Afridigest Week in Review: Capital pour la crypto-monnaie
+Afridigest Lagos meetup this Thursday +MENA's IPO boom +Lots of investor activity +Be less scared of overconfidence +How the Tingo? +More
The Afridigest Week in Review is a must-read weekly recap for Africa-focused founders, executives, and investors.
Welcome back, friends! The most clicked link from last week was 'The rise of earned wage access across developed & emerging markets.' (I also wrote a related Twitter thread.) And if you missed yesterday’s Fintech Review, it’s available here — a lot of interesting links in it, so if you're not yet a paying subscriber, I'd recommend taking advantage of the trial & checking it out.
📌 Since we last convened, I re-published an older article that I really enjoyed writing, 'The hierarchy of venture opportunities in emerging markets' — it resonated strongly with a lot of people, but I’ll let you be the judge. Be sure to let me know your thoughts. 🙏🏽 Aside from that, Semafor Africa also published a guest column from me on the governance reset coming to #AfricaTech — you can find it about halfway down the page here (& shoutout to Yinka for the opportunity). Finally, in last week’s newsletter, I talked about how impressed I was with Lex, the word processor with AI functionality. Well, this week, OpenAI’s ChatGPT came out and impressive would be an understatement. I highly, highly recommend you play around with it — it’s a small glimpse of the future & its killer use case for me so far is as a decision-making aide.
If you’re new, welcome 🙌🏽 — you're among thousands of readers who receive this Week in Review on Mondays, the Fintech Review on Sundays, and (for those who've opted in) the French-language Revue de la Semaine on Wednesdays (which is on a temporary hiatus right now). And from time to time, an original essay/article goes out on Saturdays. For past essays and digests, visit the archive.
Week 48 2022: Nov 27 - Dec 3
📰 Deal of the Week
🇨🇲 Ejara, a Cameroonian platform for investing in cryptocurrency & other assets, raised an $8M Series A co-led by Anthemis and Dragonfly Capital, with participation from Mercy Corps Ventures, Lateral Capital, Coinshares Ventures, Circle Ventures, Moonstake, Emurgo, Hashkey Group, BPI France, and others.
About Ejara: Founded in 2021, Ejara allows users in the CFA Franc zone to buy, sell, exchange, and non-custodially store their crypto assets. Ejara users can also make cross-border transactions via stablecoins.
The company which had roughly 8,000 users in October 2021, now reports over 70,000 users from nine Francophone African countries. According to the CEO, Ejara expects to reach 100,000 by the end of the year and has experienced 10x revenue growth and 15% month-on-month growth in transaction volumes since last October.
Baptiste Andrieux, Co-Founder & CFO
Ruth Foxe Blader, Partner at Anthemis
Mia Deng, Partner at Dragonfly Capital
In the founder’s words: “Traditional asset managers and banks…mainly target high-net-worth individuals and institutions.… Nobody is targeting the woman selling in the markets or the man driving a motorbike for a living. And because we structure the product the way we do, we have many people come to our platform because they can save up to 1,000 CFA franc daily.” — Nelly Chatue-Diop
In the investor’s words: “Ejara does not intend to limit itself to being a crypto app, but rather to become a one-stop shop for [financial] products tailored to the needs of Africans…, without the need for any crypto knowledge.” — Ruth Foxe Blader
Why we invested: Ejara. Anthemis. Oct 2021.
Why we invested in Ejara. Lateral Frontiers. Nov 2021.
Scaling West Africa’s first female-founded crypto investments platform: Why we invested in Ejara. Mercy Corps. Nov 2021.
Here's how Nelly Chatue-Diop plans to offer crypto and investment services in Francophone Africa. Business Insider. Aug 2022.
⭐ REMINDER: THE NEXT AFRIDIGEST LAGOS MEETUP IS HAPPENING THIS THURSDAY AT 6PM - SEE YOU THERE! ⭐
🔦 Other deals
OTHER FUNDRAISES ACROSS THE CONTINENT
🇳🇬 Orda, a Nigerian restaurant management platform, raised a $3.4M seed round co-led by FinTech Collective and Quona Capital, with participation from LoftyInc Capital, Enza Capital, the Norrsken Foundation, Outside VC, Far Out Ventures, and others.
🇰🇪 Badili, a Kenyan used smartphone buy-back 're-commerce' platform, raised a $2.1M pre-seed from The Venture Catalysts, V&R Africa, Grenfell Holdings, SOSV, and others. The company announced it was targeting a $3.5M pre-seed in Week 19.
🇰🇪 Uncover Skincare, a Kenyan e-commerce marketplace & manufacturer focused on beauty & personal care products, raised a $1M seed round from FirstCheck Africa, Samata Capital, Future Africa, IgniteXL, and others.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
The acquisition of the operating business and assets of Nigerian agri-fintech platform Tingo by Asia-focused financial technology group MICT (NASDAQ: MICT) was completed. MICT is issuing 19.9% of its common stock to Tingo, together with convertible Series A Preferred and Series B Preferred Stock, as consideration. [Note: Any info/insights on Tingo you have are still very much welcome.]
South African VC firm 4Di Capital announced the second closing of its new $25M (R425M) seed fund. 4Di’s portfolio includes Aerobotics, LifeQ, VALR, and Wasoko.
Hybrid Nigerian PE/VC investment firm Aruwa Capital announced the successful final close of its first institutional fund at >$20M. While Aruwa is perhaps more PE than VC (its founder calls it ‘pre-private equity’), its current portfolio includes fintech startups PngMe and CrowdForce.
The Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund (MFAGF) launched with $200M in commitments. MFAGF is a Fund of Funds that will invest, using gender-lens investing principles, in early-stage, growth stage, debt, seed VC funds, and non-traditional African investment vehicles that invest in African SMEs.
📚 Quick hits
FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE
Be less scared of overconfidence — Really enjoyed this piece from Wave’s CTO Ben Kuhn on the perils of leaning on simple heuristics to make decisions when more detailed context is available: “Leaning too heavily on low-info heuristics pushes people away from being ambitious or trying to search for outliers.”
Tension: why product development requires balancing conflicting goals — Good read on the core tension in product work: “It turns out you can create business value without creating customer value – but only until you get caught.”
The end of blitzscaling — Really interesting read comparing the societal shift in mid-1960s USA to a likely shift today: “Instead of bigness being defined by immense skyscrapers, … the past decade has been defined by high-flying technology companies and a concept commonly referred to as ‘Blitzscaling’”
The hierarchy of venture opportunities in emerging markets — “While Maslow explored the catalysts of individual behavior, his hierarchy of needs can be applied to ecosystems and markets as well. Specifically, investors and entrepreneurs can extend Maslow’s theory of human motivation to develop a theory of market motivation — one that can be used as a framework to examine the opportunity set for new ventures.”
👀 Visual of the Week
If you haven’t been paying attention there’s an ongoing IPO boom across MENA exchanges.
Total IPO proceeds over the last 12 months (as of Nov. 30): Saudi Arabia: $8.5B; Dubai: $7.5B; Abu Dhabi: $2.6B; Kuwait: $323M; Israel: $100M; Egypt: $82M; Morocco: $82M; Tunisia: $23M; Oman: $11M.
Most of this hasn’t been tech, but rather the privatization of state-owned and government-related entities, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as regulators are making local exchanges more attractive.
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🕵️♀️ In case you missed it
Seedstars launched a new platform to invest in emerging and diverse VC fund managers — Seedstars Capital Partners Michael Weber and Benjamin Langer are looking for fund managers with sector and industry-specific strategies in regions and countries like Nigeria, Brazil, Indonesia, and India that are targeting pre-seed to Series A companies.
Zoho will open new offices in Johannesburg and in Nairobi in Q1 2023 — Zoho has received a lot of attention lately for reaching $1B in revenue with no venture funding, and Africa, where it already has a Lagos office, seems poised to play a big role in its future growth. Pair this news with this Twitter thread from Zoho’s Prashanth Krishnaswami.
500 Global has opened an office in Cairo, its first in Africa — 500 Global has been investing in Egypt for a decade and has investments in more than 60 Egyptian startups, including MaxAB, Homzmart, and Breadfast; this news is additional evidence of Egypt’s attractiveness to investors and signals 500 Global’s growing appetite for Africa.
Kenyan electric taxi pioneer NopeaRide is shutting down.
Nigerian crypto payment gateway Lazerpay announced layoffs.
Ugandan bike-hailing startup SafeBoda is exiting Nigeria.
ESSAYS, REPORTS, & LISTS
Ifeoma Ajunwa, law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, writes ‘Africa is waiting for what you promised, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey’ in the New York Times
Lavanya Anand, principal at VestedWorld, writes ‘How will Amazon win the hearts and wallets of African consumers?’
Addisu Lashitew, Fellow - Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institute writes ‘Digital technologies open vast business opportunities in Africa’
Tomi Davies, angel investor extraordinaire, writes ‘Big Cabal Media — roller-coaster beginning!’
Thabiso Foto, chief financial officer at Founders Factory Africa writes ‘Can Africa’s start-up sector keep up its record funding run?’
Endeavor Catalyst’s Derin Adebayo writes ‘Accelerating out of the downturn: How entrepreneurs should think about fundraising in a bear market’
Abderrahmane Chaoui writes ‘Algeria - A two-part deep dive into a potential startup giant (Part 2)’
Hugo Obi, founder of Maliyo Games writes ‘The Nollywood model for creating games in Africa’
Venture funding in Maghreb region gets facelift (Al-Monitor)
FTX collapse crushes crypto dreams in Africa and beyond (Context)
Nigerian crypto startups are laying staff off to stay afloat (Quartz)
Only 9pc of Kenyans have permanent, full-time jobs (Business Daily)
Female venture capitalists are pioneering South Africa’s Silicon Valley (Zaywa)
Daniel Yu, Founder & CEO, Wasoko (on growing the company)
Grace Legodi, Venture Partner and IC Member at Grindstone Ventures, and World Bank Group consultant (on Africa’s green economy)
Dickson Nsofor, Kora CEO (on Kenya’s Asset Recovery Agency withdrawing allegations of money laundering)
🐤 Tweet of the Week
Wise words from a decent man.
🗣️ Community Corner and Opportunities (feel free to send yours in)
🎯 Remember, the Afridigest Lagos meetup is happening this Thursday the 8th at 6PM in VI — if you didn’t sign up but you’re interested, please fill out this form ASAP. And if you have any questions, email me. Thanks 🙏🏽
The HBS Africa Business Club invites early-stage startups focused on Africa to apply for the New Venture Competition before January 2, 2023.
Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures is hiring a Nairobi-based Analyst.
Klasha is hiring a Lagos-based Senior Product Manager (Mobile).
Tushop is hiring a Nairobi-based COO — JD available via the ‘Work With Us’ section of the website.
Thanks for reading Afridigest 🙌🏽
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