Afridigest Week in Review: A multitude of mega-rounds
+Fundraises +Fund closes +Digitizing informal retail +Playing startup vs building a company +Mobile money penetration in Francophone Africa +More
The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read weekly recap for Africa-focused founders, executives, and investors, as well as interested observers.
Welcome back, friends! The most clicked link from last week was this overview of the COO role from Openview. As expected, Week 50 was a slow week for deals as the year comes to a close. A few deals should trickle out in Week 51 before the end of the year so expect a Week in Review next week as well. But until then, Merry Christmas, friends 🎅🎄🎁
If you’re new, welcome 🙌 — you’ll receive a weekly digest like this one every Monday and, generally (but not always), an original essay/article on Saturdays. For past essays and digests, visit the archive.
Week 50 2021: December 12-18
📰 Year in Review
MEGA-ROUNDS ACROSS THE CONTINENT
No deal of the week this week as the year comes to a close. In its place, a look back to one of the five key themes that emerged from Africa's startup ecosystem in the first half of the year: the rise of mega-rounds and African unicorns.
The mega-round momentum continued throughout the second half of the year and there’s now a robust list of $100M+ mega-rounds across the continent in 2021:
There’s likely more debt than indicated/publicly disclosed
TymeBank’s Series B was completed in two parts: ~$110M in February and $70M in December)
Jumo’s $400M valuation is unconfirmed by the company and comes from Britain’s The Times
Other rounds that are relevant/adjacent to the ecosystem include:
Zepz’s $292M Series E at a $5B valuation — The British money transfer juggernaut formerly known as WorldRemit was founded by Somali Ismail Ahmed and acquired Africa-focused remittance app Sendwave for $500M earlier in the year. Its first remittance corridor was from the United Kingdom to Somaliland and it now has more than 11M users in 150 countries globally
Zipline’s $250M Series E at a $2.75B valuation — The startup validated its drone-based delivery of blood, vaccines, medications, and other medical supplies first in Rwanda then Ghana, but has since expanded its focus to the United States
Go1’s $200M at a +1B valuation — The corporate e-learning platform launched with South African Rhodes Scholar Melvyn Lubega as a founding executive; some refer to the (clearly) Australian company as South Africa’s first unicorn
Tala’s $145M Series E at a +$800M valuation — The digital lender launched in Kenya but has since expanded to the Philippines, Mexico, and India; it now positions itself as a global emerging markets provider
🔦 Other deals
EDTECH, INFLUENCERS, & SUPER APPS
Edukoya, a Nigerian e-learning exam prep and homework help platform, raised a $3.5M pre-seed led by Target Global — Currently in beta, the platform will go fully live next year; to date, this is the largest pre-seed round raised by a female founder on the continent
Wowzi, a Kenyan influencer platform connecting advertisers to social media personalities, raised $3.2M across two rounds: a $1.2M pre-seed and a $2M seed round; 4DX led the seed round with participation from To.org, Golden Palm Investments, LoftyInc, Afropreneur Angels, Future Africa, and others — Founded in mid-2019, Wowzi has so far carried out over 15,000 campaigns for 200+ brands; it grew ~20x over the last one year
Safeboda, a Ugandan ride-hailing, delivery, and financial services super app platform, announced that it raised an undisclosed amount from Google’s Africa Investment Fund — Safeboda has 1M customers across Uganda and Nigeria and over 25,000 drivers; this is the first investment for Google’s $50M AIF since it was first announced
SweepSouth, a South African on-demand home services platform, acquired Egypt’s FilKhedma for a “few million USD” — FilKhedma has ~2,000 plumbers, carpenters, electricians, & other home services providers on its platform and its shareholders take shares in SweepSouth; With this acquisition, SweepSouth now operates across the continent’s four major tech hubs after its 2020 Kenya expansion and Sep. 2021 Nigeria expansion;
Alitheia IDF (AIF), a women-focused private equity fund, announced the final close at $100M — The fund previously announced a $75M first close in 2019 from investors including the African Development Bank, Bank of Industry Nigeria, FinDev Canada, & Dutch Good Growth Fund, and now the European Investment Bank (EIB) joins as the closing investor with $24.6M. Alitheia IDF was established as a joint venture fund between Nigeria’s Alitheia Capital and South Africa’s IDF Capital. Among its portfolio is Jetstream Africa, a Ghanaian digital cross-border logistics & freight forwarding platform.
4DX Ventures, a pan-African VC firm with offices in New York, Accra, and Cairo, announced the final close of its second fund at $60M — The fund’s investments already include Yoco, Trella, and MaxAB, while 4DX’s overall portfolio also includes mPharma, Sokowatch, Flutterwave, and Andela. 4DX focuses on the pre-seed to Series B stages with ticket sizes ranging from a few hundred thousand to a few million. This close sees it add two new general partners and NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo as a senior advisor. The fund’s LPs were not disclosed.
Ventures Platform, a pan-African VC firm, announced the first close of its $40M fund — The amount of this first close is undisclosed but the LPs include the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), UAC Nigeria, VFD Group, Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel, Paystack CEO Shola Akinlade, and others. The firm historically focused on the pre-seed and seed stages with an average ticket size of $50K, but sees itself also focusing on Series A rounds with this new fund. 30% of its portfolio companies have passed through Y Combinator and the VP portfolio includes Paystack ($200M exit Stripe).
