Jambo is one of the leaders in the African blockchain industry. Their business extends to many areas: Jambo is a venture company, a Web 3.0 super app developer for African countries, and a creator of educational projects, including in the field of cryptocurrencies.
Jambo’s super app concept combines education and gamesharing to earn money and lower barriers for entry and access to a personalized network of Web 3.0 applications.
In recent months, the founders have assembled a team of 100 people and opened offices in 15 countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. Jambo has partnered with thousands of Internet cafes and colleges to improve students’ access to computers and high-speed internet.
We spoke to Joachim Lécrivain, Jambo co-founder and investor.
– First question: How was Jambo created? Who were the company founders?
– I really can’t talk about the founders in detail, but I can speak as to why we created the company. It’s all about the availability of innovation in specific countries and regions – Africa, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. We wanted to provide people with technology, so our job is to invest in projects we determine to be the most relevant.
That was the whole idea that let us grow as much as we did. It is also why so many major companies got behind us. That, and because of people like me with significant experience in innovation, technology, crypto, etc. That’s what got us involved in the first place and led to the creation of a startup. The $30-35 million for a newly-founded company is not something you see very often.
– It really is a large sum. So, how would you describe your role in the company? What are you responsibilities?
– Technically, I’m a co-founder and an investor. Our venture firm is involved in developing tech companies.
But that’s not the only way I could describe myself. I am also connected to Blackstone – a New York-based investment corporation that has a long history with tech. They use us as a subsidiary to create new projects and give us funding. We do many tech-related things, but we also see ourselves as a business incubator and venture capital company.
Due to my eight years of experience in tech and crypto, I was kindly offered the position of co-founder to help with various issues.
What we do is support our companies by funding them and helping them hire people. I look at what they want in the first place and show them what we have to offer.
I’m in it for the long run, so if they don’t kick me out, I won’t leave. That’s the whole idea of what we are and who we are. I mainly grew as a co-founder, but, of course, I am also an investor, which gives me two different perspectives. That’s who I am.
– Can you give the precise date the company was founded? Or, perhaps a year?
– It was in 2019 when we had a kind of unpublicised launch, but we only went public and showed what we have in terms of technology this year. We had a lot of staff work to do, so it took us until 2022 to become an open platform available for public use.
– Just out of curiosity, what was the idea behind the company name? It’s like a big challenge, an elephant. Was that the association?
– It’s more about something very big in the culture. For people doing something as significant as investing in the future, the name has to match. It emphasizes the desire to create, be yourself, develop new technology and innovate. It is what is truly valuable right now – the ability to think freely. Like all other companies in the world, we have a specific name that fits our purpose. We want to be accessible, want people to think about us. So it makes sense for us.
– It’s also a memorable name, easy to promote from the marketing perspective.
– Yes, and that’s how it should be. I always make sure people remember and see the name in the app’s main ad. They notice it and remember having seen it before, maybe even from childhood memories. The goal is for them to think, “OK, I recognize this name, so I’m going to look this up”.
– Let’s talk about Africa. This region is not usually considered the richest or most favorable for businesses. And you have chosen quite an unconventional area of activity – Web 3.0. At what point and how did you realize that this could be a viable enterprise, especially in Africa?
– Africa is definitely not in the Web 3.0 space yet. But I have contacts in some small companies, and there is definitely progress. I feel that this concept will gain a lot of traction in the region. Sadly, however, we have so far mostly received negative news on this topic, often describing some kind of scam. Still, it’s a major process, so we expect to see some “growing pains”, unfortunate though they may be.
The people here are brilliant – they simply do not have the means to implement their vision. That’s why we try to reach out to local companies and say, “Hey, what’s your idea? Is it possible? What do you need from us?” Then, we get people from all over the world to work on the project. It’s nice to see the creation of something in Africa that has the potential to last. The world doesn’t hear much about the continent, but now it may change. People here are just as intelligent and innovative as everywhere – at least, many of them smarter than I am.
– Still, from the business perspective, the African population mostly has low purchasing capacity. Do you feel that is an issue?
– I think things like Web 3.0 have become much more available. For some services, you only need your phone, which many people have. One thing we really what to provide is cryptonumbers – a trend on an upward trajectory in Africa. It’s all the same, essentially – tokens, NFTs, digital art, etc.
