Afridigest Week in Review: The continent's crypto craze continues
+Deals from Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, & South Africa +Acquisitions +The ICED theory of growth +Customer development +Who's who across Africa's digital landscape +Pay via bank transfer +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 December 🎅 Never late is best, but oftentimes better late than never. (I do plan to be back to a regular Monday publishing schedule for these shortly so bear with me 🤝)
If you’re new, welcome 🙌 — you’ll receive a weekly digest like this one every Monday (er…or soon after) and, generally (but not always), an original essay/article on Saturdays. For past essays and digests, visit the archive.
Week 47 2021
📰 Deal of the Week
CRYPTO ACROSS THE CONTINENT
Busha, a Nigerian cryptocurrency exchange, raised a $4.2M seed round led by Jump Capital with participation from Cadenza Ventures, Blockwall Capital, CMT Digital, Greenhouse Capital, Raba Capital, and others.
Launched in 2019, Busha has quietly reached ~200K verified users who have executed over 1.5M trades since inception.
💡 Why it’s the deal of the week: The deal is the latest sign of growing cryptocurrency interest across the continent. Over the last year (plus), multiple crypto/blockchain-based opportunities across Africa have attracted the attention of entrepreneurs, investors, and other players, despite an often uncertain regulatory landscape.
Note, for example, global cryptocurrency platform FTX leading African unicorn Chipper Cash’s Series C extension round last month, with Chipper Cash taking multiple exploratory steps into the crypto arena.
⛏️ Go deeper:
Quotable: “Nigeria and the African continent are one of the most promising places for crypto to make a significant impact…” — Peter Johnson, Partner at Chicago’s Jump Capital, the round’s lead investor. Jump Capital recently raised a $350M seventh fund of which it’s reportedly dedicating 40% to blockchain/crypto opportunities.
Crypto exchanges across Africa: The list of local cryptocurrency exchanges across the continent is long & growing and includes Luno, VALR, Buycoins, Yellow Card, Bundle, Ejara, Patricia, Bitmama, and others, not to mention a myriad of other local exchange-like platforms that allow users to buy/invest in various cryptocurrencies
Shameless plug: Read the most exciting applications of cryptocurrency & blockchain in the African context
🔦 Other deals
FUNDRAISES IN NIGERIA, SOUTH AFRICA, KENYA, EGYPT
Sabi, a Nigerian B2B platform focused on digitizing Africa's informal retail sector, raised a $6M bridge round led by CRE Ventures — this comes after the startup’s $2M seed round (undisclosed at the time) in Week 35; at that time Sabi disclosed that it has 10,000+ agents and 150,000+ SMEs who have recorded over US$1.2B worth of sales via Sabi’s MyShop platform since mid-2020
Mobiz, a South African no-code martech platform, raised a $4M pre-Series A from HAVAÍC, Futuregrowth, Launch Africa, Allan Gray E-Squared Ventures, CapaciTech, and Endeavor’s Harvest Fund — Mobiz works with over 100 brands and claims its SMS messages have a 98% open rate & are read within three minutes
OnePipe, a Nigerian embedded finance infrastructure provider, raised a $3.5M seed round co-led by Atlantica Ventures, Tribe Capital, and V&R Associates. Also participating were new investors Canaan Partners, Saison Capital, Norrsken, The Fund, & Two Culture Cap, and existing investors Techstars, Ingressive Capital, Acquity, P1, Raba, DFS Lab, & others — Since its pivot from an aggregation focus to embedded finance infrastructure 10 months ago, OnePipe has processed over 6M transactions worth over $46M, serving 1 million individuals and ~140 businesses
Treepz (formerly Plentywaka), a Nigerian mobility-as-a-service platform announced that it closed a $2.8M seed round — The startup previously announced raising $1.2M led by Canada’s The Xchange in Week 34; the company now announces an additional $1.5M from Uncovered Fund, Blanford Capital, Jonomi Capital, and Jedar Capital
Asilimia, a Kenyan cash management, bookkeeping & mobile money payments platform focused on the informal sector, raised a $2M pre-seed (50% equity, 50% debt) with Norrsken Impact Accelerator & others participating in the equity portion and Bpifrance & GreenTec Capital Partners providing the debt financing — ~27,000 users use Asilimia's apps, with $20M processed via its Leja app to date; the funding will be used to provide collateral-free loans to MSMEs and traders
Hollydesk, an Egyptian SME-focused accounts payable & expense management SaaS, raised a $325K pre-seed round led by angel investor Faisal Abdel Salam and others — The company disclosed that it has acquired over 3,000 SME clients in less than six months since its June founding
Paycode, a South African provider of biometric digital identity solutions, raised an undisclosed pre-Series A — The company currently serves users primarily across Ghana, Zambia, and Mozambique, but sees Nigeria and DRC as its key markets for future growth; Paycode announced a partnership with Mastercard in September and is targeting a Q1 2022 Series A
Hekouky, an Egyptian company incorporation & trademark registration platform, raised an undisclosed pre-seed round from Nama Ventures — The startup was one of 12 startups selected to take part in the second cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator Middle East and North Africa earlier this year
HoneyCoin, a Kenyan creator-economy-focused peer-to-peer payments platform, raised an undisclosed amount from Microtraction — The startup processed ~$100K monthly and is currently available in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, the UK, Rwanda, and South Africa.
