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Going by the first half of 2019, African startups are raising VC funding at an unprecedented rate. Unlike in the past where large venture capital funding rounds into the continent depended on a few companies - take an example of Jumia and Takealot - this year, not only are the sizes of the funding rounds going up but so is the number of startups that are raking in that funding.
Using Digest Africa data, we have identified the 15 startups that led the funding board in H1 2019. We compared them to similar startups that led the funding board in H1 2018. In this particular list, per our methodology, we only included startups that are either headquartered in Africa, have Africa as their only/primary market or are incorporated in Africa. That is why we excluded companies like Branch International that others might include in their research.
In summary, the first half (H1) of 2019, the top 15 VC funding rounds raised by African startups totaled to $286.3 million compared to $175.47 million in H1 2018 indicating a growth of 62%. Looking at the list, Andela raised the biggest round while Ghana-based energy company PEG Africa, which closed a $5 million Series A, rounds off the list.
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1. Andela’s [$100M] vs Zola Electric [$55M]
In January 2019, Andela raised $100 million in a Series D round led by Generation Investment Management with participation from existing investors including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, Spark Capital, and CRE Venture Capital. This massive round, one of the biggest that the continent has recorded in the past 10 years, is almost double that of Zola Electric’s $55 million Series D that was raised in January 2018, led by GE Ventures and Helios Investment Partners.
2. CarePay [$45M] vs Cellulant [$47.5M]
Kenyan healthcare startup, CarePay, in May 2019 raised a huge Series A round amounting to $45 million from Elma Investments, IFHA, and PharmAccess Foundation that was to be used to expand its operations into Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. CarePay’s 2018 match is another Kenyan financial service platform Cellulant which raised $47.5 million in May in a Series C round involving Endeavor Ventures, Progression Capital Africa, Satya Capital, TPG Capital, and Velocity Capital.
3. Swvl [$42M] vs M-Kopa [$10M]
In June 2019, Egyptian ride-hailing startup Swvl raised $42 million in a Series C round, the country’s largest-ever funding round for any startup. Notable investors in the round included BECO Capital, DASH Ventures, Endeavor Ventures and MSA Capital. This round was significantly higher compared to 2018’s third-highest round of $10 million which Kenyan energy & resources startup M-Kopa raised from CDC Group, Generation Investment Management, and LGT Venture Philanthropy.
4. PayItUp [$13M] vs Africa’s Talking [$8.6M]
Zimbabwean financial services startup PayItUp raised $13 million in a Series A round led by Thawer Fund Management in May this year. The round is the highest venture capital round for any Zimbabwe startup. Golix which raised $23 million in 2018 did so through an ICO. On the other hand, Kenyan software services platform Africa’s Talking raised an $8.6 million Series A round led by International Finance Corporation with participation from Orange Digital Ventures and Social Capital.
5. mPharma [$12M] vs Jibu [$7M]
Another major funding round earlier on this year was by Ghanaian healthcare and pharma startup mPharma which raised a $12 million Series B round led by 4DX Ventures and Novastar Ventures. mPharma used part of the funds raised to enter the East African healthcare market by acquiring one of Kenya’s leading pharmaceutical chain Haltons. In 2018, Nigeria's Lidya raised a $6.9 million Series A from Accion Venture Lab, Alitheia Capital, Bamboo Capital Partners, Flourish Ventures, Newid Capital, and Tekton Ventures.
6. RapidDeploy [$12M] vs Swvl [$8M]
South African SaaS platform RapidDeploy raised a $12 million Series A in February 2019 from GreatPoint Ventures and Samsung NEXT. The startup plans to channel the funds towards accelerating the development and deployment of their Cloud Aided DispatchTM platform. On the other hand, Egypt’s Swvl, which was trying to make its mark within the ride-hailing market, closed an $8 million Series A round from Arzan Venture Capital, BECO Capital, and DiGAME in 2018. At the time, this was the largest-ever startup funding round for any Egyptian startup.
