Pan-African centralized crypto exchange Mara announced Wednesday that it has raised $23 million to create a portal to the crypto economy for Africans.
Investors include Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research (FTX), Distributed Global, TQ Ventures, DIGITAL, Nexo, Huobi Ventures, Day One Ventures, Infinite Capital, DAO Jones, and about 100 other crypto investors.
Unlike its competitors from North America and Europe, Mara’s onboarding, support, and ecosystem reflect the needs of Africans. Customer support is easily accessed and will be available in both local and international languages.
“While there are other crypto exchanges in Africa, there is yet to be an indigenous African crypto exchange,” said Mara’s CEO, Chi Nnandi. “That’s where Mara comes in — we are a Pan-African crypto exchange built by Africans, for Africans.
The Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya-based company has also announced a partnership with the Central African Republic, which just passed a bill legalizing Bitcoin as legal tender. As part of this partnership, Mara will become the official crypto partner of the Central African Republic and an adviser to the president on crypto strategy and planning.
Mara’s launch comes during a period in which political and economic instability has led to the devaluation of currencies across Africa. As a result, interest rates, as well as food prices, have skyrocketed.
“The inefficiencies inherent to the old 20th [century] centralized Sub-Saharan African financial systems has presented an obstacle to the proper development of Sub-Saharan individuals and economies for decades,” said Chi Nnandi, CEO of Mara, in an interview with VentureBeat. “A decentralized alternative (which will include but not be limited to finance, art, ownership, infrastructure, and business as a whole) will give Sub-Saharan Africans an alternative to these tired systems. Through this digital financial system — through this freedom — the region will find itself in a much stronger competitive position before other parts of the world.”
“Mara’s mission is to facilitate a more equitable distribution of capital by providing a decentralized alternative that spans across tribes, class, cultures, and countries,” said Nnadi. “Our goal is to close the gap in opportunities for Sub-Saharan individuals and establish a financial infrastructure that they can build their lives upon.”