Crossfin, a South African payments & lending platform, was acquired for $95M by a consortium of investors, led by Ethos’ Mid-Market Fund I (EMMF) — The consortium also includes billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital (ARC)
Treepz (seed round announcement above) acquired Ugabus, a Ugandan bus company that aggregates inter-city bus operators for an undisclosed amount — With the acquisition, Treepz enters East Africa; Ugabus (now Treepz Uganda) has 50,000 customers & 70% of all the country’s bus operators on its platform
Fixit45, a Nigerian repair-focused autotech platform, acquired Parkit, a network of tech-enabled auto-care and car wash centers across Nigeria — Fixit45 currently operates across 4 cities in Nigeria with over 100 ‘network partners’' and over 2500 vehicles under management
EduOne, a South Africa career guidance platform, was acquired by South African education finance and fund management company Fundi — EduOne’s platform EduConnect will be rebranded FundiConnect; in 2020 it serviced ~2.M students and engaged over 1 200 high school teachers
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The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read recap for Africa-interested founders, executives, investors, and observers. Share it with someone who should be reading it. 🙏
📚 Quick Hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE
The ICED theory on growing infrequent products — All products have a natural frequency of usage and products that are used infrequently are easy to forget; the problem is that people wrongly try to apply the same growth tactics and strategies of frequent products to infrequent products
Mastering customer development in a structured way — The only way to grow successfully is to understand the real problems and needs of your customers. Customer development is a structured framework that helps to understand your problem space, validate product hypotheses, and decide on the perfect customer and potential business model
Your board of directors is probably going to fire you — Boards, while necessary, are dangerous to founders/CEOs. VCs aren’t on boards to help, they are on boards for one reason: to monitor their investment so they can do something if things aren’t going how they want
Fundraising learnings: 250+ meetings in 98 days to the oversubscribed round — Treat fundraising as a sales process, power through the valley of death, and compare yourself to successful companies in order to explain, in an easy to grasp way, the potential of the company to investors
Crypto design challenges — It’s still early days in crypto and tomorrow’s users won’t be as tolerant of poor experiences as today’s early adopters. So then, can truly great experiences for common activities in crypto be designed today? Does the underlying tech have to evolve significantly first? What's the best we can do with today's technological constraints?
The token disconnect — Between the software engineers, VCs, economists, and the chattering class there is very little consensus at the base level of reality of what the heck is even going on with crypto; Blockchain as a technology barely works and its use cases are vanishingly small and niche
Consensys’ Web3 report — A look at the DeFi data, context, NFTs, tools, and trends
that defined Web3 this summer
🙈 Visual of the week
THE TOP 40 MOST INFLUENTIAL PLAYERS ACROSS AFRICA'S INTERNET ECONOMY
🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Pair with: A beginner’s guide to social tokens
Iyin Aboyeji discusses how Andela connects companies with software developers in Africa & emerging markets on the Afrobility podcast
Releaf's Ikenna Nwezi, Revolute Systems' Jacobus Els, and ReelFruit's Affiong Williams discuss agriculture and food processing value chains across Africa on The Flip podcast
Nnamdi and Yemi discuss house hunting and how property marketplaces grow across Africa on The African Startup Teardown podcast
Ifeanyi Duru, VP at TeamApt’s Monnify writes “Going beyond cards: the genesis of ‘pay via bank transfer’”
Timi Ajiboye, Co-Founder & CEO of Nigerian/pan-African crypto infrastructure platform Helicarrier, writes ‘It’s early days (for blockchain/crypto/web3) — here’s why’
Sayo Folawiyo, Co-Founder & CEO of South African home services marketplace Kandua, writes ‘Why we’re taking a full stack approach to jobtech’
Betting on SME digitization in Africa (TechCabal)
Curb your enthusiasm: payment service banks and financial inclusion in Nigeria (Benjamin Dada)
Why AI needs input from Africans (Quartz)
Africa’s first e-currency is off to a shaky start (Rest of World)
Egypt is rapidly rising to top spot in Africa’s startup ecosystem (The Africa Report)
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao talks regulation and platform’s activities in Africa (Techcrunch)
Africa’s Top 100 banks in 2021 (African Business)
An interview with Babajide Duroshola, M-KOPA general Manager (Nairametrics)
Nigerian fintech Abeg faces its biggest test yet after blitzscaling to millions of users (Techcrunch)
🗣️ Community Corner
I see you, friends!
Sam Chappatte passes the baton to Betty Mwangi and steps down from the Jumia Kenya CEO role to “take a shot at something entrepreneurial” — Exciting times, Sam 🤩
Work alongside Stephen Deng, Joseph Benson-Aruna, and the rest of the DFS Lab team — they’re hiring a Director of Consulting to help build a consulting practice that advises clients including large private capital funds, the World Bank, and global technology platforms on engaging with the African tech ecosystem 🧠
Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) is hiring a Nairobi- or Accra-based Investment Manager for a new fund-of-funds targeting first-time and emerging gender lens investment vehicles
Thanks for reading 🙌 And thanks in advance for sharing this Week in Review across your social networks.