Afridigest Week in Review: A new addition to Africa's unicorn list

+A deal deluge +E-mobility +SME Neobanking +Product innovation strategies +Go-to-market fit & product-led growth +A global M-Pesa +News, podcasts, and 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 44 2021

📰 Deal of the Week
UNICORN BIRTHS

Chipper Cash, a pan-African cross-border payments company, raised a $150M Series C extension round led by cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX with participation from SVB Capital, Deciens Capital, Ribbit Capital, Bezos Expeditions, One Way Ventures, and Tribe Capital.

💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: With this round, Chipper Cash now has a formal, disclosed valuation just north of $2B making it the continent’s newest official unicorn, and (arguably) the most valuable Africa-focused startup at this point in time.

⛏️ Go deeper:


🔦 Other deals
A DEAL DELUGE
  • Twiga Foods, a Kenyan B2B e-commerce platform simplifying the supply chain between fresh food producers, FMCG manufacturers, and retailers, raised a $50M Series C led by Creadev with participation from TLcom Capital, IFC Ventures, DOB Equity, Juven, Finnfund Global, and Endeavor Catalyst Fund — Twiga has over 100,000 registered customers and delivers 600+ metric tons of goods to 10,000+ retailers daily; notably, the round included a $30M secondary sale, providing liquidity to early investors. The company is targeting a valuation > $1B within five years

  • Breadfast, an Egyptian online grocery & on-demand delivery platform utilizing the dark store/quick commerce model, raised a $26M Series A co-led by Vostok New Ventures and Endure Capital, with participation from JAM Fund, YC Continuity Fund, Shorooq Partners, 4DX Ventures, Flexport, and an unnamed Saudi Arabian fund — Breadfast offers over 2,500 SKUs to ~170,000 Egyptian households, with an apparent 65% m-o-m customer retention rate and 4x revenue growth from 2019 to 2020

  • PayHippo, a Nigerian SME financing platform, raised a $3M seed round from various angel investors, including Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, Chipper Cash co-founders; Flutterwave co-founder, Olugbenga Agboola; Bolaji Balogun, CEO of investment bank Chapel Hill Denham; and Hakeem Belo-Osagie, the founder of Metis Capital Partners — PayHippo has disbursed ~5,000 loans worth ~$1M since its 2019 launch, with a repayment rate of 97%; it’s currently growing 25% m-o-m

  • ShipBlu, an Egyptian provider of logistics infrastructure for e-commerce companies, raised a $2.4M seed round led by Nama Ventures with participation from 1984 Ventures, Orange Ventures, Starling Ventures, and others — The company, which fully launched just this August, participated in Y Combinator’s S21 batch

  • Appetito, an Egyptian dark store grocery delivery platform, raised a $2M pre-Series A led by Jedar Capital, with participation from Golden Palm investments, DFS Lab, and others — The company has grown revenue 6x since April and currently operates 7 dark stores across Cairo, with plans to expand to 150 stores by 2024

  • Bypa-ss, an Egyptian healthtech operating a leading digital health information exchange & clinic management platform, raised a $1M pre-seed from Magic Fund, Acuity Ventures, Launch Africa, Plug and Play, and others — The company operates in 6 cities across Egypt with a network of more than 3,000 healthcare providers and has grown its customer base 1.5x since the start of the year

  • Semicolon Africa, a Nigerian talent platform that trains individuals to become software engineers, raised a $1.2M seed round from Launch Africa, Consonance Investment Managers, and others

  • Shamba Pride, a Kenyan online-to-offline marketplace platform for farmers, raised ~$1.1M led by Seedstars Africa Ventures and Gray Matters Capital — The funding will support the company’s national expansion, empowering hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers to boost their income and productivity

  • Untapped Global, a provider of smart asset financing for emerging markets in Africa and elsewhere, raised a $1.05M equity round from a variety of accredited investors — The company has achieved $1M in annual recurring revenue and is experiencing 40% month-to-month growth; it’s also targeting an additional $1M via crowdfunding

  • Lemonade Finance, a Nigerian cross-border payments startup, raised a $725k pre-seed round from Y Combinator, Microtraction, Ventures Platform, Acuity Venture Partners, Zrosk, and others — Founded in 2020, the company participated in Y Combinator’s S21 batch and has processed over $1M in transactions

  • Kasookoo Communications, an omnichannel contact center as a service platform for African markets, raised a $500K seed round led by the South Southeast Angels Network and Launch Africa Ventures

