Afridigest Week in Review: Funding for pharmaceuticals
+Deals in Namibia and Benin +DeFi lending in emerging markets +A look at country risk across the continent +Startup founder’s compensation guide +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! Welcome to Week 1’s digest. The most clicked link from last week was 'How offline agent networks are driving Africa's digital development'.
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 1 2022: January 2-8
📰 Deal of the Week
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA’S LARGEST PHARMACY NETWORK
mPharma, a Ghanaian tech-driven healthcare & community pharmacy platform, raised a $35M Series D round ($30M equity/$5M debt) from JAM Fund, Unbound, Lux Capital, Northstar, Social Capital, Novastar, and TO Ventures, with Citibank providing the debt financing.
💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: mPharma is among the most impressive high-growth companies at the intersection of social and commercial impact in Africa, and one of the most notable healthtechs on the continent. The company now has over 200 pharmacies & health shops under its mutti umbrella, and in 2021 mutti pharmacies served over 1.2M patients while the company shipped over 3.8M units of drugs. This round brings the total amount raised by mPharma to over $80M, according to Crunchbase.
⛏️ Go deeper:
Pan-African: mPharma operates in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Gabon, and Ethiopia
Use of funds:
“We will mostly focus on growth in West and East Africa. The funds will go towards hiring engineers and operational teams across markets. We will also look to make one or two acquisitions to strengthen our presence on the continent.” — Gregory Rockson, as told to Bloomberg
“The new funding, mPharma co-founder and CEO Gregory Rockson told TechCrunch, will be used to build the startup’s data infrastructure, triple its talent pool over the next three years, and support expansion plans in its current and new markets. It is also rolling out an e-commerce platform for pharmaceuticals.” — Techcrunch reporter, Annie Njanja
An aural deep-dive: This Sep 2021 Afrobility podcast covered how mPharma provides services to pharmacies & patients across Africa
Twitter fingers: Follow mPharma CEO/Co-Founder Greg Rockson on Twitter and read about how this Series D round came together in the thread below:I am grateful for the opportunity to double down on building an Africa in . I want to share a bit about how this round came together. I sent this tweet in September about a dream I have.
TechCrunch @TechCrunchmPharma raises $35million in round participated by Tinder co-founder’s JAM fund, Bharti executive https://t.co/KO7UisWbjI by @annienjanja
🔦 Other deals
NAMIBIA LEADS THE PACK
Jabu, a Namibian B2B e-commerce platform, announced that raised a $3.2M seed round in 2021 from Afore Capital, Y Combinator, FJ Labs, Quiet Capital, Kli Capital, Pareto Capital, and others — The startup, part of Y Combinator’s summer 2021 batch, connects over 6,000 retailers to local and multinational suppliers and serves them with its own fleet of vehicles and eight distribution centers
BFREE, a Nigerian credit management/recovery platform, raised a $1.7M pre Series A from 4Di Capital, Octerra Capital, VestedWorld, Voltron Capital, Logos Ventures, and others — This comes after the startup’s $800K May seed round; BFREE has so far serviced 1.1M defaulters to date, and currently handles ~800K customers
Gahez, an Egyptian apparel-focused B2B platform connecting retailers with manufacturers, raised a $2M pre-seed led by Disruptech Ventures with participation from Egypt Ventures, Tanmeyah (an EFG Hermes company), LoftyInc’s Afropreneur Fund, and others — Founded in late 2021, Gahez has since on-boarded over 15,000 retailers and 142 manufacturers, and has over 4,000 SKUs on its platform; its focus is on brick-and-mortar stores, online sellers, and street vendors
Alvin Technologies, a Kenyan gamified finance, automated budgeting, & money management app, announced that it raised a $740K pre-seed round at the end of 2021 led by Ingressive Capital with participation from Tahseen Consulting, Zephyr Acorn, Voltron Capital, Future Africa, Paystack Co-Founder/CEO Shola Akinlade, and others — The Alvin app is currently in private beta and will launch publicly to Kenyan users in the coming months, after which the startup will expand to Nigeria
Isizwe, a South African ISP targeting low-income communities, raised $460K from the Global Innovation Fund — Isizwe users pay ~$0.33 for 24 hours of uncapped internet access compared to the average cost in South Africa of ~$6.63 per gigabyte.