Unfortunately, people might simply not know anything about it since no one really follows it. I traveled a lot, picking up startups and different projects with BTVC. Some failed, some worked out. But as far as Africa is concerned, people just don’t follow the developments here.
It is similar to the way cryptocurrency users pay. Sometimes they prefer using this method and the money they have. And looking at the specific details, I think you can apply it in real life, specifically to Web 3.0 concepts. In this case, a stable Internet connection is all you need.
Furthermore, the entire world is adapting to earning money and launching tokens while playing video games. You can then be confident in the tokens you receive, transfer them to a card or use them as real money. The trend definitely gave people an incentive to start using Web 3.0 more. And as they continue utilizing Web 3.0, more projects that apply to everyday life will come to life. It’s a cycle where you start with one thing and end up doing more.
– Does your service cover all African countries, or are there specific nations you target?
– We try not to single out specific regions. Of course, the population is mainly concentrated in particular areas, but we consider all available possibilities. We have a lot of coding to do and many technologies that work in different languages. You also need to remember that Africa has diverse accents, and people often use different words. We have to account for it in our work, because even villages next to each other may not speak in the same way. We continue providing services for everyone and customising our platform, app, and NFT for the benefit of users.
– In the African context, Nigeria could be considered an exception. It is an oil-rich country with significant cash flow – probably why people there are so involved. Do you think you could succeed in the poorest countries as well? Do you have a plan to include Africa’s most impoverished populations?
– We are mainly looking at countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola. Things are going well in South Africa, and if we come to Madagascar, I believe it will work out as well. I would also mention Egypt and Morocco. The point is, even in the less wealthy nations, technology is still being used. As long as the country has a “green dot”, – something is being actively used there.
When it comes to the impoverished nations, we rely on the fact that they have the suitable materials and the way to use them. In the past, a lack of internet connection or stable electricity could cause a problem. But things we could not fix technically were often being done by local inventors. That’s why in Africa, we continue investing in projects that work on water and power supply or provide the best possible Internet access. It is our role as a venture company.
Jambo focuses on a variety of projects, using our money to facilitate innovation and improve accessibility with things like power. We hear of an issue, we act. Unfortunately, even we cannot expand the electrical grid everywhere.
– Could you talk about market shares of specific countries? Do you have exact numbers for particular states you can give us?
– The last I looked at market shares, in South Africa it is about 35%. Congo is approximately 18-19%. Nigeria is 26% or more. The rest are all 10% or less.
There aren’t many companies using Web 3.0 right now, and there aren’t many people dealing in crypto either. 35% of all crypto users is a huge number. For Congo, it is 26%, Cameroon with 26% as well. So, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Congo, being in the same region, all demonstrate similar numbers. In Egypt, we actually also have a pretty large share of crypto users – about 36%, if I’m not mistaken, which is a record.
– So the largest market share is South Africa, correct?
– Yes, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya. But South Africa definitely stands out because of how many people there use crypto. It’s a nice and cheap place to live, so many crypto holders reside in South Africa and work remotely. A lot of people in the country who own cryptocurrency had actually moved there.
– What do you do to deal with the huge diversity of languages? How do you communicate with so many different peoples living on the continent?
– Our team has members from regions that we focus on. We also reach out to people from all around the continent and hire professional translators because we believe in prioritizing accessibility. We do this, for example, by writing a script and simply stating our values in different languages. We’d rather spend more time but ensure accessibility for everyone.
There are also those familiar with crypto coming to us, who we can use when we have something to translate. A project at this level has not been done before, so we do what we need to succeed.
– Let’s discuss your business models. Can you talk about your company’s operating principles?
– Two things are of the utmost importance to us – accessibility, which I always mention, and technology. It is how we work as a venture company and also the principles I use personally.
Our approach is, “If you want us, we can join in”. We have a huge team. Let’s say you need people in graphic design – we can get you the right person. If you need an office anywhere, we will provide you with an office. If you want to establish business connections, we help with this as well. We don’t just offer services for your money – we help you out all along the way as we check up on you from time to time to see your progress. And if there are no improvements, just open the door – we are happy to step in and do everything you would like us to do.
