Afridigest Week in Review: A dragon appears, a new unicorn is near

+The rise of African insurtech +SPACs in Africa +Mega mobile money +Hype isn't always helpful +Speedy fundraises +The international expansion playbook +BNPL +Fintechs at Scale +More

The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read weekly recap for Africa-focused founders, executives, and investors, as well as interested observers.

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Week 30 2021

📰 Deal of the week

Yoco, the leading mobile points of sale (mPOS) company in South Africa, raised an $83M Series C led by Dragoneer Investment Group.

Also participating were, among others, Breyer Capital, HOF Capital, The Raba Partnership, 4DX Ventures, and TO Ventures; as well as existing investors Partech, Velocity Capital Fintech Ventures, Orange Ventures, and Quona Capital.

Founded in 2013 by Katlego Maphai, Bradley Wattrus, Carl Wazen, and Lungisa Matshoba, Yoco offers a point of sale card reader & proprietary software that allows merchants to accept card payments; its least expensive reader sells for ~$27 and merchants pay fees of 2.6% — 2.95% per transaction. Yoco serves over 150,000 SMEs across South Africa, and processes over $1B in card payments annually.

💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: Series C rounds don’t happen every day on the continent. Rumored to be underway since at least the end of May, this round is the largest ever raised by a South African payments company, and the third-largest Series C for any African fintech, behind unicorns 🦄 Flutterwave and Chipper Cash. Dragoneer’s 🐉 involvement is also significant — see below.

⛏️ Go deeper:

  • Use of funds: Traditionally focused on moving merchants away from cash to card acceptance, Yoco will use the investment to broaden its product capabilities to offer a “full financial ecosystem,” while deepening its presence in South Africa and expanding internationally — it plans to serve over 1M merchants within the next four years.

  • A harbinger of what’s to come: This is the first investment in Africa for Dragoneer Investment Group, the San-Francisco-based, growth-oriented investor; its previous fintech investments include Square, Chime, Nubank, Mercado Libre, and Klarna. Other investments include Alibaba, Atlassian, Datadog, Slack, Spotify, and Uber.

    This is arguably a huge vote of confidence in the African ecosystem and is yet another signal that smart money increasingly regards early-stage opportunities on the continent as among the most attractive globally.

  • Hear the Yoco story firsthand:

🔦 Other deals

📚 Reads of the Week

I’m an admirer of Benchmark’s Sarah Tavel. Here she takes a look at how hype affects B2C companies.

Hype creates the aura that something is bigger, more important, and more inevitable than it actually is. In this way, it acts like a subsidy on engagement in a consumer social network...but with an important difference: unlike economic subsidies, the hype subsidy is not in your control.

🥇 “The Hype Subsidy – Why Early Hype is Dangerous in Consumer Social” by Sarah Tavel



Footwork Capital’s NBT breaks down the current fundraising landscape.

In my eleven years in venture capital, I've never experienced a market that's moving as quickly as it is at present. And in conversations with fellow investors, it seems we all feel the same way. Founders are going out to raise a new round, and within weeks, if not days, have multiple term sheets. So what's driving this speed? There are of course benefits to founders and investors for rounds to move faster. But what are the costs?

How fast is too fast?” by Nikhil Basu Trivedi


Greenhouse, an Asia-focused market entry provider, wrote this thoughtful market expansion playbook that includes key considerations, pitfalls, and case studies.

Many Southeast Asian startups expand across the region in an attempt to push their valuation. Valuations are a combination of many variables, and the number of markets where you have a presence is secondary to your traction, product, and unit economics. Adding another country would result in trade-offs. It's hard getting product-market-fit; it's harder when you have another market you need to manage. ”

Go-to-Market Strategies: The Ultimate Playbook for Startup Expansion to International Markets” by the Greenhouse team

Pair this with: Venture scale startups targeting Africa should start with a multi-country mindset

🔮 Trend Watching

This week South Africa’s Pineapple raised ~$5.5M and last week South Africa’s Ctrl raised ~$2.3M; earlier this month, Egypt’s Amenli was selected into Y Combinator’s S21 batch. And earlier this year, Kenya’s AiCare, Mali’s OKO, Nigeria’s Curacel, Botswana’s AlphaDirect, Kenya’s Pula, and others attracted venture funding.

Insurtech is starting to heat up across the continent...

It’s worth noting that McKinsey wrote last year: “levels of insurance penetration in Africa are half the world average measured as a percentage of GDP, and premiums per capita are 11-fold lower than the world average. This points to significant scope for growth.

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📚 Quick Hits
  • The Fintech Revolution — a great industry analysis report from Jackie Reses, Head of Square’s lending unit, and Michael Gilroy, GP at Coatue

  • Buy Now Pay Later — a timely report on the BNPL sector from FT Partners

  • Afterpay — a throwback investment case study from Hayden Capital (PDF)

💼 Job Opportunities of the Week

The IFC's venture capital arm, the Disruptive Technologies and Funds Group, is hiring a Lagos-based Associate Investment Officer, Venture Capital.


FINCA Ventures, an early-stage impact investing fund, is hiring a Lagos-based Investment Director.

To submit a job opportunity to be featured here, email:

🙈 Visual of the week

According to the Wheeler Institute at London Business School, only 37 fintech companies operating in Africa have reached scale — Africa Fintech: Scale Prevalence

Note that, according to the authors, ‘scaled’ here means at least 2 of the following 4 are true: the company has over 200 employees; has raised $15M or more total funding; generates $20M or more annual revenue; and/or has either +75k B2B customers or 1M users.

🕵️‍♀️ In case you missed it
  • Ifunanya Ezeani, Director of Global Clients at OPay, and Adedeji Olowe, CEO at Trium Networks, provide an overview of the fintech regulatory landscape in Nigeria in ‘Is regulatory license repurposing the engine of the fintech revolution in Nigeria?
    “The power of tech for finance is evolving so fast that there now exists a significant gap between what’s possible (fintech) and what’s permissible (licensing). This has led to the war between regulation and innovation. Who’s going to win?”


🗣️ A final word

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