Afridigest Week in Review: Agtech's Ascent
+Lessons from Brazil's instant payments +Lessons from Wave Mobile Money +Chaotic culture at Bento +Media Matters +B2B BNPL +ODX Flexport +Much More
The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read weekly recap for Africa-focused founders, executives, and investors, as well as interested observers. Share it liberally. 😊
Welcome back, friends! The most clicked link from last week was Jason’s tweet about Jumia — and excluding tweets from Jason and your humble author, the most clicked link from last week would be Mario's 10 lessons from great businesses.
Special thanks also to the eagle-eyed reader who, correcting us about the Quartz mention being our first, shared that an Afridigest mention appeared in PYMNTS.com at the end of last year. (Thanks to the folks reading from PYMNTS — on est ensemble 🤸🏽) And congrats also to our friends at alGROWithm — I see you, Bili…exciting times 💥
And this week, dear reader, for the first time we selectively open up future newsletter sponsorships to the general public. And, of course, thanks again to our inaugural sponsor intellence for rocking with us. And, with all that said, let’s get into Week 12! (Please pardon all errors.)
If you’re new, welcome 🙌🏽 — you’ll receive a weekly digest like this one every Monday, and, sparingly, an original essay/article on Saturdays. For past essays and digests, visit the archive.
Week 12 2022: March 20 - 26
📰 Deal of the Week
Apollo Agriculture. a Kenyan agritech platform that helps farmers access high-quality farm inputs, financing, and markets, raised a $40M Series B led by Softbank (Vision Fund 2), with participation from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Yara Growth Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, CDC, and existing investors including Anthemis Exponential Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Leaps by Bayer, SBI, Breyer Capital, TO Ventures Food, and others
⛏️ Go deeper:
Apologies: While Apollo’s story is indeed impressive, I write this section last, and I traveled for urgent personal reasons this week. So, expect this section to be updated before the next Week in Review.
🔦 Other deals
OTHER FUNDRAISES ACROSS THE CONTINENT
Lucky App, an Egyptian discount/cashback rewards app, raised a $25M round led by Nclude, with participation from Naspers unit PayU, Global Ventures, National Bank of Egypt, Venture Souq, Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, Endeavor Catalyst, OTF, Arzan Capital, Disruptech and others
Powered by People, a Kenyan wholesale B2B e-commerce platform, raised a $5M seed round co-led by Susa Ventures and Golden Ventures, with participation from Flexport Ventures, J Ventures, and others
Yemaachi Biotech, a Ghanaian cancer research & diagnostics company, raised a $3M seed round led by V8 Capital, with participation from the LifeLine Family Heritage Fund, Y Combinator, Tencent, LoftyInc Capital, VestedWorld, V Square Capital, and others
WaterSpirit, a Tunisian B2B microalgae biotech platform, raised ~$2.1M (6.2M Tunisian dinars) — Founded n 2018 and obtained the company cultivates specific strains of microalgae
Kwik, a French/Nigerian B2B logistic platform raised a $2M Series A led by XBTO Ventures, with participation from Humla Ventures, Nabuboto, and others — since its 2019 launch, the company has onboarded more than 100,000 merchants
FlapKap, an Egyptian e-commerce SaaS platform targeting the MEA region, raised $1.2M led by A15 — FlapKap offers e-commerce businesses AI-based insight to help them optimize their advertising spend
Klas, a Nigerian platform for online learning, raised a $130K angel round from Voltron capital, Cabal Fund, Velocity Digital, HoaQ, and a number of local entrepreneur-angels
African Valuables Collective (AVC), a Nigerian platform to allow content creators to create and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs), raised an undisclosed pre-seed from Kepple Africa Ventures and others
ODX Flexport the vertical accelerator for the logistics industry from OnDeck officially announced the first cohort:
OnePort365: a Nigerian digital freight management platform for African traders was listed in Week 2
Pivo: a Nigerian credit & financial services platform for supply chain SMEs micro traction was also listed in Week2 but this marks the first fundraise we attribute to the company from ODX
Logistify: a Kenyan/Ugandan provider of last-mile food supplier distribution infrastructure
SendStack: a Nigerian platform building intra-city next-day delivery & logistics infrastructure across Africa was no longer included despite Week 2’s publicity
ThriveAgric, a Nigerian technology-driven platform providing access to finance & markets for smallholder farmers, raised $56.4M in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors — The raise also included a co-investment grant of $1.75M from USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment
In partnership with VC firm Global Ventures, Egypt's largest state-owned banks announced Nclude, an $85M fund targeting fintechs in the Middle East & Africa — Banque Misr is the anchor investor, with National Bank of Egypt and Banque du Caire as other core strategic investors; other LPs include eFinance Investment Group, and Egyptian Banks Co. Nclude’s portfolio includes Khazna, a financial Super App; Lucky, Egypt’s leading consumer fintech app that offers BNPL, cashback rewards and credit; Mozare3, an agri-fintech platform for smallholder farmers; and Paymob, a leading digital payment service provider
Egypt’s SWVL acquired Berlin’s public mobility solutions provider door2door for an undisclosed amount — Founded in 2012, door2door developed a proprietary "mobility as a service" oftware platform that currently operates across 10 European countries and has approximately 24% market share in Germany
A MESSAGE FROM INTELLENCE
Outsource your content marketing to the experts.
