Kenyan money manager app Alvin raises $740k pre-seed funding round

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Kenyan startup Alvin, a smart money manager app that helps people align their daily spending around savings goals, has raised a US$740,000 pre-seed funding round as it continues to hone its product, which is in the private beta phase.

Formed in May of last year, Alvin is a smart money manager app that uses automated budgeting, personalised offers and applied behavioural game design strategies to help people align their daily spending around their savings goals in a sustainable way.

The startup launched its flagship product, the Alvin App v1 Labrador private beta, as an intentionally soft launch while it made amendments ahead of a formal launch, and ended last year by closing an oversubscribed US$740,000 pre-seed funding round.

The round was led by Ingressive Capital, and featured Zephyr Acorn, Voltron Capital, Future Africa and Tahseen Consulting. Other notable investors in the round included Paystack CEO Shola Akinlade, and Tony Nicalo, the former CEO of marketing company Dondé. It also includes US$100,000 from US-based B2B SaaS-focused accelerator programme by Forum Ventures after Alvin was selected to take part in its W22 batch starting this month, while a few additional American and Kenyan angels also participated.

Alvin’s CEO Winston Reid told Disrupt Africa he and his co-founders founded the startup to solve a problem they and their peers were coming across on a regular basis.

“The only personal finance apps we could find in Kenya were not optimised for the local context, offered no guidance to help us acquire the assets we wanted to save toward, and only offered the ability to save but give no daily support to help us save for goals that require consistency for long periods of time,” he said.

“In order for anyone to build sustainable saving habits, they need to have sustainable spending habits. And doing this requires giving people more support than reminders to make deposits.” 

The first version of the Alvin app, “Labrador”, is currently in private beta. It features automated expense tracking for M-Pesa, and the ability to create a budget in two minutes, showing users how much they can spend on things like groceries, entertainment and rent each month based on their income and most important savings goal. 

“Next, we will be adding card transaction tracking for Kenyan banks and the ability to contribute to a high interest yield savings account without having to leave the Alvin app. Alvin is ultimately designed to be your daily pocket companion that makes it dead simple to feel like you’re in control of your financial situation, and that every day you’re on a clear path toward buying that plot of land, or that house,” Reid said.

The Alvin app will launch publicly in Kenya in the next few months, but the startup already has international ambitions.

“With powerhouses Ingressive Capital, Shola Akinlade, Voltron Capital and Future Africa onboard, we have immediate plans to expand to Nigeria in the latter half of 2022,” Reid said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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