One of the buzzing stories that rocked the technology industry lately is the acquisition of over $4 billion in investment capital by entrepreneurs of African startups in 2021.
This investment funding, gathered from an accumulation of various seed rounds, is among the largest ever capital polls raised by African entrepreneurs, making it a tremendous success for the local startup ecosystem.
While it has been a bumpy ride for African startups, with foreign venture capital (VC) preferring to invest in extractive sectors such as mining or infrastructure projects; the massive funding documented in the news illustrates that the African technology ecosystem is progressively piquing the interest of both domestic and international investors.
It is remarkable to note here that the development rides on the success recorded in the previous year. And, at this rate, it leaves us to imagine the possibilities of hitting new high(s) as the year progresses.
With just a month into the new year, startups in the ecosystem have pulled up to $405.5 million, going on to solidify Africa’s position as an emerging market filled with possibilities.
As posed by a report, African startups raised $1 million every 2 hours in 2021. From Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Rwanda to Kenya, the trend persisted even in the first month of the year.
The startups raising this money are, as usual, spread across the continent, and this is a clear indication that another fantastic year of investment for African businesses is on the way.
Meet 16 of the startups that made a buzz through news headlines after closing a sizeable fund in January 2022.
AI firm, InstaDeep, which is a Tunisian and British enterprise, developing decision-making algorithms for real-world challenges, secured $100 million in Series B funding backed by Alpha Intelligence Capital and CDIB.
The startup is expected to use the funds to expand its high-performance computer infrastructure designed for decision-making AI, employ top talent, and create breakthrough AI solutions in a variety of industries, including biotech, logistics, transportation, and electronics manufacturing.
The AI firm plans to expand its worldwide footprint into the United States.
ThankUCash officially closed a deal at $5.3 million after announcing an unknown seven-figure seed in 2021.
The startup helps merchants process incentives, which can help them retain customers and improve revenue. Through the startup’s app, customers may earn rewards by shopping at any of the thousands of merchants featured on the multi-merchant rewards network.
The new funding will be used to grow within Nigeria, where the firm has offices in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja, as well as in Ghana and Kenya. It also intends to expand its product line and hire additional people.
Poa Internet Service, a Kenyan firm that provides low-income Nairobi residents with limitless WiFi internet access, raised $28 million in a Series C investment.
According to Poa, it is not in rivalry with any of the large competitors because it caters to a segment that is regarded as underserved.
Access to and the cost of the internet is a concern all throughout Africa. Poa intends to utilize the additional funds to expand its reach, starting with Kenya and then expanding to other African countries.
Ivory Coast-based company, ANKA, formerly known as Afrikea, in January, secured $6.2 million in a pre-Series A investment. The “new” name was inherited from its SaaS platform created for sellers last year in collaboration with DHL and Visa.
The company’s overall capital now stands at $8.1 million, thanks to this $6.2 million pre-Series A investment.
The additional funds will be used to expand ANKA’s e-commerce SaaS mobile infrastructure and invest in future product development, including expanding the company’s scale of operations across new verticals.
Jabu, a Namibian B2B e-commerce company, announced that it has secured $3.2 million in fundraising rounds.
JABU joins a growing number of African firms that assist small businesses by purchasing and storing their products while also providing data-driven services to suppliers and manufacturers.
The majority of JABU’s revenue comes from self-distribution or third-party fleets. Merchandising, as well as targeted marketing and advertising, helps the firm make money. In the future, it will receive fees from transactions made through merchant wallets.
uLesson, a Nigerian edtech company that offers digital curriculum to kids through SD cards, received $7.5 million in a Series A investment.
The funding comes two years after uLesson raised $3.1 million in a seed round in November of 2019.
The firm intends to give assistance to students by allowing them to obtain quick help from a college student sitting anywhere on the continent who is practically a master at what they’re studying, all with the click of a button.
Finclusion Group, an African fintech platform, raised $20 million in a fundraising round led by Lendable, a prominent fintech debt financing provider.
As a result of this agreement, Finclusion will be able to expand its presence in East and South African markets, resulting in a long-term effect and increasing financial inclusion in hitherto underserved groups.
Finclusion has a number of products that address Africa’s neglected markets by delivering solutions that make financial services more accessible while also boosting financial literacy and wellbeing.