You know you need a holistic content marketing strategy, but it’s not your core competency. Maybe you’ve tried freelancers in the past or you’ve tried some in-house initiatives, but you know could and should be doing more.
At the end of the day, high-impact content marketing isn’t simple. But we can help. Our team of strategists, researchers, writers, and editors are experts in helping Africa-focused investors and companies stand out. Check our track record. We deliver customized ghostwritten, content marketing—led by insights and thought leadership—that sustainably differentiates you from yout peers. We’re intellence. The intelligent influence company.
📚 Quick Hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE
Innovation in media: Reinventing how ideas and culture spread — Index Ventures’ Rex Woodbury: “Media isn’t some stale category; there’s innovation happening across every slice… [It’s] far from an unsexy or unprofitable category. Rather, it’s the way that we consume and create culture. ‘Traditional’ media categories are all being reinvented in radical ways, and technology is creating new categories altogether…. The companies and products that define the next generation of media will have an outsized impact on how we live, think, and interact.”
BNPL For B2B marketplaces: Accelerating trillions in B2B spending — Bain Capital Ventures’ Noah Breslow: “in markets like China and Argentina, consumers regularly use BNPL to purchase everything from video games to cheeseburgers, subway rides, and haircuts. This growing passion for instant purchase gratification will cause consumer BNPL transactions to reach $680 billion worldwide by 2025…. [But] the opportunity in B2B commerce is about 3X the size of the opportunity in B2C...”
Pair with: B2B marketplaces → Financial operating systems (the most clicked link from Week 9 2022’s Week in Review)
23 tactical company building lessons, learned from scaling Stripe & Notion — Interesting distillation from First Round Review of thoughts from new First Round Capital partner Cristina Cordova: “A big mistake early-stage companies make around launch is focusing too much on sign-ups. It’s great to have 10,000 sign-ups in one day — but are they paying you? Are they actively using your product? Are they adopting new features? Those are the things that you really need to care about.”
How to tell if you’ve found true product-market fit — Eniac VC’s Hadley Harris and Anthony Ha: “One big danger facing startup founders is the premature belief that you’ve found product-market fit.… The true test is whether you’re getting “pull” from the market, or if you still have to “push” your solution onto the world…. The real danger comes when it’s not just founders but also investors who confuse premature PMF for the real deal.”
Enabling infrastructure & the opportunity to power the next generation of fintechs — Redpoint Ventures’ Medha Agarwal: “Financial services is the largest sector globally by market cap. 162 of the Fortune 500 are financial services businesses. [And] 56% of that market cap is owned by companies that have been around for longer than fifty years… [This] underlies a huge opportunity to disrupt and innovate in a massive category…[and] there are three broad themes where we will see accelerated innovation: product launch, operational requirements & workflows, and crypto enablement.”
It’s time to redefine commerce — Headline VC’s Taylor Brandt: “[There are] three categories that I predict will drive us into the next era: commerce enablement, marketplaces, and go-to-market (GTM) technology…. Historically, people have too rigidly tried to define commerce by bifurcating B2B and B2C...these categories are not only interconnected but can fuel each other. Why limit the way we invest in them?”
What Web3 can learn from Steve Jobs — “Simply put, Web 3 products today are not so smart and [they are] hard to use. There will be no widespread adoption until builders rethink everything and create with consumers in mind…builders should rethink three key things: language, custody and utility.”
How people think — Near the top of my personal list of superb, less-well-known (internet) writers is Morgan Housel. Here, he pens yet another insightful read on human behavior in his unique style that draws upon the entirety of his life experiences
Why it costs so much to move goods around Africa ($) — “Poor infrastructure is one such barrier. Africa’s land area is big enough to accommodate China, India, the contiguous United States and much of Europe. Yet its railway network is not very much bigger than France’s and Germany’s combined…. And existing tracks are struggling…. Some 80-90% of freight goes by road, of which there are not enough. Road density is among the world’s lowest. And just 800,000km of the total of 2.8m in sub-Saharan Africa are paved….The imf reckons that if the quality of Africa’s infrastructure were brought up to the global average this would increase continental trade by 7%.” [Paywalled I think - but ping me if you want a copy]
Why Africa prints money in Europe — “At least 40 African countries print their money in the UK, France and Germany — decades after independence, raising questions about self-sufficiency. DW examines what prompts them to outsource their currency production.”
