African trading platform WaystoCap raises $3M right after graduating Y Combinator

Cross-border commerce platform WaystoCap has raised new funding to expand its reach in Africa, the startup confirmed to TechCrunch today.

A recent graduate from the Y Combinator accelerator program in the U.S., WaystoCap is an online destination for buyers and sellers of business-to-business goods in Africa. Founded in Casablanca, Morocco, it aims to digitize the centuries old cross-bordering trading industry that exists in the continent and make it easier for those outside of Africa to get into the region.

Today’s fundraise is undisclosed, but a source close to the company told TechCrunch that it is between $2.5 million to $3 million in size.

That’s certainly a significant seed round for an Africa-based company, and the money is courtesy of a range of investors that include Y Combinator, Battery Ventures, Soma Capital, Palm Drive Capital, Amino Capital, Endure Capital, Story Ventures, Lynett Capital, Neon Capital and 4DX LLC. In addition, Y Combinator partner Michael Seibel, Golden founder Jude Gomila, SixDoors CEO Pascal Levy Garboua were among the angel investors to take part.

CEO Niama El Bassunie said WaystoCap plans to spend the money expanding to West Africa via an office in Benin, expanding its industry verticals — which currently stand at 12 — and developing a new platform to match buyers and sellers more efficiently.

El Bassunie said the company picked Benin, the tiny country in West Africa, as a strategic location because “lot of neighboring land-locked countries go through there,” and that includes the lucrative Nigerian import industry.

“The presence gives us local commerce guarantees and makes us look a lot better on the ground,” she explained in an interview.

Benin is just the start and WaystoCap is eying an additional two to three more offices in West Africa, most probably starting with Nigeria, in addition to a base in London where finance trade partnerships are typically struck. Next year, El Bassunie explained, the company will look to open a physical presence in East Africa to make a push in that region.

Right now, El Bassunie — who is one of four co-founders — said that the company has “thousands” of active buyers on its platform. She said WaystoCap processed $3.1 million of transactions in the first quarter of 2017, easily surpassing the $2.2 million it clocked for the whole of 2016. The company was cashflow positive prior to it decision to go after investment in order grow quickly, she added.

The rapid growth the company has realized this year is down in a large part to its participation in YC, the WaystoCap CEO said.

“They’re an accelerator program that really allows you to accelerate,” she said. “YC helps you to focus on your messaging and their help is invaluable.”