Afridigest Week in Review: MENASSA is here
+Two Mega-rounds +Largest MEA pre-seed ($11M) +A creator economy acquisition +Mobile money in Ethiopia +Language/Market fit +More crypto conversations +Africa's Innovation Index +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! Seems like there’s increasingly more news these days 📈 Let’s get right into it.
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 45 2021
📰 Deal of the Week
MENASSA = MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Helium Health, a Nigerian multi-service healthtech, acquired Meddy, a Qatari doctor booking & telemedicine platform, for an undisclosed amount. Meddy’s CEO and COO will join Helium’s leadership team and Meddy’s services will be folded into Helium Doc.
Helium Health has enrolled over 500 healthcare facilities across Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Kenya and Uganda on its platform, with 7,000+ medical professionals reaching 300,000+ patients monthly. And, for its part, Meddy serves 150+ private clients, has facilitated over 200,000 doctor appointments, and has enabled healthcare providers to generate ~$130M in billings.
💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: In Week 27, we noted OPay’s expansion to Egypt, Kobo’s new positioning as a company focused on Africa & the Middle East, and Flourish Ventures’ first North African investment, concluding “MENASSA (Middle East North Africa + sub-Saharan Africa) is coming.”
Well, with this deal, it seems MENASSA is officially here. As Co-Founder & CEO, Adegoke Olubisi said of the deal, “We hope this rare alliance between a sub-Saharan African tech company and a MENA one will be the first of many in our ecosystems.” Indeed.
⛏️ Go deeper:
Harbinger of what’s to come? 2022 could be the year we see previously sub-Saharan Africa-focused startups expand in droves to the MENA region, and vice versa. As the ecosystem continues to grow across the continent, more SSA startups will have to take a serious look beyond the typical Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa playbook to large markets elsewhere — and MENA is a prime candidate
Exits: According to MENABytes, Meddy previously raised $2.5M from the US’ Modus Capital, Turkey’s 212, Qatar Science & Technology Park, UAE’s Kasamar Holdings, UAE’s Innoway, and others
Recap: Helium Health has ~$12M in total disclosed funding from Global Ventures, AAIC, Tencent, and Y Combinator
🔦 Other deals
MEGAROUNDS: DEAL OF THE WEEK RUNNERS-UP
Jumo, a South African/British emerging markets lender & banking-as-a-service platform, raised a $120M venture round at a $400M valuation led by Fidelity with participation from Visa and Kingsway Capital — Jumo operates in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ivory Coast, and Pakistan and has disbursed over $3.5B to 18M customers, including 120M individual loans; this is Fidelity’s first foray into Africa
MFS Africa, the pan-African digital payments network, raised a $100M Series C ($70M equity and $30M debt) co-led by AfricInvest FIVE, Goodwell Investments and LUN Partners Group, with participation from CommerzVentures, Allan Gray Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, Endeavor Harvest, and ShoreCap III — The MFS platform connects more than 320M mobile money wallets across 35+ African countries and 700 corridors
EGYPT + UGANDA + MOROCCO +SOUTH AFRICA + KENYA + RWANDA + NIGERIA
Rabbit, an Egyptian dark store & quick-commerce platform, raised an $11M pre-seed from Global Founders Capital, Raed Ventures, Foundation Venture, MSA Capital, and Goodwater Capital — The round is the largest pre-seed on record across Africa and the Middle East
Zembo, a French/Ugandan electric motorcycle vendor & operator of charging and battery swapping stations, raised $3.4M from Mobility 54, DOB Equity, and InfraCo Africa — Zembo sell its motorcycles via lease-to-own plans and uses a battery-as-a-service model that allows drivers to swap expired batteries for fully charged ones at a fee
Sle3ti, a Moroccan B2B marketplace that connects FMCG retailers to wholesalers and distributors, raised a ~$3.2M seed round from the investment fund of the Richbond — This is “the largest seed round for a Moroccan startup with Moroccan investors,” according to its CEO; Notably, Chari.ma raised a $5M seed last month in what was the country’s largest seed round without any qualifications. The Richbond Group is a notable player in Morocco with a distribution network containing ~2,000 points of sale