I believe it does more for the company than just sending investment their way. Each project is reviewed and selected, so we are not just throwing money in the wind. We’re even talking to founders to see if we can join as a co-founder and not just an investor.
I would say that a business model is mostly about values. Our business model reflects our values, not just strict rules and directives. And it definitely relies on hard work. We deal with major projects around the world, so for us, it is not about making lots of investments but making the right ones.
– Do you feel your work is influenced by the latest trends?
– No, I really don’t think so. Of course, we see and feel them at the highest level, and sometimes we have to tell ourselves, “OK, maybe we should stop”. Our portfolio is very extensive and diverse as it is
The market has changed following the ups and downs of crypto companies. But even now, after a heavy fall, there is a general uptick. The companies are doing better, many are actually moving back to green, which means they are making money again. They were in the red for several weeks, but this is what happens in the market. Risks are involved, and we cannot expect to win all the time.
We talk to the companies we work with, so we know what they can and must do and are able to support them. Our clients are doing all right now – it’s like the whole business model helps them. They call me at 4 in the morning and say: “Hey, we need help.” I’m like, “OK.” I get up and talk to the team to see if I can assist in any way.
Other companies, even big ones like Coinbase, don’t handle market crashes as well because they rely on a wallet or an exchange. Many projects we work with don’t require clients to hold crypto, they are more about you using it. And when you are with us, there is a lot we can do if a coin value decreases. Our partners sell, buy and hold crypto. We support staking projects, credit card companies, tech and software companies. We have a multitude of products, and sometimes it can be difficult for us to focus on one thing. Innovation is what it’s all about.
– What is your prediction for what will happen to the crypto industry in the next six months?
– That’s a complex question. The cryptocurrency world is volatile, and I hope it doesn’t grow too much anymore. The recent market turmoil was caused by people who get into cryptocurrencies to make money leaving out of fear. Now, it looks like all those who deal with crypto just want to be in the crypto world because they love the industry itself. It’s better than people who come only to make money and leave.
I definitely see the industry become more stable as the newcomers are increasingly here to stay – and big companies follow people.
So while now the crypto market is going up and down because many are buying and selling digital money, I think it will stabilize, and more businesses will get involved. In truth, I believe many companies need the crypto industry.
Some of the firms I deal with, including major crypto exchanges like Coinbase and Crypto.com, needed a market crash just to agree and communicate with each other. As far as I know, the two biggest companies are now in communication, which is a good thing. They are trying to hold their ground by doing more for the community and the industry. They start to attract more people, and even though it may not be profitable for them, they still do it with the feeling that change is necessary. Crashes won’t be a problem in six months now that it’s teamwork, not solo efforts.
– What is your social media strategy? From what I understand, users can earn tokens by viewing the content in your app. Can you elaborate on exactly how that works?
– People using our platform can recruit their own followers. That helps us invite more people to start using the platform and hopefully get something out of it. It’s the same as going to a website for a service you are interested in.
What we do is create accessibility – the more people we recruit, the better because it increases our capabilities. At the moment, our strategy is to attract and engage people, it’s like tokenization.
20% of users we get through marketing. Others come with overall growth. We show the way, and that’s also how we get new employees – people talk about what we do and some become interested in working for us. We are at a point where this process is not going to stop. The company continues to work, and into matter what, new people come. We all benefit – it’s about giving back and getting something in return.
– Tell us more about your educational program. It is something quite unusual for crypto projects. Can you give some details?
– Instead of feeding people, teach them to get their own food – the old principle really works.
If you want to make a difference in developing countries, you must educate people, even if your efforts seem futile. It creates opportunities to increase the value of what we can give to people. We understand that if we want to promote innovation, we need to uplift the country, which also means education. And we have the means at our disposal, including connections and time. It’s not uncommon, it’s just a smart thing to do, and it helps attract more and more people.
Right now, the market for Web 3.0 and cryptocurrencies is very small, and the growth is very gradual. Let’s say we have 10 million users. We can’t gain a million users a day. No, it takes two years to grow by a million. There are not many potential users at the moment, the hype element is over, unfortunately.
