Finnish Messaging Startup “Jongla” Secured $5.3 Million to Expand Across Nigeria and Rest of Africa
Helsinki-based messenger Jongla announced Thursday that they had secured a $5.3 million (€5 million) Series B funding round, bringing their all-time haul to €12 million. The round was entirely dominated by Finnish investors Circlion Capital Oy, Matti Kallio, Henry Sjöman, and Kontino Invest Oy. Additional investors in the company include Gustav Nyberg, Kristian Pentti,Takoa Invest Oy, Ingman Finance Oy, and JSH Capital Oy.
Jongla founder Arto Boman communicated that the money will help them consolidate their hold in Nigeria, where they have landed in Lagos, and expand throughout Africa (and beyond). Other priority countries seem to make up a who’s-who list of emerging superpowers: Brazil, Turkey, India, Indonesia and Iran.
“Messaging apps are the new ecosystem for the next generation of apps and services. Our team of investors have seen first hand the positive direction the messaging business is heading in and they want to enable the next chapter of the Jongla story,” Boman said. “With the new capital and through new strategic partnerships, our aim is to further leverage AI and bots that we believe will revolutionize messaging between businesses and consumers.”
Their claim to fame is that they are, and I quote, the “world’s lightest, full-featured messenger.” They introduced Jongla Social Messenger to their app earlier this year, hoping to piggyback off that to expand in Africa with a marketing message that users can “save money and use less data” with a light messaging app. The app also lets you find friends who are close by. It’s available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Jongla CEO Riku Salminen added, “We have seen rapid growth this year, driven by the demand for light and social apps in emerging markets. This Autumn alone, our users have sent three times the amount of messages – the uplift has been huge.”
While still less developed with massive infrastructure like in the West, Africa has a vibrant mobile network that residents use for managing all kinds of services that might otherwise be online or through more traditional venues. Transferring payments is one such use that has been popular on mobile, and could be an excellent market for the messaging sector to capitalize on. In the US, Facebook has been facilitating payments for sometime now.
Jongla has a number of competitors, most obviously WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, and Telegram. Lesser known competition comes from text+, Chatimity, and Denver-based Kwippit. Jongla so far has 1 million downloads and 21,748 ratings with a 4.0 average in the Google Play store.