Africa's top venture rounds in the first half of 2020

Africa has been increasingly attractive as a VC investment destination in recent years and the trend continues through H1 2020

Afridigest provides ideas & analysis for startup founders, operators, and investors across Africa and beyond. 

This post explores findings from a new report on 2019 VC funding in Africa and highlights the top VC rounds of this year so far.

If you’re new, welcome 🙌 — you’ll receive 2 weekly Afridigest emails: an original essay 
(on Saturdays at 7pm Lagos time) and the weekly digest (every Monday at 11:30am Lagos time). For past essays and digests, visit the archive.
As an aside, I’ve been watching the New African Renaissance conference and it’s been fascinating — so if you’re interested & available, definitely don’t miss Day 2 on the 28th.

Review: 2014 - 2019

2019 was a record year for venture capital in Africa. There were 139 VC deals completed across the continent for a total value of $1.4 billion, according to a new report from the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.

Value of VC deals in Africa, by year:

Despite differences in exact figures, this overall growth trend over the last 5-6 years that culminated in a record 2019 aligns with previously published reports. (See, for example, reports from Partech [PDF] and Briter Bridges [PDF]).

This dovetails well with the thoughts shared by Nigerian serial entrepreneur Sim Shagaya during a recent Invest Africa podcast (the Week 25 podcast of the week) on the evolution of Africa’s early-stage funding landscape:

"Now is a great time … a better time than we've ever been in … Funding is now available to a degree that it never was before.

Given various promising macro trends across African markets (e.g., prevalence of affordable mobile devices, fast-growing smartphone & internet penetration rates, rapid urbanization, a gradual rise of the consumer class, and strong working-age population growth), perhaps the increasing level of investor interest in Africa is not surprising.

On a sector-by-sector basis, however, the level of interest varies, and fintech is widely recognized as the darling of Africa-focused investors. AVCA data bears this out as the fintech sector accounted for the largest share of VC deals by volume from 2014 to 2019.

​Share of number and value of VC deals in Africa, by sector, 2014 - 2019

Investor interest has also been quite concentrated in terms of locale. Over half of VC investments between 2014 and 2019 went to just three countries: South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. Egypt is a strong #4 however, having gained strong investor attention in recent years.

Top early-stage investment destinations by VC deal volume, 2014 - 2019

As Africa’s digital revolution proceeds across the continent, opportunities continue to abound for both intrepid investors and entrepreneurs. And despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 this year, investors continue to place bold bets on Africa.

2020’s top venture rounds (H1)

As we approach the end of the first half of the year, here’s a look back to some of the largest fundraising rounds that took place in H1 2020:

  • In February, Jumo, a South African mobile financial services platform raised a $55M venture round ($30-million equity, $25-million debt) from new investors and existing investors Goldman Sachs, Odey Asset Management, and Leapfrog Investments.

    • Founded in 2015 by Andrew Watkins-Ball, Jumo is a digital finance platform that helps partners build savings, lending, and insurance products for customers across emerging markets.

  • In February, Vezeeta, an Egyptian integrated healthcare platform raised a $40M Series D round led by Gulf Capital, with participation from Saudi Technology Ventures, BECO Capital, Silicon Badia, Vostok New Ventures, CE-Ventures, and Endeavour Catalyst.

    • Founded in 2012 by Amir Barsoum, Vezeeta, a ‘ZocDoc for the Middle East & Africa,’ helps patients search, book, and review doctors and medical services.

  • In January, Flutterwave, a Nigerian payments provider raised a $35M Series B round co-led by Greycroft & eVentures, with additional participation from CRE Ventures, FIS, Visa, Green Visor Capital, Endeavor, Fintech Collective, 9 Yards Capital, 4DX Ventures, and YCVC.

    • Founded in 2016 by Olugbenga Agboola and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Flutterwave allows clients to connect to its payments APIs and work with Flutterwave developers to customize payments applications.

  • In January, Skynamo, a South African field sales app and management platform, raised a $30M Series A round from Five Elms Capital.

    • Founded in 2012 by Sam Clarke, Skynamo digitizes paper-based processes, automates administrative tasks, and helps manufacturer, wholesaler, and distributor sales teams with real-time access to customer and product information in the field.

  • In January, Sendy, a Kenyan on-demand logistics platform, raised a $20 million Series B round led by Atlantica Ventures, with participation from Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

  • In May, mPharma, a Ghanaian health-tech startup raised a $17M venture round, led by Novastar Ventures, with participation from the UK's development finance institution, CDC Group, and previous investors.

  • In January, Halan, an Egyptian ride-hailing app, raised a $15M venture round.

    • Founded in 2017 by Mounir Nakhla and Ahmed Mohsen (with Mohamed Aboulnaga joining ten months later as a co-founder), Halan provides on-demand transportation with two-wheelers (motorcycles) and three-wheelers (tuk-tuks) with ambitions to expand to commerce 7 payments.

  • In April, 54Gene, a Nigerian genomics startup, raised a $15M round led by Adjuvant Capital.

    • Founded in 2019 by Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, 54gene is a research, services and development company founded that uses human genetic data from diverse African populations to develop medical solutions.

  • In June, Chipper Cash, a ‘CashApp for Africa’, raised a $13.8 Series A round co-led by Deciens Capital and Raptor Group, with participation from 500 Startups and Liquid 2 Ventures.

    • Founded in 2018 by Ghanaian Majid Moujaled and Ugandan Ham Serunjogi, Chipper Cash offers no-fee, P2P payment services in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda via a smartphone app.

Although investor interest in Africa continues to be high as evidenced by the funding rounds above, given the absence so far of mega-rounds (like the $200M Interswitch round, the $120M OPay round, and the $100M Andela round that took place in 2019), it’s likely that the total value of 2020’s VC deals will fall short of 2019 figures.

Thanks for reading 🙌 If you liked this post, do me a favor and share it on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.


To see more like it, visit the archive. And to contact me, send me a DM on Twitter @eajene. The weekly Digest comes out on Monday. See you then! 👋