4 Kenyan Startups Building Innovative Solutions on the Celo Blockchain

Celo, a mobile-first blockchain focused on emerging markets, recently announced a $100 million program to bring ‘DeFi to the People’ in form of educational grants and incentives on top of the platform.

The buzz on decentralized finance (DeFi) and applications continues to build up in Kenya with some innovative already building on to of Celo.

In this post, we take a look at some of these key startups that are offering innovative solutions when it comes to payments in the country.

Kotani Pay

Kotani Pay is a technology stack enabling blockchain protocols, decentralized applications (dApps) and finTech companies integrate seamlessly to local payment channels in Africa with a primary focus on mobile money services.

Kotani Pay makes it easier to integrate through its secure APIs that support lending protocols, payment platforms, saving circles, exchanges, dapps and teams innovating around value transfer.

Kotani Pay has already integrated with some of th emore dominant mobile money payment services on the platform that includes:

  • Airtel Money
  • MTN Money

Kotani Pay is supporting the cUSD (Celo Dollar) which is a stable currency that tracks the price of the U.S. dollar.


SEE ALSO: Celo Partners with Leading DeFi Projects in a $100 Million Initiative to Bring DeFi to the Developing World



Pezesha is a digital lending marketplace connecting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with affordable working capital financing.

Founded by Hilda Moraa, the platform takes a collaborative approach to utilize capital from lenders (i.e banks and other financial institutions) in the market, seeking purposeful returns by lending to creditworthy quality SMEs as identified by its robust credit scoring technology.

In April 2021, Pezesha partnered with Celo to enabled blockchain-powered lending to merchants across supply chain verticals in Kenya and Ghana.

Pezesha seeks to leverage Celo’s blockchain infrastructure to democratise loans and ensure they are competitive to the platform’s borrowers while creating a global network effect.

Since 2017, Pezesha has connected over 200, 000 MSMEs with working capital helping create more than 1, 000 formal sector jobs and over 5, 000 informal sector jobs.

So far, Pezesha has funded more than 75, 000 loans and educated over 200, 000 MSMEs across Kenya.


Kukuza is a mobile-first crypto-based micro-investing and loans platform with a community made up of small local groups in emerging and frontier markets, commonly referred to as Chamas (Kenya).

Kukuza is structured as a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) built on the Celo blockchain and owned by community members.

With Kukuza, groups of up to 5 people can start a Kukuza circle and invite up to 4 other members to join. These circles are a central element for each financial product on Kukuza.

An investment plan is Kukuza’s first financial product where members are encouraged to invest regularly through a combination of:

  • Positive financial incentives
  • Social accountability between circle members
  • Flexibility

Circle members can even choose to step in for each other.

According to Steffren Krogmann, founder of Kukuza, the ubiquity of M-Pesa makes Kenya the natural place to start Kukuza. It is already second nature for Kenyans to use their phones for all financial matters.


Pesabase uses blockchain as a means of moving money quickly and cheaply, avoiding bank settlement times that take days. Through its wallet, Pesabase enables its users to hold tokens, virtual currencies and stablecoins, giving them the opportunity to remit, pay and transact securely.

Pesabase was founded by Nhial Majok, who lived in the midst of war in Sudan before fleeing with his family from conflict as a refugee. He lived in 5 countries before finally settling in Australia where he built his career in IT for over 15 years while working with IBM.

In 2013, Nhial was struck by the promise of bitcoin as an alternative to the financial system of the day. After several experiments with tech and its potential, he went all in and founded Pesabase in 2017.

The app based platform also allows users to send money from South Sudan to Kenya using just your mobile phone or a registered agent.


RECOMMENDED READING: PayU, a Leading Online Payments Service in Africa, Emerging Markets, to Offer Celo Stablecoin as a Payment Option


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