in a virtual interview from Ibadan in southwest Nigeria, where the firm is headquartered alongside Singapore.
The company has raised $20m (N8.2bn) so far.
The goal is to extend services to more than half of Nigeria’s 36 states – from about 10 currently – by next year.
Asked if the company would reach the coveted unicorn valuation of at least $1bn (N411bn), Opaleye said it was possible as the company had been growing faster than expected.
Bloomberg reports that Nigeria and its huge informal economy have been Africa’s breeding ground for tech unicorns as companies catering to a large unbanked population revolutionize the way people transfer money and pay for goods and services.
Alerzo is providing goods delivery services, cashless payments and mobile airtime top-up to more than 150,000 informal mom-and-pop stores in Nigeria and processing more than 400,000 transactions per month. Its annualized transaction value for September exceeded $155m, according to an emailed statement.
“Instead of retailers walking around a central market to buy products, they just sit in their shops and order products via phone calls, text messages and right now a mobile app,” Opaleye said.