Afridigest Week in Review: Lots of love for logistics
+Deep-dive on tech in Africa +Hypergrowth +Crypto crooks +Super apps are still sexy +Cowboy season 2021
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! First off: Er, apologies… I took a pretty long and unexpected hiatus since my last post, but I’ll be back in your inboxes regularly throughout the second half of this year, if you’ll still have me. Happy July in advance, and thanks for your understanding & readership. (Thanks especially to everyone who reached out via WhatsApp, Twitter, email, etc. We’re back, as promised. 💪)
If you’re new, welcome (& sorry for the wait) 🙌 — you’ll receive 2 weekly Afridigest emails: a weekly digest like this one (on Mondays) and an article or essay (generally on Saturday evenings Lagos time). For past articles and digests, visit the archive.
Week 25 2021
📰 Deal of the week
Maersk Growth, the corporate VC arm of Danish shipping company Maersk, and Saudi-based Raed Ventures co-led the equity portion, with Algebra Ventures, Vision Ventures, Next Billion Ventures, Venture Souq, Foundation Ventures, and Flexport participating. Lendable and others provided debt financing.
Launched in 2019, Trella is a digital truck brokerage operating in Egypt, Saudia Arabia & Pakistan that connects shippers and logistics providers. It works with over 350 shipper partners including Maersk, Coca-Cola, and other blue-chip brands, and has over 15,000 logistics partners in its network.
💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: Trella CEO Omar Hagrass, previously an executive within Uber’s EMEA expansion team, told Reuters he believes Trella is now one of Egypt's most valuable tech startups. While the valuation is undisclosed, with this funding round, Trella joins the ranks of some of the continent’s best-funded startups.
⛏️ Go deeper:
Others startups operating in the tech-enabled logistics space across Africa include Nigeria’s Kobo360 ($30M Series A in 2019 — $20M equity/$10M debt), Egypt & MENA-focused Trukker ($23M Series A in 2019), and Kenya’s Lori Systems (2019 Series A — undisclosed amount but purported to be between $20-$30M)
Trella was part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 batch and previously acquired local competitor Trukto, creating Egypt’s largest tech-enabled logistics platform
This is Maersk Growth’s first African investment
🔦 Other deals
EDTECH, AGRITECH, AND HEALTH-TECH
HyperionDev, a South African computer science-focused ed-tech startup, raised a ~$3.5 million in Series A round, with a majority of the round coming via British equity crowdfunding platform, CrowdCube
Ed Partners Africa, a lender targeting the education sector, raised a $1.9M funding round from Acumen, I&P, Zephyr and others
Apollo Agriculture, a Kenyan agri-tech startup, raised $1 million in debt financing from the Agri-Business Capital Fund
Villgro Africa, the Kenyan health-focused incubator & impact investor provided $170,000 to four startups:
Kenya’s Damu-Sasa: $50,000 (equity)
Ethiopia’s Simbona: $50,000 (grant)
Kenya’s DawaPay: $50,000 (grant)
Uganda’s Wekebere: $20,000 (grant)
Giraffe, a South African job recruitment platform, was acquired by the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a South Africa nonprofit
WizzPass, a South African visitor management platform, was acquired by FM:Systems, a US-based provider of digital workplace solutions
📚 Reads of the Week
On Deck CTO Andreas Klinger shares some bullet-point advice targeted to those joining high growth startups. (Fairly thought-provoking for those building them as well, in my opinion at least.)
“Don’t think in roles; but understand problems and apply skills
be the person everyone wants to ask to fix something :
go in; fix/create/setup/improve; hire someone better; move to next
first in a weekly rhythm; then monthly; then quarterly; then yearly”
🥇 “Joining hypergrowth startups” by Andreas Klinger
NOT SO QUICK READ
The Generalist’s Mario Gabriele and others (including some Afridigest subscribers :)) write a comprehensive, well-thought-out introduction to Africa’s tech/startup ecosystem. (I have some minor gripes here and there, but it’s good content overall — and the ecosystem exposure is great. 👌)
“Trying to use India or China as an analogy misses the reality of investing in Africa: it’s not a unified market, it’s a region. Companies do not operate ‘across Africa,’ they win share in specific national markets… Of course, it’s understandable that many begin with this kind of framing, particularly if they have more experience in other regions. It doesn’t help that venture investors are also seduced by large total addressable markets (TAM) and knowing that, founders craft continental fairytales to inflate the size of their opportunity. Rather than positioning themselves as a ‘Rwandan fintech,’ startups often frame themselves as pan-African.”
🥇 “Tech in Africa” by Gabriele et al.
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🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Peter Kisadha, Researcher at Future Africa writes ‘Corporate venture capital is widely misunderstood but makes sense for Africa’
Yinka Adegoke, Editor for Strategic Initiatives at Rest of World and former founding Editor of Quartz Africa, writes his Africa-focused inaugural piece for RoW: ‘Why every platform wants to be a super app’
Google launched the Black Founders Fund for Africa, a $3M non-dilutive fund to be allocated across a pipeline of 50 African startups. Applications are open through July 7th.
The Last Mile Money Startup Accelerator, an initiative of IDEO & the Gates Foundation, is offering targeted grant funding ($50K USD) and product design support for startups solving Cash-In/Cash-Out challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Applications are open through July 11th.
ExpertDojo, the US-based accelerator, is launching a September 2021 Africa-only Pre-Series A virtual accelerator that offers $100,000 USD in exchange for 7% equity. Applications are considered on a rolling basis. (Its current Africa portfolio includes Akiba Digital, Klasha, StarNews Mobile, and ThankUCash.)
Job Opportunities of the Week
Umba, the emerging markets digital bank currently operating in Kenya & Nigeria, is hiring a San Francisco-based Chief Operating Officer / Director of Operations.
Umba, the emerging markets digital bank currently operating in Kenya & Nigeria, is hiring a Lagos-based Product Manager.
Tiger Brands, South Africa's largest food producer, is hiring a Johannesburg-based Venture Capital Director to lead its new corporate venture capital initiative.
GoJo, the financial inclusion-focused investor & operator, is hiring a Nairobi-based Investment Analyst/Associate.
Villgro Africa, the incubator and impact investor, is hiring an Africa-based Senior Investment Analyst.
Idris Bello, Founding Partner at LoftyInc Capital Management, is hiring a Chief of Staff (location flexible within Africa).
Rest of World, the media publication focused on tech beyond the Western bubble, is hiring a Regional Editor, Africa (location flexible within Africa).
To submit a job opportunity to be featured here, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
🗣️ A final word
WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT
How hard it is to rebuild once lost. Finally getting back on the horse though — cowboy season 2021. 🤠🏇
If you’re still reading this, send me a message on Whatsapp or Twitter DM @eajene. Why? Because I’d like your opinion on something I’ll be piloting later this year. (Email also works - simply respond to this newsletter or email: email@example.com)