So, we give people the technology, share ideas and lessons, show how we can be useful to them, and also explain the reasons and the values the industry is based on. This is how you create a market that continues to grow worldwide, beyond just Africa – by educating people.
I think the key to life is education. I still go to school because I want to learn about personnel management. We all invested in a company founded based on our ideas because we wanted to do something special. It’s more about creating a future for everyone, including the Third World countries. Now, we feel that people’s values have changed, and our company is the catalyst. It’s not about money for me, I don’t really care. That’s why Web 2.0 was born. When I graduated from high school in 2019 and first joined Web 3.0, I felt like I was still on a Web 2.0 level. And a company like Apple isn’t innovating – Elon Musk with SpaceX is innovating, technology is evolving… We want to be a part of creating the future.
– Where do see the company in three years?
– I hope we will be the absolute leader on the continent. When I look at our business, I see it as a living being that helps out, provides financially, and gives something important to society while also making money. This is where I see myself and the company in three years – continuing healthy growth.
Can we consider a long-term perspective? Sure, but we prefer to focus on the present. In crypto, everything can change in a matter of days. So let’s prioritize people and our own – it has worked out well so far.
I see us growing very quickly at the moment – the rate is around 1000%. That’s not bad at all, and we are still getting significant funding.
– There are many countries in Africa, each has its own regulators. Do you find it difficult to deal with regulators in each state? How do you solve the problems that arise when working across such a large number of different countries?
– We have had no issues yet because we are not a US company. No, we are from Africa, the founders and the people are from here. They turn to us, and we turn to them. We say, “You know, we have a great project, and we want to do something with it.” And we always get help with what we want to do, with education and so on. But we must first give to get something in return.
At such moments, I feel there aren’t too many rules for us right now. Some countries have certain regulations, others really don’t have anything. We try to comply with the laws in countries that impose them. But if something happens, they usually just tell us, “Hey, change it, it’s not allowed.” And we listen to what we are told.
If there are sudden obstacles, we go to politicians, meet with them and see if we can help each other out. So far, we have had few problems, except for some challenges in Egypt, Libya, and Morocco. But Morocco is already a kind of European sphere of influence anyway.
– Do you have competition in Africa?
– No, I do not think so. There are some small startups, but with our finances, we can invest in them or even start acquiring them. When the project gets launched, we look to see if we can integrate it. We have room for a lot more companies than we’re currently working with. So we are looking into them and hope we will get an investment fund in the next few months to actually put money into different projects.
– Let’s turn to the Persian Gulf. My first question is about your assessment of the Gulf’s potential in the crypto industry. The second is: as you know, the Persian Gulf is a region saturated with money that is yet to fully use the possibilities of Web 3.0. Still, Dubai is now the de facto capital of the crypto industry. So, what do you think are your prospects in the Gulf region?
– I see Dubai as a center of innovation, highly respected and with a lot of money involved. Many of the companies that work with us are also based in Dubai. Millions of people relocate there to be closer to the crypto business, so the Gulf authorities create favorable conditions for moving. For example, the finely-tuned and up-to-date rules with a whole system behind them. People see that everything you do is regulated. If companies do something wrong, they are necessarily held accountable or removed. I feel that it will undoubtedly become the world’s cryptocurrency hub.
– Do you have plans to expand your business into the Gulf? Or would you like to have partners or ambassadors in the region?
– We are focused on Africa first. I mean, we’re based here and target local clients. That’s the Jambo policy.
Personally, I would love to do business in the Persian Gulf. I have been there, even lived in the region for a while. There are multiple companies I am involved in. Being there in Dubai, you can meet a lot of people, build partnerships, and do other important things. And many people are moving there, so maybe one day we will have our primary or secondary headquarters in Dubai as well.
But Africa comes first, it’s where we want to establish ourselves. It’s early to talk about mass expansion. Dubai might be our next step. We are also involved in Morocco, and Morocco is close to Europe. It mainly depends on the people. If we see a lot of people start using our platform in Dubai, we will take it into account.
Follow Jambo Technology:
Website – https://jambo.technology/
Telegram – https://t.me/jambotechnology
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JamboTechnology
Discord – https://discord.com/invite/Vs7NCCpTqZ
Medium – https://medium.com/jambo-technology