The 10 most innovative companies in artificial intelligence of 2022 — I’m personally quite interested in the intersection of AI and Africa, so while I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Fast Company lists, this resonates, particularly for creative thinkers skilled in extrapolation: “Once a sexy buzzword, artificial intelligence is rapidly morphing into something far more valuable: an everyday reality that quietly improves experiences of all sorts.”
🙈 Visual of the week
LESSONS FROM BRAZIL
“In just over a year since its launch in November 2020, Brazil’s Pix instant payment system has seen 114 million users (or 67% of the adult population). Brazil’s recent experience provides salient lessons…on how central bank infrastructures can support interoperability and competition, promoting lower costs and greater financial inclusion. These features also have relevance for the possible adoption of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).”
🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Awais Hussain, software engineer at Wave Mobile Money, writes ‘A case study in early-stage startup execution’
Bright Simons, president of mPedigree, writes in Rest of World, ‘African governments can’t be both referees and players in consumer fintech’
Former Microsoft Senior Director Yasser Elabd writes ‘Microsoft is using illegal bribes in the Middle East and Africa. Why is the SEC turning a blind eye?’
Michel Assaad, Senior Vice President of EMEA Strategy at Citi, writes ‘Egyptian FinTech Sector Review 2021’
Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike, Founder of Sahara Ventures, writes ‘A Sweet Big Lie Told to African Startups’
Teju Adeyinka, product/growth manager at Sendcash and 0x Labs, writes ‘How to mint your first NFT as a Nigerian digital artist’
PODCASTS & VIDEO
Hosts Laolu, Furo, and Nosa discuss recent fundraises and B2B supply chain businesses on the Open Africa podcast
Ali Hussein Kassim hosts Harry Hary, CIO Africa Chairman and Publisher, on an episode of Ali Talks Tech
Microsft’s Kunle Awosika appeared on CNBC Africa to discuss how to sustain & scale up start-ups in Africa
Tyranny in the workplace: The chaotic culture of Bento Africa (TechCabal)
Why African banks are investing in AI (African Business)
Are UK venture capital firms missing out on an African tech boom? (City AM)
Inside the global investing app boom (Rest of World)
Crypto users in Africa grew by 2,500% in 2021: Kucoin Report (Coin Telegraph)
Gozem to seek $80M in new finance, expand to DRC, Nigeria, Senegal (The Africa Report $)
Uganda’s SafeBoda wants to be a super app, but some riders are abandoning it (Rest of World)
Kloud Commerce wants to be the operating system for direct-to-consumer retail in Africa (TechCabal)
🗣️ Community Corner + Opportunities
I see you, friends!
Congrats to Bili Sule on the launch of alGROWithm’s Growth Talent Accelerator Programme (GTAP) in partnership with Digital Africa's Talent 4 Startups — apply at www.algrowithm.com/gtap
Congrats to Stephen Ozoigbo, Sr. Director Emerging Economies at Arm, on the launch of the (E3)NGAGE lab — Arm’s first ecosystem lab in South Africa
Congrats to Audrey Verhaeghe on the public introduction of seed to Series A fund Anza Capital
Congrats to Agnes Aistleitner Kisuule and Selma Ribica on the partnership between Kesho and Venture01 resulting in early-stage fund First Circle Capital
Join Ikenna Nwezi and other past finalists from the Afridigest community — applications are now open for the Jack Ma Foundation’s 2022 Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition
💥 Sponsor the Afridigest Newsletter
Afridigest helps smart readers around the world get smarter about Africa's innovation economy. As a provider of high-quality information, analysis, and insights, we’re now selectively exploring Q2 2022 partnerships with organizations that align with our goals and add value to our readers.
Put your brand in front of influential Africa-focused and Africa-interested decision-makers alongside a trusted source — our readers are generally founders, executives, venture capitalists, angel investors, media professionals, faculty members, and diverse service providers at leading organizations across Africa and the world.
Thanks for reading 🙌🏽 Send me your news, comments, questions, etc. via Whatsapp, Twitter DM, or email, and feel free to reach out if you just want to chat. 🙏🏽
Thanks also to our sponsor intellence for today’s Week in Review — email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to get started building your content flywheel and intelligent influence strategy.