Global Ventures, a UAE-based VC firm focused on startups in the Middle East and Africa, announced that it’s close to raising a target $100M second fund — The fund’s focus is on the pre-seed to Series A stages and 60% of the investors for the fund are from the United States, while others include Saudi Venture Capital Co and Bupa Arabia. The firm’s portfolio includes TeamApt, Helium Health, and MAX in sub-Saharan Africa and Paymob, Kitopi, & more across the MENA region.
Cairo Angels, the first formal Egyptian angel investor network, announced the first close of a target $5M syndicate fund — The amount of this first close is undisclosed, but the fund will invest ticket sizes of $100K - $250K in MEA startups, with a focus on Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. The Cairo Angels portfolio includes Eventtus (acquired by Bevy), Instabug, ElGameya, and more
📚 Reads of the Week
DIGITIZING INFORMAL RETAIL
Journalist Louise Matsakis covers the global race to digitize informal mom-and-pop retail across emerging markets for The Atlantic.
“Over the past few years, dozens of start-ups flush with more than $1 billion from investors have sprung up to turn mom-and-pop stores into digital retailers and mini–tech hubs. In Egypt, merchants can now restock their shelves using an app; in Nigeria, shops now function as pseudo-banks. … In the global South, millions of these beloved stores could one day end up part of a new digital economy that looks distinctly different from that of the West.”
🥇 “Corner stores are the new darlings of the global tech industry” by Louise Matsakis
Pair this with: The Trend Watching section of Week 36’s Week in Review (copied below)
THE HUSTLE REMAINS OFFLINE
A solid, data-driven reminder that building for mass-market Africa today involves building for offline users
“Contrary to what you might have expected, digitization in Africa is a solidly offline affair … More people get connected digitally when the tools…support substantial offline platform activity.”
“How to digitize a continent, or “offline” is still king” by Abraham Augustine
📢 It’s almost Christmas, why not share Afridigest as a gift? 🎁🎄
The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read weekly recap for Africa-interested founders, executives, investors, and observers. Share it with someone who should be reading it. 🙏
📚 Quick Hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE
Playing startup versus building a company — A short and worthwhile read on what matters vs. what doesn’t for company-building. “When most of your focus is on the next round versus optimizing hiring, marketing, and selling, you’re playing startup”
How to navigate the product-market fit journey — Bessemer Venture Partners’ Adam Fisher outlines a new mental framework: the four quadrants of PMF
The 3 Es of brand admiration — Three business school professors on why ‘brand admiration’ matters and how the most admired brands find innovative ways to enable, entice, and enrich customers
How to go from being a super hot company to lucky to get acquired in less than 24 months — A good read from Klout founder Joe Fernandez on what went wrong: “if you raise money at a high valuation and you start losing momentum, your life is about to be extremely not fun. Almost any mistake you make as a founder can be fixed, except that one”
Don’t overdose on VC: lessons from 166 startup IPOs — An analysis of the tech IPOs that happened in the 2010s with interesting findings on company value vs capital raised. “Capital has no insights.”
Looking back at the fintech IPOs of 2021 — An analysis of some of the year’s major fintech IPOs. “As the number of fintechs in the public markets grows, they provide … insights — for founders and VCs alike”
Crypto theses for 2022 (PDF) — A very comprehensive snapshot of the web3/crypto landscape today from crypto startup Messari
🙈 Visual of the week
MOBILE MONEY PENETRATION IN FRANCOPHONE AFRICA
Source: Landy Djimpe / Innogence Consulting (LinkedIn)
🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Peter Kisadha & the Future Africa team write ‘What does the future hold for venture debt in Africa?’ (Future Africa Blog)
BFA Global’s Abby Butkus writes ‘The ins and outs of launching a digital savings product in Kenya: regulatory guidance for fintech startups’ (Next Billion)
Aubrey Hruby writes ‘Africa’s digital infrastructure is the next playing field for great-power competition’ (Atlantic Council)
Citi’s Michel Assaad writes ‘Has the Egyptian startup ecosystem made it?’ (Wamda)
Cecilia Värendh Månsson writes ‘Mobile financial services can increase impacts of microfinance organizations—but the story is more complicated than we think’ (Brookings)
Perseus Mlambo shares the untold story of Union54 with Ronit Ghose & Gaurav Dhar
Bernard Parah discusses bitcoin, lightning payrolls, and African entrepreneurs with Kevin Rooke
Anna Ekeledo, executive director of AfriLabs, on tech hubs in Africa (Quartz)
Inside TeamApt: How an upstart overturned competition to dominate agency banking (Techcabal)
Somalilanders’ remittance businesses thrive worldwide (Financial Times $)
How African startups can build multi-million dollar partnerships and acquisitions (Techcabal)
Who is building the tech infrastructure for African businesses? (Quartz)
Mobile overdraft facility Fuliza outshines Silicon-Valley backed lending apps in Kenya (Techcrunch)
Luno CEO Marcus Swanepoel talks about the company’s high-stakes journey (Daily Maverick)
Nigeria’s startup bill is heading to parliament after winning cabinet approval (Quartz)
🗣️ Community Corner
I see you, friends!
Congrats to Kola Aina, Walter Baddoo, and Peter Orth on the fund closes 💰🥳
And merry Christmas & happy holidays to all 🎅🎄🎁🎅🎄🎁
Thanks for reading 🙌 And thanks in advance for sharing this Week in Review across your social networks.