OBM Education, an Egyptian career guidance platform, Super Fny, an Egyptian online training platform, and Crafty Workshop, an Egyptian learning platform for artisans and craftspeople, raised undisclosed amounts from EdVentures and the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology
Fedapay, a Beninese payment aggregator, raised an undisclosed amount from the Benin Business Angel Network (BBAN) — Founded in 2018, the startup currently operates in Benin and Niger, having recently entered the Nigerien market
Mustard Insights, a Nigerian data visualization startup, raised an undisclosed pre-seed led by Velocity Digital [Note: transaction announced in 2021]
Goldfinch, an American decentralized finance credit platform focused on developing markets, raised a $25M Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto arm with participation from Coinbase Ventures, SV Angel, Blocktower, Bill Ackman, and Heli-cap — Founded in 2021 by Coinbase alumni, the company has $39M in active loans, over 50% of which are in African countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Liberia, and Sierra Leone)
HealthLeap, an American/South African AI-enabled platform for the treatment & prevention of hospital malnutrition, raised a $1.1M pre-seed led by Fifty Years — Launched in April 2021 in stealth mode, the company’s Nutrileap app is used by ~50 dietitians in private beta and has a waitlist nearing 1,000 medical professionals; it is currently focused on the US market
Teraco, a South African data center operator that is Africa’s largest, entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by NYSE-listed Digital Realty, the largest global provider of cloud- and carrier-neutral data center, colocation, and interconnection solutions in a deal valuing Teraco at ~$3.5B — After closing, Digital Realty will own approximately 55% of the total equity interests in Teraco, establishing it as the continent’s leading colocation and interconnection provider in an environment of rapid growth
Adapt IT, a previously JSE-listed South African provider of specialized software and digital business solutions, has been acquired by Volaris, a subsidiary of Canada's Constellation Software, and de-listed — Founded in 1996, AdaptIT grew its customer base to more than 10, 000 customers across 55 countries worldwide
Platform One, an Egyptian healthcare supply chain solutions platform, was acquired for an undisclosed amount by Aumet, an American/Jordanian B2B healthcare marketplace focused on the MENA region — With the acquisition, Aumet gains access the Platform One’s network of over 150 pharmaceutical suppliers and 600 pharmacies [Note: transaction announced in 2021]
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The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read weekly recap for Africa-interested founders, executives, investors, and observers. Share it with your colleagues. 🙏
📚 Quick Hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE
The quick and dirty startup founder’s compensation guide — “As a founder, you need to convince a candidate to join a company they may not have heard of, has a high risk of failure, and can’t pay the same salaries as larger, name-brand companies. To have a chance of solving this, you need to master compensation almost as soon as you start to grow your company beyond the founding team. Many founders struggle with it.”
The 30 best pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2021 — First Round highlights the can’t-miss, standout pieces of specific & actionable advice heard in 2021.
The 3 pricing strategies: grow, skim, or follow, and which to follow — Grow: set a low price and shut off margin from your competitors. Skim: initially set a relatively high price to reinforce your value and capture the profit you need for future investment in innovation. Follow: set price based on your largest competitor or a dominant input so that you track changing market conditions.
Resilience and the ‘Stockdale Paradox’ — A fascinating read from SKV Capital’s Paul Kedrosky and Eric Norlin on the big macro trends of the coming decades
DAOs: social networks that can rewire the world — A solid overview of decentralized autonomous organizations and their main categories/use cases today from the Coinbase team
The mirrortable — Balaji Srinivasan on how mirrortables (on-chain replicas of traditional cap tables) could help angel investing. “A mirrortable is to a cap table what a stablecoin is to a fiat currency.”
The economics of creativity: who gets paid and why — In every era, technology showers some creative skills with money & status, while other creative skills bring the creator little reward. Here, NFX unpacks the historical context and explores why.
Lessons from Cash App — “Cash App mastered the 4Cs of successful brand building: community, collaborations, content, and curation, and turned them into its winning go-to-market strategy — for the next generation of companies, the biggest network effect is culture, not technology.”
Towards a partnership model for family offices & emerging venture firm managers — A research report from Refashiond Ventures’ Brian Laung Aoaeh that “every family office that is thinking about investing in emerging venture fund managers has been waiting for.”
🙈 Visual of the week
EQUITY RISK PREMIUMS — A MEASURE OF COUNTRY RISK (FOR PUBLIC MARKET INVESTORS)
Source: Professor Aswath Damodaran
🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
African entrepreneurs with business ideas or existing businesses younger than 5 years, can now apply for $5000 seed capital & mentorship as part of the 2022 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program
Airtel Money Africa’s CEO explains its mobile payment spin-off from its telecom parent (Quartz)
I know what the end of the world looks like — an interview with Gro Intelligence’s Sara Menker (New York Times)
Fintechs in Africa continue to overshadow all other startups in funding gained (Techcrunch)
Here’s why startup funding in the Maghreb ecosystem is low (Techcabal)
3 trends in Africa’s crypto sector to expect In 2022 (Business Insider Africa)
Meet the Investor: William Bao Bean, SOSV (Disrupt Africa)
Can edtech solve Africa’s education gap? (Ventures Africa)
🗣️ Community Corner
I see you, friends!
Work with Afridigest readers and friends like Max Bayen & Aaron Fu at BFA Global — BFA Global/Catalyst Fund is hiring an Investment Officer, preferably located in Nairobi or Lagos
Thanks to Dr. Ikpeme Neto for this Twitter thread targeted towards African founders who are raising from VCs
Thanks for reading 🙌 And thanks in advance for sharing this Week in Review across your social networks.