Afridigest Week in Review: Agency banking in Africa — the opportunity is offline
+Offline distribution +African neobanks +Remittance heats up +Scale.ai deep-dive +Seed-to-Series-A-strategy +Mpesa's evolution +WhatsApp in Zimbabwe + 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! Q3 starts with a bang — what a week for deal announcements.
If you’re new, welcome 🙌 — you’ll (generally) receive 2 weekly Afridigest emails: the weekly digest (every Monday afternoon Lagos time) and either an original essay or the new Thought Circle format (generally on Saturdays at roughly 7pm-ish Lagos time). For past essays and digests, visit the archive.
Week 26 2021
📰 Deal of the week
THE HUSTLE IS OFFLINE
TeamApt, a Nigerian fintech provider, raised an undisclosed Series B round. Novastar Ventures led the round with participation from Global Ventures, FMO, CDC, Kepple Africa Ventures, Soma Capital, and Oui Capital.
The round is purported to be “way higher than $20 million but less than $100 million” according to local sources.
Founded in 2015 as a bootstrapped B2B provider of financial solutions for banks, TeamApt has kept a relatively low profile despite raising a $5.5M Series A round in 2019. Soon after the raise, it branched out to offer merchant- and consumer-facing products like Moniepoint, an agency banking platform, which TeamApt claims is composed of over 100,000 agents and accounts for 74% of Nigeria’s agent banking monthly transaction volume. Noor Sweid, Founder and General Partner of Global Ventures, adds that TeamApt has built “one of the largest agent networks in Nigeria in a relatively short span of time.”
💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: Offline distribution network models like Egypt’s Brimore, Kenya’s Copia Global, Nigeria’s CrowdForce, and others remain fascinating, and it’s worth watching how TeamApt plans to leverage this large agency banking asset in the future. Another reason for the deal of the week consideration: TeamApt said the company as a whole, not just Moniepoint, processed $17.5 billion over the past 12 months. 👀
⛏️ Go deeper:
“A lot of startups should not get carried away in the money-raising hype and they should focus a lot more on building their product. Money find will you if you have a solid product that people need. I promise you… What is fundamental is that you have a solution to a problem and that solution, you need to build it in a way that it can scale.” — Tosin Eniolorunda, CEO and Founder, TeamApt
Hear more from Tosin Eniolorunda about bootstrapping, growing efficiently, and solving real problems in this video filmed just after TeamApt’s 2019 Series A:
🔦 Other deals
BUSY END TO Q2, BUSY START TO Q3
FairMoney, a Nigerian lending startup turned neobank, raised a $42 Series B round led by Tiger Global, with DST partners, Flourish Ventures, Newfund, and Speedinvest also participating. This could have easily been the deal of the week but the hustle is offline — in any case, your humble author should probably take a look into digital banks across the continent soon.
ZeePay, a Ghanaian fintech startup focused on remittances, raised a $7.9M Series A round. The round was comprised of $4.6M in equity led by led by I&P, with ARK Holdings (the privately-held family investment portfolio of Zeepay managing director Andrew Takyi-Appiah) and Goodsoil VC participating, and $3.3M in debt financing from Absa Bank Ghana and First National Bank Ghana.
Minly, an Egyptian celebrity shoutouts app, raised a $3.6 million seed round, co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, and Global Ventures. Other players in the celebrity shoutout category in SSA include Iroko Shoutouts and Peng.
Jetstream, a Ghanaian tech-enabled cross-border logistics platform, raised a $3 million seed round. Investors include Alitheia IDF, Golden Palm Investments, 4DX Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Asia Pacific Land, Breyer Labs, and MSA Capital.
MDaaS, a Nigerian health-tech startup, raised a $2.3 million seed extension round. Newtown Partners led the round, with participation from CRI Foundation, FINCA Ventures, Techstars, and Future Africa, among others. The company raised a $1M seed round in June 2019.
PayHippo, a Nigerian SME financing platform, raised a $1M pre-seed round led by Ventures Platform, Future Africa, and Launch Africa. Also participating were Sherpa Ventures, Hustle Fund, and Mercy Corps Ventures.
Terragon, a Nigerian marketing technology company, raised an undisclosed growth round from VestedWorld.
Yalla Xash, a Moroccan remittance-focused fintech, raised ~$675,000 from MITC Capital via Maroc Numeric Fund II.
Brown and Ayo, a South African online marketplace for hair products, raised ~$280,000 from Enygma Ventures.
Zipline, a California-based drone delivery startup, raised a $250M Series E round at a valuation of $2.75B. Another candidate for deal of the week — we’ve previously referred to Zipline alongside PayGo Energy and others as ‘Africa-to-the-world’ or so-called ‘reverse innovation’ companies where tech first developed or deployed in Africa is then exported globally.
TapTap Send, an NYC-based fintech startup focused on remittances to Africa and Asia, raised a $13.4M venture round.
Monisnap, a Paris-based fintech providing remittance services to West Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, raised a ~$12M venture round, led by Serena Capital
📚 Read of the Week
THE FIVE-YEAR-OLD $7.3B COMPANY
Packy McCormick explores artificial intelligence startup, Scale, through the lens of Paystack acquirer, Stripe. (South African startup, Enlabeler, is relevant here.)
“If there is a Stripe for AI/ML, it would look like Scale…For both Stripe and Scale, companies that slowly built up a head of steam before outbursts in productivity, it’s all about slope over intercept. Start slowly with a commodity product, get it right, hit an inflection point, and shoot up as fast as you can to leverage your strategic place in the value chain before anyone else can match you from their seemingly differentiated starting point.”
🥇 “Scale: Rational in the Fullness of Time” by Packy McCormick
EARNED SECRETS & UNIQUE INSIGHTS
Annelies Gambles writes a quick quide to a Series A for seed-stage companies.
“The goal of the Seed phase is to begin showing signs of Product-Market Fit (PMF)… Although you certainly want to be growing during the Seed phase, it’s not all about top-line growth. It’s just as important to begin showing you have PMF and establishing a scalable sales process. Series A investors will want to understand whether the progress a company sees at the Seed phase is repeatable long-term.”
🥇 “Series A Metrics” by Annelies Gamble
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🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
South African seed-stage VC firm, Digital Africa Ventures, announced it raised ~$1.75M
South African VC firm, Kalon Venture Partners, announced it raised ~$17.5M
Seedstars Africa Ventures announced an undisclosed commitment from French private equity firm LBO France
Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, Executive Director of African Economic Research Consortium and former Governor of Central Bank of Kenya, writes on the ‘Evolution of M-Pesa from a person-to-person platform to a sophisticated fintech’
Entrepreneur and investor, Eric Osiakwan asks ‘Are Mobile Operators the next Fintech Startups?’
Journalists Ray Mwareya and Audrey Simago explore ‘How a 27-year-old Zimbabwean teacher created a top tutoring academy on WhatsApp’
Journalist Carlos Mureithi asserts ‘African fintech startups are diversifying to scale up’
Obinna Ukwuani, Chief Digital Officer for the Bank of Kigali; Yves Eonnet, Founder and CEO of TagPay; Djiba Diallo, Senior Fintech Advisor at Ecobank; and African Banker Magazine’s Omar Ben Yedder, discuss how digital-only lenders are disrupting the brick-and-mortar banking industry and how it must adapt to a new digital landscape:
🗣️ A final word
WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT
I really appreciated the various notes & gestures welcoming Afridigest back. 🤗 Thanks again! Sometimes it does feel like we have quite the community here and I’m glad to be a part of it.