  • Sympl, an Egyptian buy-now-pay-later checkout platform, raised an undisclosed amount from A15 — Founded just last month, Sympl is apparently led by a highly credible team and is targeting an initial market of over 40M bankcard holders

  • FinMeUp, a South African financial education startup, raised an undisclosed seed round from ZAQ Ventures — The startup has ~7,000 active users on its (pilot) platform within one year of launch and a ‘co-creating community’ of ~18,000 members

  • InstantRad, a Ghanian on-demand teleradiology platform, raised an undisclosed amount from Microtraction & others

  • Errand360, a Nigerian bicycle-based delivery platform, raised an undisclosed pre-seed round from Tekedia Capital

E-MOBILITY
  • Ampersand, a Rwandan builder of electric motorcycles and charging systems, secured a $9M loan facility from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) — The startup raised ~$4M in equity from the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) and TotalEnergies earlier this year

  • Opibus, a Swedish-Kenyan producer of electric vehicles, raised a $7.5M pre-series A including $5M in equity (led by At One Ventures, with participation from Factor[e] Ventures and Ambo Ventures) and $2.5M in grants — the round is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest-ever electric mobility fundraise, according to Opibus

  • BasiGo, a Kenyan electric vehicle startup focused on public transportation buses, raised a $1M pre-seed from Climate Capital, Third Derivative, and others — The startup plans to sell locally assembled electric buses using parts from a Chinese EV manufacturer

ACQUISITIONS
  • E-Settlement, a Nigerian mPoS & agent banking platform, agreed to acquire QuickCash, an Ivorian electronic payment and money transfer focused on Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo, for an undisclosed amount — The deal expands E-Settlement’s footprint across the continent and will grow the group’s agent banking network to 200,000 agents by the end of 2022; QuickCash will continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary

  • Net1 UEPS Technologies, a publicly-traded South African fintech company listed on the NASDAQ and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, agreed to acquire Connect Group, a South African fintech company, for ~$242M — The deal gives Net1 which focuses on the formal sector, access to 35,000+ informal MSMEs


📚 Read of the Week
SMALL BUSINESS BANKING

An exploration of Africa’s SME space that looks at SME characteristics across the continent, their banking needs, the value of building out SME-focused banking capabilities, and what it will take to win in this space.

“Whereas the 20th century was the century for corporations, … the 21st century will be the century of smaller businesses and solo businesses. … Stepping into the fray are new Fintechs that are building around this global trend.”

🥇 “SME Neobanking in Africa” by Samora Kariuki


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📚 Quick Hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE

🕵️‍♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
ESSAYS
  • Suren Ayriyan, Managing Partner & CEO of Tempo Payments writes ‘What we can learn from Sub-Saharan African FinTech infrastructure’ (Tech Financials)

  • Angel investor Aadil Mamujee writes ‘A Global M-Pesa’ (Aadil.blog)

  • Amadou Daffe, Gebeya CEO & Co-Founder, writes ‘Winning talent wars in Africa’ (Linkedin article)

PODCASTS
  • Stéphan Eloise-Gras, Executive Director of Digital Africa, discusses the potential of Francophone tech and France’s €130M plan to support African startups on the African Business podcast

  • Martin Nielsen, Mdundo CEO & Co-Founder, joins the Chini ya Maji podcast

  • The Afrobility podcast discusses how Safeboda is delivering mobility services across Africa

VIDEO
  • Juliet Anammah, Chairwoman of Jumia Nigeria; Wiza Jalakasi, VP, Global Developer Relations at Chipper Cash; Nkebet Mesele, Senior Director at Visa Sub-Saharan Africa; and Khadijah Abu, Head of Product Expansion at Paystack discuss the future of commerce in emerging markets

OTHER ARTICLES

🗣️ Community Corner

I see you, friends!

  • Congrats to Angela Homsi on the launch of the Rwanda Innovation Fund 🥳

  • Congrats to Yele Bademosi on the public launch of Nestcoin platform and congrats also to David Adeleke, who now leads Nestcoin’s media arm, Breach 🥂

  • Congrats to Tayo Oviosu and the Paga team on the launch of the Doroki platform 🎉

  • 📢 Sohaila Ouffata & the African Tech Vision team are looking to support early-stage female entrepreneurs via a 10-week equity-free virtual program — apply here and spread the word


LA FIN

Feedback, questions, notes for the community corner? Or just want to say hi? Message me on Whatsapp or Twitter (@eajene) or email me.

Thanks for reading 🙌 And thanks in advance for sharing this Week in Review across your social networks.