YC-backed Duplo raises $1.3m pre-seed to digitize B2B companies in Africa

Nigerian-based and Y Combinator backed Fintech startup, Duplo has raised USD$1.3 million pre-seed funding to provide technical solutions to problems around inefficiencies in terms of moving goods from manufacturers and suppliers to retailers; usually involving collecting cash through a network of agents.

The $1.3 million pre-seed funding round was led by early-stage pan-African VC firm Oui Capital with local and international investors such as MyAsia VC, Y Combinator, Flutterwave CEO, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola and Mono CEO, Abdul Hassan participating.

What is Duplo?

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Fintech startup Duplo was founded in September 2021 by Yele Oyekola a former product lead at Carbon, Tunde Akinnuwa the company’s CPO who, before Duplo, led lending and consumer payments at JumiaPay and Emeka Okwuagwu the company’s CTO; who was an engineering manager at ARCA Payments. 

The Fintech company was established to digitize payment flows for B2B companies in Africa so as to curb fraud in manual reconciliation processes on the distributors’ end, starting with those in the industry.

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With Duplo, distributors can create unique virtual accounts for retailers and agents to make real-time payments or bank transfers, while the platform helps to reconcile their books automatically.

But in the FMCG industry, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Making bank transfers to be quite expensive for some retailers and agents; instead, they visit mobile money agents to perform transactions.

How does Duplo Work?

Duplo charges a 1% fee for every transaction performed on its platform. And depending on their size, businesses also pay between ₦100 (~$0.20) to ₦1,000 (~$2.00) to create virtual accounts.

Besides providing tools that enable B2B companies to digitize their payment flows, there’s a no-code tool (API) for them to optimize business with their customers, vendors and suppliers. The platform also helps these companies to generate or pay invoices, offer credit to their business customers and a dashboard to attribute payment flows to a particular customer, retailer or location.

The co-founder Yele Oyekola said…. 

“The way we see our value prop is we help businesses automate, embed and launch payment products. So basically, inflows or outflows, automatic reconciliations for businesses and embedding payments into marketplaces. And then we also have businesses that want to provide BNPL services to smaller businesses,” 

Getting into Y Combinator

In November 2021, Duplo got accepted into Y Combinator and is also taking part in the accelerator’s current winter batch. 

“We’re excited to support Yele, Tunde, Emeka and the rest of the team at Duplo as they look to build a scalable B2B payments platform for the African market,” said Peter Oriaifo, principal at Oui Capital, 

“We believe that with the proliferation of commerce in Africa, there’s an emerging need for solutions such as Duplo’s that help abstract away complexities around payments.”

What’s next for Duplo?

Duplo will spend most of this investment on improving its product, tech and sales as well as move into other sectors aside from FMCG retail to businesses in travel, farming, B2B marketplaces, alcohol and beverages.

What you can do on Duplo Platform

  1. Collect payments

You can Seamlessly collect and recognize incoming payments with virtual accounts, notifications, and detailed reporting.

  1. Automate mass payouts

You can also automate payouts at scale to any bank account you want.

  1. Provide financial services to your business customers.

In the Duplo platform, you can create unlimited digital wallets in less than 5-minutes that can hold balances, receive and send payments instantly.

  1. Chain management

With ease, you can Issue virtual accounts to unique locations/branches, easily move money around and get greater performance insights and more.

What you should know about Duplo

Duplo launched its pilot three months ago, and claims their customers reported cost savings of more than 12% within that period. Duplo has also grown 60% month-month to serve 20+ enterprise businesses. Currently, it has processed over $380,000; however, Duplo has plans to reach $40 million in annualized TPV by the end of Q2, said the CEO.

According to the CEO…

“We are trying to make cash obsolete in Africa where lots of businesses in the distribution space heavily transact in cash for obvious reasons. We are focused on distributors, merchants and aggregators to stop the use of cash in this value chain because everyone knows how expensive cash is and how difficult it is to move with issues around theft and fraud.”

He added, “Our value proposition is we help businesses automate, embed and launch payment products. Basically, inflows or outflows, automatic reconciliations for businesses and embedding payments into marketplaces.

And then we also have businesses that want to provide BNPL services to smaller businesses.”

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