Root, a South African digital insurance-as-a-service platform, raised a $3M seed round from Invenfin, Base Capital, Savannah Fund, P1 Ventures, Luno, FireID, and others — Using Root’s infrastructure, its clients, which include Mr Price Money, Telkom, and Sanlam have processed millions of policies and thousands of claims per month
Educatly, an Egyptian platform that allows students to search, compare, and apply to over 120,000 higher education opportunities worldwide, raised a $1M pre-seed from Enterprise Ireland, the Falak Startups, and others — Since its late 2020 inception, Educatly's userbase has grown to 100,000 users across 190 countries; the startup has onboarded over 450 schools worldwide to its platform and over 45K student profiles
Craydel, a Kenyan AI-powered higher ed discovery & recommendation platform, raised a $1M pre-seed led by Enza Capital with participation from BriteGaze, Future of Learning Fund, Bisk Ventures, Tekton Ventures, Chandaria Capital, LoftyInc, and others — Since inception, Craydel has partnered with more than 90 universities and vocational colleges and offers over 3,000 higher education programs
Viebeg Technologies, a Rwandan health-care focused logistics platform, announced that it raised $1M total, including a recent undisclosed amount from the Rwanda Innovation Fund — Viebeg previously announced an undisclosed-at-the-time pre-seed round from Beyond Capital Ventures, Beyond Capital Fund, and Eckenstein Geigy Stiftung
Adbot, a South African provider of online advertising solutions to SMEs, raised ~$500K from gender lens investor Enygma Ventures — Using machine learning and automation, Adbot creates a Google Ads account and helps clients set up ads in under 10 minutes
OTO Courses, an Egyptian online language learning platform, raised $400K “in cash and in-kind services” from EdVentures — Founded in 2015, OTO has delivered 350K hours of English lessons online to over 15K learners; it hasover 150 teachers/lecturers on its platform
IdentityPass, a Nigerian digital identity verification platform, raised a $360K pre-seed from CCHUB, Midlothian Angel Network, D Global Ventures Fund, and others — Founded earlier this year, the startup provided ID verification solutions for 170+ businesses and has already performed “millions of verifications”
BlinkApp, an Egyptian driver monitoring, road assistance, and accident detection platform, raised an undisclosed six-figure pre-seed — The company was selected as the first-place winner of the 2017 MIT-Pan Arab competition and has secured a partnership with gig-Egypt, one of the biggest insurance companies in the country
Flutterwave, the Nigerian payments unicorn, acquired Disha, a Nigerian creator-economy platform for an undisclosed amount — Disha will continue to operate as a separate brand and its ~20,000 users can now earn using Flutterwave’s payments infrastructure; Disha’s generates ~$1K in monthly recurring revenue and the acquisition price is rumored to be less than $100K
Mantium, an American cloud platform for building with & managing large language AI models, raised a $12.75M seed round co-led by Drive Capital and Top Harvest — Mantium’s team includes individuals on the ground in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya, and the African continent is a key market for the firm
GRANTS & CASH PRIZES
The Shamiri Institute, a Kenyan mental health startup, received a ~$1M award from the Templeton World Charity Foundation
Chooya, a Nigerian e-commerce startup digitizing word-of-mouth marketing, was awarded a $100k cash prize and an additional $850k in ‘program support’ from Entrepreneurship World Cup
📚 Reads of the Week
MOBILE MONEY IN THE HORN OF AFRICA
Journalist Kaleab Girma covers Ethiopia’s mobile money story for Rest of World.
“Bidding for the new licenses opened in April 2021. Local media had reported that the country expected to generate up to $2 billion from the sale, and 12 companies, many of them large global players, were said to have shown interest. But in the end, only two placed offers, and those offers were well short of expectations.”
🥇 “How Ethiopia blundered its transition to mobile money” by Kaleab Girma
WHY DID THE WHALING SHIP SET SAIL?
Is Africa's startup ecosystem, especially fintech, becoming an "enterprise market" where folks rely on formulas & copycat business models?
“The venture market becomes an enterprise market, or a collection of business enterprises at … the point where there is a formula, an easy copycat business model and a market that is basically asking for alternatives… The current venture market in Africa, especially fintech as we know it, is prematurely moving closer to becoming an enterprise market.”
