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.
In the first half (H1) of 2019 (so far), the top 10 VC rounds raised by African startups were for a total of US $242.5 million compared to US $165.7 million in the first half of 2018 H1, a growth of 46.3%.
Using Digest Africa data about investment into African startups, we have identified the startups that are leading the VC funding board so far this year. We compared them to a similar list for funding in 2018. In this particular list, 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 many might include in their research for African startups.
Looking at the list, Andela raised the highest round so far while Nigerian ride-hailing startup Gokada, which recently raised a $5.3 million Series A, rounds off the list. Amongst countries, Nigeria has the highest representation on the list with three (3) startups and the financial services sector’s dominance seems to be waning.
1. Andela’s $100M Series D vs Zola Electric’s $55M Series D: Since the beginning of 2019, Andela has raised the highest amount of funding across Africa. In January the startup announced that it had raised a $100 million Series D round that was led by Generation Investment Management with participation from existing investors including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, Spark Capital, and CRE Venture Capital. The most recent financing brought Andela's total venture funding to $180M, making it the most capitalised venture-backed private company across Africa given that Jumia recently went public while Takealot was wholly acquired by Naspers in 2018. By the same time last year, Zola Electric had registered the highest VC funding round with $55 million in a series D round of investment that was led by Helios Investment Partners. One can not fail to notice the huge difference between the two funding figures, which is an indicator of the strong start in 2019 compared to 2018.
2. CarePay’s $45M Series A vs Cellulant’s $47.5M Series C: Kenyan mobile healthcare payments startup CarePay announced on May 14, 2019, that it had raised investment for what seemed an unusual amount for a Series A, $45 million. Per Digest Africa data, only Africa Logistics Partners and Jumia have recorded a higher or equal Series A round size. CarePay pointed out that they are looking to use their investment to expand beyond Kenya into Nigeria and Tanzania. On the other hand, its matchup from 2018 is Cellulant’s $47.5 million Series C which the Kenyan company raised in May 2018.
3. PEG Africa $25M Series C vs M-Kopa $10M: Despite the closure of Mobisol, renewable energy startups are still attracting capital. In April 2019, Ghanaian startup PEG Africa announced that it had raised a $25 million Series C from CDC Group which was joined by some of its existing lenders -.SunFunder and ResponsAbility. However, PEG Africa’s Series C was an unusual one carrying a combination of debt and equity. The debt came from CDC Group while the equity investment came from existing investors, Energy Access Ventures, Blue Haven Initiative, I&P Afrique Entrepreneurs (a fund managed by Investisseurs & Partenaires) and Acumen, as well as from new investors, Total Energy Ventures and the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP). PEG Africa’s matchup from last year is Kenya’s solar startup - M-Kopa - which raised at least $10 million in a venture round that they announced last year.
4. Payitup $13M Series A vs Africa’s Talking $8.6M Series A: Zimbabwe hasn’t recorded any significant venture funding rounds before. That is why Payitup’s $13 million Series A was quite surprising. The Harare-based payments startup secured the investment from London’s Thawer Fund Management at a $20-million valuation according to CEO Aretha Gonyora. TechZim estimates that “working backwards this gives an estimate shareholding of 35% remaining with the founders and 65% being taken up by the investor”. On the other hand, Africa’s Talking’s $8.6 million Series A came in fourth place for the year 2018.
5. RapidDeploy $12M Series A vs Swvl $8M Series A: Founded in 2014, RapidDeploy is a South African startup - which later relocated to Austin, Texas - that offers clouded aided dispatch services. The round was led by GreatPoint Ventures and Samsung NEXT. In conjunction with the funding, Ray Lane, Managing Partner at GreatPoint Ventures and former President and COO of Oracle, will join RapidDeploy’s Board of Directors. The company intends to use the funds to accelerate the development and deployment of its Cloud Aided DispatchTM platform. On the other hand, Swvl’s $8 million Series A came in at number 5 on the 2018 list.
6. mPharma $12M Series A vs Jibu $7M: A healthtech startup, mPharma is among the now most revered across the continent. In March this year, Quartz Africa reported that the six-year-old Ghanaian startup that manages prescription drug inventory for pharmacies and their suppliers is buying Kenya’s second-largest pharmacy chain, Haltons, in a fantastic deal for the African startup ecosystem. This year, it announced that it had closed a $12 million Series B led by 4DX Ventures, an Accra/San Francisco venture capital firm, and Nairobi-based Novastar Ventures. Aside from the Series B, mPharma also raised $1.5 million in grant funding from the Skoll Foundation in April this year. While Rwanda’s social enterprise, Jibu ranked 6th with its $7 million Series B in 2018.
7. Daystar Power Africa $10M Series A vs Lidya $6.9M Series B: The solar energy company announced that it raised a $10 million Series A from Persistent Energy Capital LLC as well as Verod Capital Management in March 2019. This particular round also represented Verod Capital’s final investment from its $115 million Growth Capital Fund II launched in 2014. Founded in 2017, Daystar Power Africa, a solar energy company, specialises in providing individuals as well as enterprises with efficient solar energy solutions. Operating in Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, DayStar Africa provides energy to institutions for banking, consumer goods, agriculture and manufacturing needs. The company is owned by Sunray Ventures which was founded by Christian Wessels and Jasper Graf von Hardenberg. In 2018, Nigerian fintech Lidya raised a $6.9 million Series B from Omidyar Network and a couple of other investors.
8. InstaDeep $7M Series A vs Lori Systems $6.17M: London headquartered InstaDeep, an Enterprise AI startup, announced it has raised $7 million in Series A funding. The leading pan-African private equity firm, AfricInvest, led the investment, with participation from Endeavor Catalyst, a New York-based co-investment fund under Endeavor. On the other hand, Lori Systems, a Nairobi based logistics startup with major operations across Nigeria, raised a $6.17 million Series A round that it never announced.
9. TeamApt $5.5M Series A vs Wuzzuf $6M Series B: Nigerian fintech startup TeamApt raised $5.5 million in capital in a Series A round led by Quantum Capital Partners. The Lagos based firm will use the funds to expand its white label digital finance products and pivot to consumer finance with the launch of its AptPay banking app. TeamApt, whose name is derivative of aptitude, bootstrapped its way to its Series A by generating revenue project to project working for Nigerian companies, according to CEO Eniolorunda who spoke to TechCrunch. Recruitment startup, Wuzzuf, on the other hand, raised a $6 million Series B in 2018.
10. Gokada $5.3M Series A vs. WeFarm/Terragon Group $5M Series A: Embattled with the exodus of most of its senior employees towards the end of last year as well as the beginning of this, Gokada recently 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 who was making their first investment into Africa. The funding rounds signify the coming of age of the transportation and logistics sector across Africa. The round was led by Rise Capital. Its equivalent in 2018 was Wefarm and Terragon Group which both raised $5 million in Series A rounds.
- Written with support from Kenneth Legesi, Head of Research