Last year, the US recorded over $100 billion in venture capital investment according to CB Insights report while Africa only recorded less than $1 billion per Digest Africa data. Yet, although there is still a huge gap between venture capital investment into Africa and other parts of the world, particularly the West, one can’t fail to notice that the former is on an upwards trajectory. It is also worth noting that the ticket sizes for both early venture and late venture rounds are getting bigger on average.
In this research brief, we take a look at the biggest VC rounds recorded by African startups (companies founded not more than 10 years ago) with a focus on rounds that are at least $20 million - which we are referring to as mega-rounds in this brief. Please note that we excluded rounds raised by companies that were founded before 2009.
In cases where a company raised a single round through multiple tranches i.e Series A-I and Series A-II - like Flutterwave and Paga - we combined the two to form a single round. We have also relied mostly on information that was made public for this brief.
For Jumia’s funding, we relied on data available through CrunchBase, though we classified the $150 million they raised in 2014 as a Pre-Series C instead of Series C as CrunchBase states. We excluded all investments made into Takealot by Naspers (valued at over $100 million) as most of it can be classified as Strategic Investments that led to the acquisition of the company. We therefore only considered the $100 million Series C round that they raised from Tiger Global Management.
All currencies were converted to USD using the Bloomberg Currency Converter and adjusted for the rates at the time they were announced. To understand more about our classifications, read our methodology.
There are at least 12 companies - founded in the past 10 years - that have raised at least one mega round in their lifetime. These 12 have raised a combined 18 mega-rounds with a total value of $1.3 billion from Series A through to Series D.
Jumia Group was the first African startup to raise a mega-round with a $45 million Series A in 2012 while Andela is the latest with $100 million Series D that it announced in January 2019. Jumia Group dominates the list of the most mega-rounds raised with its $400 million Series C, $150 million Pre-Series C and $150 million Series B. South African e-commerce giant Takealot - which Naspers acquired last year - as well as Andela close off the top five with $100 million each in Series C and Series D funding respectively.
E-commerce dominated the first half of the decade with Jumia, Zando, Konga and Takealot bringing in the bulk of mega-rounds. However, the latest darling for investors is fintech. In 2018, financial technology companies recorded three (3) of the five (5) mega-rounds. The year also recorded the highest venture capital deal for a fintech with Jumo’s $52 million led by Goldman Sachs. However, financial technology pales in comparison to the funding that e-commerce has attracted over time especially Jumia’s $400 million Series C.
There has also been a growing number of investors per round from an average of two (2) in 2012 to nine (9) in 2018. Flutterwave’s $20 million Series A - that it raised across two (2) tranches - has so far recorded the highest number of participants per round with 12. Nigeria dominates the list of the most number of mega-rounds raised with 11 recorded by six different startups.
Over the years
The first time an African startup raised a mega-round was in 2012 when Jumia raised a $45 million Series A from Blakeney Management, Rocket Internet and Millicom Systems. Since then, the number of mega-rounds has been on a gradual upward trend. One can not afford to ignore Jumia Group’s (formerly Africa Internet Group) influence on this trend. In each of the years that they have raised capital, the company has pulled off the largest rounds; $45 million (2012), $150 million (2013), $150 million (2014) and $400 million (2016).
Jumia Group’s $400 million Series C raised in 2016 that was led by both MTN Group and Rocket Internet still ranks as the highest venture capital round ever recorded by an African startup in the past 10 years. This is closely followed by both Jumia’s Series B and Pre-Series C that were at $150 million each raised in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Takealot’s $100 million Series C, as well as Andela’s $100 million Series D that they each raised in 2014 and 2019, respectively round off the top five.
When you look at the graph below, it seems like the size of the mega-rounds is on a decline. However, when you take out Jumia’s rounds, the data shows that on average both the number of mega-rounds and average size per round is on an upward trend. Over the past ten years, 2018 recorded the highest number of mega-rounds - with five (5) with an average amount per mega-round of $30 million.