7. Daystar Power Africa [$10M] vs Lidya [$6.9M]
The energy and resources startup Daystar Power Africa, serving Ghanaian and Nigerian markets, raised $10 million from Verod Capital Management and Persistent Energy Capital. It also closed an additional $16 million in debt financing from the same investors. Jibu, on the 2018 list, raised $7 million in a Series B round from Asia Africa Investment Consulting, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Danone Communities, Maclellan Foundation, NRD Capital, Segal Family Foundation, and Stone Family Foundation.
8. Arnergy [$9M] vs Lori Systems [$6.17M]
Lagos-based solar energy startup Arnergy raised a $9 million Series A round to fund its commercial growth with new business models, improve on partnership avenues, and expand its activities. The round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, while Shell-funded All On Energy, the European Union-backed ElectriFI and the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund) participated in the capital injection. Last year, Kenyan transport and logistics startup Lori Systems went head and raised a $6.17 million Series A round from undisclosed investors, according to its Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
9. Lori Systems [$8.7M] vs Wuzzuf [$6M]
In May this year, a filing with the SEC indicated that Lori Systems had raised $8.7 million in its Series B from a group of undisclosed investors. This raise made Lori Systems the second most funded transport and logistics startup across the continent with close to $15 million in venture funding per Digest Africa data. In 2018, recruitment startup, Wuzzuf (owned by BasharSoft) closed a $6 million Series B from the European Bank for reconstruction and development, Endure Capital, A15, 500 Startups as well as other investors.
10. InstaDeep’s [$7M] vs Terragon Group / Wefarm [$5M]
Tunisia’s Artificial Intelligence startup InstaDeep raised $7 million over a Series A round in May this year involving AfricInvest and Endeavor Catalyst to expand its AI opportunities across Africa. In the same spot last year, agtech startup WeFarm had raised $5 million in a seed round led by Silicon-Valley based True Ventures, and including follow on investment from LocalGlobe and Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV).
11. Lulalend [$6M] vs mSurvey [$3.5M]
South African digital lender Lulalend raised a $6.5 million Series A round co-led by IFC and Quona Capital in June to build its tech and data team and improve its ability to reach more SMEs in South Africa, according to CEO Trevor Gosling—who co-founded the startup in 2014 with Neil Welman. On the other hand, in April 2018, Kenya’s mSurvery announced that it had raised a $3.5 Series A round led by TLcom Capital. Other investors who participated in the round include Net Promoter Score (NPS) co-founder Richard Owen, Golden Palm, Kapor Capital, and Social Capital.
12. Kudi [$5.8M] vs Trade Depot / Little Cab / Jumo [$3M]
Founded by Yinka Adewale and Pelumi Aboluwarin in 2016, Kudi enables underbanked and unbanked Nigerians to access basic financial services such as money transfers, bill payments, and cash withdrawals through its agent network. In April this year, the startup closed a $5.8 million Series A as per their SEC filing that was led by Partech. The startup pointed out that it was looking to leverage the funding to add to its team, grow the agent network across Nigeria as well as launch other financial services in partnership with banks and other fintechs.
13. TeamApt’s [$5.5] vs CoinAfrique [$2.8M]
In February this year, Nigerian fintech startup TeamApt raised $5.5 million in a Series A round led by Lagos-based based Quantum Capital Partners. The startup raised the funds to expand its white label digital finance products and pivot to consumer finance with the launch of its AptPay banking app.
14. Gokada [$5.3M]
Embattled with the exodus of most of its senior employees towards the end of last year as well as the beginning of 2019, Gokada announced that it raised a $5.3 million Series A. This particular round of funding for Gokada came on the back of Uganda’s SafeBoda securing an undisclosed Series B from Allianz X and Go-Jek's GO-Ventures who were making their first investment into an African startup. The funding rounds signify the coming of age of the transportation and logistics sector across Africa. The round was led by Rise Capital.
15. PEG Africa [$5M]
Pay-as-you-go solar company PEG Africa raised a $25-million in funding in March this year. However, of the $25 million, only $5 million came in as equity investment with the $20 million being debt. The company pointed out that it was looking to use the funding for off-grid solar expansion in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Senegal.
Note: Where two startups raised the same amount, we ranked based on the alphabetical order. This is an update of an earlier version published towards the end of May.