jamboa Congo-based startup building Africa’s web3 user acquisition portal through “learn, play, earn” and democratizing access to cryptocurrency-based income-generating opportunities, has raised $7.5 million in seed funding .
Experts say Africa is about to be disrupted by web3 in a similar way that saw Southeast Asia become one of the best markets for web3. The latter is home to startups like Axie Infinity and Yield Guild Games, which have raised millions of dollars in venture capital due to their adoption of cryptocurrency and play-to-win models.
The mix of positives such as a rapidly growing population – the youngest in the world – solid smartphone penetration, growing adoption of cryptocurrencies and negatives such as low GDP per capita and unemployment make Africa the next ripe ground for development. web3.
And some companies, like Jambo, are positioning themselves for this next boom. According to James Zhang, its co-founder and CEO, Jambo wants to onboard millions of users to web3 in Africa through its apps. He founded the company with his sister Alice Zhang – both Chinese born in Congo – in December 2021 after realizing the opportunity to duplicate the success of web3 projects in Southeast Asia across Africa.
While users of Axie Infinity and other guilds only earn an income while playing under a revenue-sharing model, Jambo is taking a two-way approach, allowing its users to do so when participating in web2 and web3 activities.
For example, users can save their data expenses by using Jambo. Zhang explains that Jambo partners with telecom providers to get a nearly 70% discount and sell directly to their users at a 50% discount off the original cost. “It’s one of our main user acquisition strategies, where we want to double the airtime and data for all Africans,” Zhang said.
Second, Jambo is partnering with social media companies so that users can earn tokens (which they can convert to income) while watching their content on their app.
“The reason we can do this is through partnerships with these companies, as we tokenize a portion of their advertising budget and deliver it directly to the end user,” he said. “A lot of web2 or even web3 incumbents are having user acquisition costs of $100-200, so we can reduce that by an order of magnitude by directly incentivizing the end user.”
The last part is playing to win games. There are currently no popular play-to-win web3 games in Africa and this is because the infrastructure to create them, which is through Guilds, is lacking. Zhang said Jambo wants to build this infrastructure. Still, unlike well-known guilds whose business models involve taking profit percentages from their users, his company does not plan to cut the earnings of its users. Instead, Jambo’s revenues would come from web2 models – charging advertising dollars and commissions for selling airtime and data.
As “Africa’s web3 integration portal”, the CEO said that Jambo is testing more than 10 games to win to present to its users in the coming months. But for a region with little or no understanding of how web3 works, how does Jambo expect its project to take off without a hitch?
“Education is at the heart of what we do because I think there is no shortcut in Africa. You need to educate the user base before you even think about monetizing or starting to acquire users at the end of the day. That’s why we’re launching full-curriculum classes on web3. We plan to roll it out to more than five universities in Africa by the end of the first quarter,” he replied.
Since the beginning of this year, Jambo has enrolled more than 12,000 students in 15 countries (Morocco, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar and Africa) to make a curated web3 resume, both online and offline. The company said this would allow students to explore opportunities in games to win and decentralized finance (DeFi). The 10-week programs are available at colleges and over 600 physical partner locations, where hundreds of ambassadors enroll students.
with almost 60% of the population under 24 years old it’s almost 50% of university graduates in Africa are unemployedJambo believes his model of educating users about games to win and DeFi can “lead to financial prosperity in ways Africans could never have accessed before.”
Educating Africa’s youth population about web3 and decentralization seems to be a theme that has been correlated with recent web3 upstarts in Africa. Nigeria-based Nestcoin, for example, has raised $6.4 million to scale its web3 initiatives, which include Breach, a media outlet that creates small, informative cryptographic content for its users.
Both companies have different play-to-win models – Nestcoin runs a gaming guild called Metaverse Magna (MVM), Jambo does not. However, they are similar in creating a new web3 segment in Africa, unlike more established platforms such as remittances and cryptocurrency exchanges.
For Zhang, the key distinction is that while customary platforms help Africans save and send money, new starters are increasing earning potential and wealth for users.
“I think in Africa there is no money to save because there are 1% super rich and 99% equal. So for us, we started with a different methodology, which is to help the average person make money,” said the chief executive.
“That’s why all the components of our super app are actually to help ordinary people make money playing to win, to make money watching videos and saving money on data credits. So ideally, in three to six months, when our app is online, the average person can earn $50 a month playing Axie Infinity, earn another $20 a month watching videos, and earn another $10 a month from the money you save on data credits. That would be the ideal situation that our app can do with everyone.”
Jambo expects to launch its beta in Q2 and go live in Q3. And in a bid to build their super app, the 60-man team spread across sub-Saharan Africa, Santa Clara and Shenzhen raised a party round of investors who backed prominent web3 companies like Avalanche, Dharma, BlockFi and Polygon.
They include Coinbase Ventures, Three Arrows Capital (3AC), Alameda Research, Tiger Global, Delphi Ventures, AllianceDAO, DeFiance Capital, Yield Guild Games and Polygon Studios. And some angel investors in the web3 ecosystem like Polygon co-founder and CEO Sandeep Nailwal; former ParaFi partner Santiago R Santos; Terraform Labs co-founder and CEO Do Kwon; and partner at Delphi Digital Piers Kicks.
“What WeChat did in China, Jambo will do in Africa. Excited to support this A+ team in becoming the continent’s Web3 super app,” Santiago R Santos, web3 investor and former ParaFi partner, said in a statement.