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Union54 becomes first Zambian fintech accepted into Y Combinator



Alessandra Martini and Perseus Mlambo, founders of Union54

Twice a year, a list of startups are admitted into Y Combinator’s cohort, receiving training, seed funds and all that’s needed to scale. Today, Zambia’s Union54 has joined the list.

In 2005, the startup accelerator began its journey to help businesses thrive well. So far, it has funded over 3,000 startups, including Stripe, Airbnb, Coinbase, Flexport, Gitlab, Paystack, DoorDash, among others.

Launched by Zambian fintech company, Zazu, whose founders are Perseus Mlambo and Alessandra Martini, Union54 was established in August last year.

It is a digital banking app which is connected to a debit card.

It allows users to operate and issue these debit cards in their businesses.

Union54 was developed by Zazu in a bid to solve the problem of long waiting periods for conventional banks to issue debit cards to the company.

“We just realised that either the processor or the bank was not necessarily well equipped to be able to answer our questions or to be able to give us the product that we’re looking for,” Mlambo told TechCrunch in an interview.

Zazu’s mobile wallet allows customers to digitally send, receive, pay and save money with or without a bank account. The platform leverages several APIs that allow fintech companies to issue programmable debit cards.

Mlambo elaborated that the company has leveraged its membership to help African fintech companies seeking to issue their cards. In his words, they can go to them, plug into their APIs, and move quickly, without spending time on negotiations.

“I am really excited and proud that Union54 has become the first Zambian fintech to get accepted into Y Combinator. And the second in Southern Africa, ” said Mlambo. “As you well know, when global investors look at Africa, they often do so from a West African perspective and our getting into Y Combinator validates a small part of our broader hypothesis: it is possible to service Africa from friendly jurisdictions such as Zambia.”

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