SeamlessHR, an HR and payroll technology start-up located in Lagos, has concluded a $10 million VC-led round of investment to help it reach the next stage of its development.
SeamlessHR assists medium-to-large enterprises in automating and optimizing their whole HR process, from recruiting to retirement, on a single interconnected platform at a cost that is reasonable for African businesses.
The new amount of money will be used to improve the company’s product range and accelerate its pan-African expansion.
Float, a Ghanaian fintech firm that provides credit lines to businesses, secured $17 million in capital to expand its capabilities and geographically.
The seed round, consisting of $7 million in equity and $10 million in debt, will be used to establish organizations in Kenya and South Africa during the second quarter of this year, as soon as the company acquires its operating licenses.
The funding will also be used to expand the company’s cash management platform and offer new credit solutions targeted at certain business verticals and sectors.
PAPS, a logistics and delivery firm located in Senegal, has secured $4.5 million in a pre-Series A investment to grow its tech-enabled logistics solutions throughout the Francophone area.
Small and big organizations may use the platform to help them with their logistical needs, which range from storage to international transportation to last-mile delivery.
This pre-Series A financing will be used to grow the company’s IT staff, expand its physical infrastructure to onboard more warehouses, hubs, and fleets, and expand its services to more African businesses.
Copia Global announced the completion of a $50 million Series C financing investment sponsored by Goodwell Investments.
Copia’s e-commerce approach is tailored to the specific needs of the African market, saving time and money for many Africans.
Copia is the first and only B2C e-commerce platform with a distribution solution dedicated to serving Africa’s 750 million middle and low-income consumers.
Copia plans to utilize the funds to expand its successful model across East Africa and into other African nations, reaching millions of neglected people.
Through collaborations with well-known commercial banks, OZÉ, a Ghana-based fintech company, raised $3 million in a pre-series A round of funding to extend the platform’s capabilities and boost access to affordable credit in Ghana and Nigeria.
After earning $565k in pre-seed and $700k in seed rounds, the business now has $4.27 million in total capital.
Through its collaborations with well-known commercial banks, OZÉ intends to enhance the capabilities of its platform and provide access to cheap credit in Ghana and Nigeria with the new raiser.
Orda, a Nigerian food-tech firm, raised $1 million in funding to help it build its business and extend its operations.
With the fresh capital, the business plans to grow its financial solutions, particularly in loans, as well as delve into restaurant payment processing and extend to South Africa by the end of the year.
Orda provides a dashboard to restaurants that use its platform, allowing them to accept and handle orders from meal delivery services.
Lipa Later, a Kenyan consumer credit network, secured $12 million in pre-series A funding to expand into additional African countries.
Consumers may sign up and receive a credit limit nearly instantaneously thanks to Lipa Later’s own credit rating and machine learning engine.
In 2020, Lipa received an undisclosed investment from Tokyo-based Uncovered Fund, which invests in early- and seed-stage African businesses.
Esusu, a fintech that provides rent reporting and data solutions for credit development to immigrants and minorities, closed $130 million in a Series B funding round.
The business is expected to use the funds to expand its workforce and drive development via product innovation, all while developing the most complete financial health platform available.
In a fresh financing round, NALA, a Tanzanian cross-border payments startup that just switched from local to international money transfers, banked $10 million.
Despite digital lenders competing for less than 20% of the foreign money market, which is controlled by traditional offline companies, the remittance business opportunity is attractive.
Thanks to the financing, NALA will be able to recruit additional people and support expansion initiatives in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe, as well as establish payment rails in Africa and expand into new countries.
The ‘man’s world’ trend continues
Reports from last year’s funding rounds indicate that fewer than 7% of investment went to female CEOs in 2021, and less than 1% to single female founders and female-only founding teams.
This trajectory seems to continue as Africa’s funding rounds gathered from the first month of the year favoured male founders over their female counterparts.
So far, none of the funding rounds from January considered investing in startups headed by female entrepreneurs.
Although conclusions may be premature, these statistics predict the possibility of a similar occurrence from 2021, when male CEOs will receive 93 percent of the investment.
While the stats are poor across the board, it is nevertheless a direct result of the gender profile of the founding teams.
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