“When ventures become enterprises” by Abraham Augustine
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📚 Quick Hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE
Finding language/market fit: how to make customers feel like you’ve read their minds — An argument that language/market fit is the most under-appreciated concept for early-stage startups, plus how to unlock it
The gringo Zoom venture capitalist and the new spray and pray — New investors in emerging markets are spraying and praying despite little on-the-ground experience
Operators are the new ‘it’ VCs — Ten lessons on the transition from operating to investing based on some of the most frequently asked questions
What does the future of people operations look like? — HR is quickly becoming a competitive advantage for forward-thinking companies & distributed teamwork is transforming the field forever
TIME’s best inventions of 2021 — 100 groundbreaking innovations changing how we live, work, play, and think about what’s possible, from COVID-19 vaccines to multilingual meeting services
Chris Dixon and Packy McCormick on the future of crypto — In 2022 decentralized services will chip away at big tech companies’ stranglehold on the internet
Pair with: Words with web3’s king: an interview with Chris Dixon — “We continue to underestimate the significance of the internet and the digital world”
How NFTs create value — NFTs are a completely novel asset class. To appreciate them, we first have to think through what they actually are & the types of market opportunities they enable, then we can understand how to build businesses around them.
Lightspeed’s India & SEA Crypto Market Map — India & SEA are fast emerging global epicenters for crypto; Crypto, not stocks, is going to be the asset-class of choice for new-to-investing millennials in India/SEA markets.
🙈 Visual of the week
FEW AFRICAN NATIONS OUTPERFORM IN INNOVATION
“Although Africa has 18% of the world’s population, it accounts for only 0.3% of global R&D spending and 0.5% of patent applications… The continent’s average innovation index score of 22.4 is below the emerging markets average of 29...[and] even the progress Africa has achieved has been concentrated in a handful of nations...”
Source: Igniting innovation-based growth in Africa (BCG)
🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Grindstone Ventures launches $6.5m VC fund for SA tech SME development (Disrupt Africa)
Egypt’s Benya Group signed an MoU with VC firm Openner to launch a $50M fund targeting African & Arab startups (Wamda)
Tilman Ehrbeck, Managing Partner at Flourish Ventures, writes ‘Fintech has taken off in Africa – here’s why it’s not a bubble’ (Fintech Africa)
Ingressive Capital analysts Ayobami Olajide and Ayobamigbe Teriba write ‘How African founders can secure funding for their startups’ (Techcabal)
Ifunanya Chiegboka, Director of Strategy and Development at OPay, writes ‘What do MTN and Airtel getting the approval in principle to operate Payment Service Banks mean for e-commerce in Nigeria’ (Linkedin post)
Tayo Oviosu, Paga Co-Founder & CEO writes ‘Digitizing Africa’s SMEs’ (Medium blog)
Yele Bademosi, CEO of Nestcoin discusses the state of Nigeria's Central Bank Digital Currency pilot with Coindesk
Bayo ‘Lion’ Adedeji, CEO of Wakanow discusses his journey with Peace Itimi on Founders Connect
Iyin Aboyeji, Future Africa Founder & General Partner, discusses technology, regulation, and Twitter with Kadaria Ahmed on Quarter to 12
Nigerians cautious over Africa's first digital currency (FT $)
One of the world’s poorest countries found a better way to do stimulus (Bloomberg Businessweek)
TLcom Capital managing partner Maurizio Caio on African unicorns, valuations and exits (TechCrunch)
Out of the shadow, Egypt money-pooling apps thrive (France24)
A handful of pro-gamers is putting Kenya on the global esports map (Quartz)
Why Nigeria’s vehicle financing culture is struggling to take flight (Techcabal)
Nigeria’s proptech industry finds success through fintech first (Commercial Observer)
African artists embrace NFTs for better rewards (Reuters)
How African refugees used bitcoin to build their own grassroots economy (Techcrunch)
Buy-Now-Pay-Later is exciting and worrying (TechCabal)
‘Baseless and unfounded’- Iyin Aboyeji’s Future Africa denies allegation of intellectual theft (Technext)
While Nigeria is sanctioning those caught trading crypto, Zimbabwe is considering adopting it as legal payment (Business Insider)
South Africa’s Mergers, Acquisitions, and Exits (Africa CAN blog)
🗣️ Community Corner
I see you, friends!
Well done to the Mati team for a great networking event in Lagos! 🥂
Congrats to Brian Yoon and the Goodwater team on the Egyptian deal this week 👀
Work with Sam Sturm, Kofo, Malanee, & others — Founders Factory Africa is hiring a Joburg-based Venture Sourcing Analyst
Thanks for reading 🙌 And thanks in advance for sharing this Week in Review across your social networks.