These included; Flutterwave’s close of Series A at $20 million, Paga’s close of its Series B at $23 million, Jumo’s $52 million Goldman Sachs led Series C, Zola Electric’s $55 million Series D as well as Swvl’s Series B that was estimated to be at least $30 million. In 2019, Andela is the first and only company (so far) to raise a mega-round with a $100 million Series D.
In comparison to other years, 2017 recorded only one (1) mega-round while 2016 recorded only two (2) mega-rounds and 2015 recorded only three (3) mega-rounds. In 2019, one (1) mega-round has been recorded so far with Andela raising $100 million in Series D funding.
From 2012 to 2015, E-commerce was the undeniable king of pulling in mega-rounds - thanks to Jumia Group, Zando, Takealot and Konga. Amongst the four - in a period of three years - over $855 million was raised in 8 different mega-rounds. (Zando is another e-commerce player that pulled in a mega-round in that period, although - according to Rocket Internet - the venture is treated as a South African subsidiary of Jumia Group)
All the above e-commerce players have either achieved an exit or actively seeking one. Takealot was finally acquired by Naspers in 2018 while Konga was also acquired by Zinox Technologies and merged with its off-line operations of Yudala. Though, there are speculations that the e-commerce player might list either on the New York Stock Exchange or the London Stock Exchange before the close of 2020. It has also been reported that Jumia Group might also list before the close of 2019 as MTN Group - the venture’s majority stakeholder - seeks an exit.
Over time, e-commerce has lost its position as the sector which attracts mega-rounds to the financial technology sector. Although financial technology companies haven’t raised funding in the figures to the tune of Konga, Jumia and Takealot, the sector’s number of mega-rounds has been steadily growing both in magnitude and frequency. Last year, of the five mega-rounds, three involved financial services companies; Flutterwave ($20 million), Paga ($23 million) and Jumo ($52 million).
However, e-commerce, although with declining influence, still holds the biggest mega-rounds recorded; Jumia’s $400 million Series C, for example, is the biggest round ever recorded by a company founded in the past 10 years. To date, Jumo’s $52 million is the biggest VC funding for any financial technology startup across Africa while Zola Electric’s $55 million Series D is the largest for an Energy company. Swvl’s $30 million Series B is the largest for a transport and logistics startup.
Nigeria has the highest number of mega-rounds with 11 of the 18 recorded. This is because the country - per our classification - is home to companies like Andela, Jumia and Konga who have each raised at least two mega-rounds. (It is important to note that, according to reports from Rocket Internet, Zando is taken as a Jumia Group subsidiary though run independently).
One would expect Kenya to make an appearance on the list due to big names like M-Kopa as well as Cellulant. However, most of the funding that M-Kopa has raised over the past 10 years hasn’t been through venture capital while Cellulant falls outside the criteria of companies that were founded not more than 10 years ago as it was founded in 2004.
Jumia has the record for the biggest mega-round for each round from Series A to Series C. The e-commerce giant was the first to raise a mega-round with its $45 million Series A in 2012. To date, this is the biggest Series A round raised by an African startup while its $150 million Series B is the highest Series B round and its $400 million Series C is the highest Series C. Andela, which raised $100 million Series D early this year holds the record for the highest Series D round, although Jumia’s Series C dwarfs it.
Investors per round
The number of investors involved in each mega-round has been steadily growing over time. In 2012, there was an average of two investors per round. This figure rose to an average of nine (9) investors per funding round by close of 2018. Flutterwave’s $20 million Series A that it raised across two different tranches has the highest number of investors with 12. This reflects can be a reflection of two things; the growing interest of VCs into the continent or a lack of sufficient deals leading to overcrowding in the few that are existent.
Most of the companies that have raised funding were founded in 2012 (four) followed by those that were founded in 2014 (two). What this implies is that it is becoming easier for non-e-commerce companies to raise funding.