This Week in Fintech - Africa (2/11)
Welcome to the first Africa edition of This Week In Fintech.
In this episode, I’ll share my:
Top three tweets of the week,
Stat of the week
Market updates in Africa
VC/Funding activity on the continent
Insightful thoughts on Africa and its tech ecosystem
Tweets of the week
Let Ido Sum, Partner, TLcom Capital take you deeper into the world of ESOPs
😂 Take all my money, Michael Jenkins
I see it, many people trying to do too much, early-on
Stat of the week
Fintech & DFS startups in Africa* with a female co-founder raised only 0.04% of the total funding in 2021. According to Briter Intelligence, these startups with a female co-founder raised only $700,000 in 2021 while the entire Fintech & DFS sector raised $1.52B.
Screenshot taken by 10:30PM (WAT) Jan 30, 2022
HQ in African countries and Female founders.
*Nigeria, SA, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Botswana
Screenshot taken by 10:42PM (WAT) Jan 30, 2022
2022 is off to a great start for teams with female co-founders as OZE closes a $3M round. More on this in our funding section below.
News from Africa
33% of the selected African startups for YC’s Winter 2022 batch are in the fintech & DFS space. The three startups are Moni (Nigeria), Touch and Pay (Nigeria), and Numida (Uganda)
Moni is offering mobile money agents (AKA POS entrepreneurs) access to low-interest loans to finance their CICO activities. The only collateral Moni needs is a referral from your community. Depending on the forces of demand (population density) and supply (ATM proximity & other CICO options), mobile money agents charge a 2% fee on average. Compared to the 0 - 0.6% ATMs charge per chargeable transaction, the fee agents charge is seen as prohibitive to customers but lucrative to the agents.
Touch and Pay is leveraging the power of Near Field Communication to digitize payment-related micro-transactions. Perhaps, the hallmark of their work over the past 5 years is inking a transport deal with the Lagos State Government. Their deal allows Lagosians to pay for public transport by topping up a card and tapping it on a payment reader attached to the bus. It works akin to the Oyster card of London.
Numida, like Moni, supports micro and small businesses with working capital loans of $100 (351K UGX) - $5,000 (17.5M UGX). But unlike Moni, they target semi-formal businesses and they disburse their funds via mobile money, which is the prevalent digital payment method in Uganda.
Africa-focused but London-based Private Equity firm, Helios Investment Partners LLP wants to help African telecom operators cash out on the latter’s mobile money and digital payment platforms (subsidiaries). You might not have heard of Helios, but you’d have heard of their Portco, Interswitch–one of Africa’s fintech Unicorns which they invested in in Dec. 2010–way back before fintech became sexy on the continent. According to information on their website, Helios is a majority shareholder in Interswitch. So, Helios definitely knows a thing about fintech investing. Similarly, this is not their first foray into the telecom space. In 2019, a mobile-mast firm, Helios Towers Plc that they founded was listed in London. Eager to see what comes out of this Helios + African Telcos partnerships.
Kenya Insurtech, Lami Technologies enters Malawi, DRC after acquiring Bluewave Insurance Agency. Both parties are startups from Kenya with female leaders at the helm of affairs. Individually, they have both built technology for the insurance sector. However, the difference between them is their expansion markets. Lami is in Uganda and Tanzania (through partnership) while Bluewave is in Malawi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Together, they will look to crack North and West Africa this year.
Partech has released its funding report for 2021. When it comes to funding numbers on the continent, there is no single source of truth–as each Publisher makes use of a different set of methodologies. However, one thing to be optimistic about is that the gap between the numbers across board is closing (2021’s range: $4-5 billion). Partech is a formidable force when it comes to tracking funding in Africa, because of how comprehensive and historical their data is–they’ve been tracking the numbers for six years (started in 2015). Other entities tracking the numbers include Briter Intelligence, Africa: The Big Deal
Ghanaian fintech and mobile money service, Zeepay partners with Ethiopian mobile money service Telebirr owned by Ethiotelecom (the major internet and telephone service provider). The partnership will enable Zeepay facilitate seamless remittance to Ethiopia from Ethiopians in the diaspora.
PSA: When people think and talk about Africa, many times they mean sub-Saharan Africa (AKA Black Africa) because North Africa is seen as being part of the middle-east and not sharing the conventional characteristics of Black Africa. For example, in the MENA region, internet penetration is as high as 71% but in SSA it’s just 29%. That being said, for the purpose of this newsletter, we’re grouping North Africa as part of Africa. And we might re-think our stance if/when we have a Middle East Editor.
