Uzoma Dozie Launches Neobank, Sparkle, Secures $3.1 Million Seed | all about Sparkle digital banking platform

Alt: = "Uzoma Dozie, CEO of Sparkle Nigeria inside Sparkle bank hall"

Uzoma Dozie, former Managing Director of defunct Diamond Bank has launched a neobank, Sparkle. Launched in April, 2021, Sparkle is a mobile-based digital bank that provides a combination of financial, lifestyle, and business support services to Nigerians.

Capabilities of Sparkles

While individuals can use features such as savings, bill payments, money transfers, and other basic services, Sparkle Business, launched in April this year, offers MSMEs and SMEs functions that include inventory and invoice management, a payment gateway service, tax advisory, and employee management.

Neobanks in Nigeria provide cheaper and more personalised banking through various models. Sparkle stands out in the sense that it is one of the few that offers a mix of individual and business banking services via a single platform.

Legality

Sparkle has been licensed by Central Bank of Nigeria to operate as a microfinance bank, fintech, and is partners with Pricewaterhoue Coopers (PwC), Network International, Visa to enable its services.

The Journey so Far 

Alt: = "screenshot of the Sparkle Tribe page on Sparkle Nigeria website"


Within few months of its launch, Sparkle has signed on more than 40,000 individual banking customers and 2,000 businesses. It plans to continue focusing on connecting Nigerians and the global Nigerian diaspora, Dozie told Tech Cabal

“Nigeria has a massive youth population who increasingly live, work and play beyond physical borders—we build with them in mind. Whether we are building services for individuals or businesses, we’re fully focused on creating a connected tribe of Sparklers.”

Funding

The pre-seed $2 million was raised through family and friend.

On Thursday, announced a $3.1 million seed fundraise from entirely Nigerian investors.

The round was led by Leadway Assurance with the participation of Trium Networks and a number of undisclosed high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in the country, according to the company it was over subscribed.

The latest funding brings Sparkle’s total investment secured to $5.1 million, having previously raised $2 million initial capital from friends and family. 

Sparkle plans to use the new investment to scale its talent teams across engineering, financial risk, and marketing departments as well as invest in its automated back-end processes and digital infrastructure, it said.

“I’m delighted to be collaborating with a group of highly respected Nigerian businesses, investment firms, and captains of industry. They all understand the real need for a digital-first platform such as Sparkle,” Uzoma Dozie said.

It’s uncommon in the Nigerian tech ecosystem to have a funding round of such value comprises comprising only local investors. The majority of the funding for startups in the country and across Africa comes from foreign investors and in some cases, both local and foreign venture capitalists invest in the same venture.

According to Dozie, the Sparkle team was “very deliberate” about having an all-Nigerian round as it always felt that having a selection of strategic local investors would be beneficial to the startup’s growth.

“Nigerians know Nigerians—their banking and spending habits, quirks, challenges—both as consumers and businesses. We wanted to make sure our investors really understood the market before committing to this round,” he told TechCabal.

Asked if his background in the financial services industry played a role in the successful fundraising effort, Dozie admitted his familiarity with local financiers and high-net-worth Nigerians helped convince them to bet their money on Sparkle.

“I think that helped, yes. I am used to speaking to financiers and know the language and the key triggers to galvanise them into action. And they are used to me shouting loud and hard, over the years, about leveraging digital and technology to scale financial services for Nigeria,” he said.

Dozie adds that he will be “leaning on sector expertise and insight” of the new investors to build long-lasting partnerships as Sparkle scales and predicted an improvement in the participation of HNWIs in Nigeria’s tech and venture capital space in the near future.

“I think the trend will change as the market opportunities become more obvious to them, and better connections and networks are forged between tech entrepreneurs and HNWIs in Nigeria. We want to see barriers to access broken down, which is important, but HNWIs also need to feel comfortable in investing in new sectors that they may not be so familiar with.”

How to Access Sparkle Digital Bank Platform

  • Visit Sparkle to know more, and open account
  • You can download The Sparkle Tribe App on Google play or Appstore. 


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