Chinese Phone Maker Transsion Partners with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to Fund Early-Stage African Startups


Chinese mobile phone and device maker Transsion is partnering with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to source and fund early-stage African fintech startups.

Wapi Capital is the venture fund of Nairobi based fintech startup Wapi Pay, a tech company that simplifies digital payments between Africa and Asia using bank accounts or mobile money.

According to 2018 study by Crunchbase, Wapi Capital is listed among the growing venture funds in Africa.

Transsion is a top-seller of smartphones in Africa, holding about 54% of the feature phone market in the continent — through its brands Tecno, Infinix and Itel.

The source of the investments for the new partnership will come from Transsion’s Future Hub, an incubator and seed fund for African startups launched by the Chinese company in 2019.

Startups from Every African Country Stand a Chance

Laura Li, a Senior Investor at Transsion Future Hub in a mail to TechCrunch revealed details of the partnership. Li disclosed that from September, Transsion and Wapi Capital will start selecting African fintech startups for equity-based investment.

Starting September 2019, Transsion will work with Wapi Capital to select early-stage African fintech companies for equity-based investments of up to $100,000.

Laura Li, Senior Investor Transsion Future Hub

Wapi Capital will not contribute financially to Transsion’s Africa investments. This was emphasised by Wapi Pay co-founder, Eddie Ndichu.

Wapi Capital won’t contribute funds to Transsion’s Africa investments, but will help determine the viability and scale of the startups, including due diligence and deal flow.

Eddie Ndichu, Co-founder of Wapi Pay.

Wapi Pay and Transsion Future Hub planned equity-based investment will consider ventures from all 54 African countries.

Transsion’s African Interests

Transsion’s partnership with Wapi Capital is not their only Venture Capital focus in Africa. According to Li, the Transsion Future Hub will also make startup investments on the continent in e-commerce, adtech, logistics, fintech, and media and entertainment.

However, the exact amount of fund Transsion Future Hub intends to invest in Africa has not been disclosed.

Transsion Future Hub’s existing investment includes Phoenix, an Africa focused browser company; Scoop, a content aggregator; and Boomplay.

Transsion’s commitment to African start-up investments comes at a time when the company confirmed its imminent IPO listing on China’s new Nasdaq-style Star Market tech exchange.

The partnership between Transsion and Wapi Capital is the second major venture investment from China following Opera’s OPay venture funding.

Transsion sold 124 million phones globally in 2018  Credit: Oath Inc.

The move by Transsion reflects greater Chinese influence in Africa’s Digital market as more venture would be expected. African start-ups with urgent need of venture funding now have a fresh opportunity to make their company thrive financially.

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