Apps democratising access to investments in Africa are common. The need to make investment options more accessible is propelled by the fact that we have a young, ambitious, and populous continent with an existing savings culture. Tiger Global, the American investment firm that invests in internet, consumer and fintech industries is well aware of the opportunity here and they will leave no stone unturned.
Digital commerce is hot in Africa. A lot of the foundational payment infrastructure has been built and now, startups are looking to compete on distribution for manufacturers, fast access for consumers and an intelligent inventory management system. For Brimore, they are leveraging the power of individual social networks (micro-distributors) to sell the manufacturers product directly to the consumers.
Insurtech startup, Casava raises $4M pre-seed: Unheard of that an African insurtech startup will raise a pre-seed round as high as $4M. Casava enables its customers to protect the things they love (including their monthly income) with a single subscription. Although, Casava is only just raising a pre-seed, they applied for their microinsurance licence in 2016.
Nigerian investment app, Bamboo takes in $15M in a new funding round: Pay attention to how many startups are slowly beginning to divorce themselves from labelling their rounds. There has been a debate about what constitutes a Seed, or Series A, as founders begin to raise $100M seed rounds. Anyway, Africa is not there yet - $100M seed round. But we are watching the global space and might as well begin to lose the naming altogether. Again, Tiger Global co-led the investment into Bamboo–Nigeria’s Thndr.
Nestcoin raises $6.45M pre-seed. Founded less than six months ago, Nestcoin is a DeFi startup leveraging blockchain technology to build, operate, and invest in crypto native products for everyday people in frontier markets. Their value of their pre-seed raise took the ecosystem by surprise. But it’s somewhat expected when you the Co-founder & CEO is an investor (Founding Partner, MicroTraction) and an operator (Ex-CEO, Bundle Africa). The startup has ambitious plans for the market and you should definitely check them out if Web3 and Crypto is your thing.
Moove raised $10M in debt finance for expansion. On top of its $23M Series A, Moove recently announced that it has raised $10M from NBK Capital Partners Mezzanine Fund II—the firm’s first investment in Africa. The automobile finance startup which is Uber’s exclusive vehicle supply partner in Africa has now raised a total of $78.2 million in just about two years.
African Venture Firm, TLcom Capital is raising $150M for its second fund. They have already secured about half of the target, $70M
Duplo raises $1.3M pre-seed to build the financial OS for B2B companies in Nigeria. Right now, the company’s core focus is on the FMCG / Retail sector. But they plan to automate payments within supply chains via APIs in other sectors soon.
Rest of Africa
When you think about the top 3 or even 5 destinations for investment in SSA, Tanzania doesn’t make the list. We have the likes of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Ghana. This context allows us to see why the fundraise of Nala is monumental.
Nala used to be a local payments company. But recently pivoted into the remittance market in 2021, thereby increasing their TAM and overall opportunity size. As a remittance player, their work is cut out for them as they compete with the likes of Chipper Cash, Sendwave, Lemonade Finance, and even newer entrants like Payday. But the CEO, Benjamin Fernandes believes that “payment across the continent is only 1% built…”.
The company eyes financial super app status (consumer-facing) like Europe’s Revolut but plans to include infrastructure in its offering. They believe this fresh injection of capital which comes about 3 years after their last raise (pre-seed) will take them closer to their fintech promise land.
Kenyan wealth-tech startup, Ndovu raises undisclosed pre-seed funding from 4DX Ventures, Future Africa, Oui Capital and Plug and Play Tech Center
Ghanaian SME-focused data and credit fintech, Oze raised $3M pre-Series A. Oze is led by Meghan McCormick who is the CEO and co-founder. Two years ago, they were a part of the Class 5 of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, alongside 19 others.
Insightful thoughts on Africa
Since YC announced its new stake and investment into its startups, I’ve seen more than 5 think-pieces on it. Some argue that it spells doom for early-stage local investors who now have to spend more to participate in funding rounds and where they can’t spend, they are locked out. This same school of people says that founders might regret it as they need these strategic Angel investors to help them navigate things like regulatory and lobbying-related issues in their local market. The more optimistic school are excited about more capital coming into the continent which gives startups a longer runway. But their optimism is countered by conversations on how much power YC will have on the said emerging markets.