It is normal for a startup to embark on rapid scaling immediately after raising funding. That unfounded rule is applying to Kenya’s API platform, Africa’s Talking, that recently raised around $8.6 Million.
The company has been operating in 6 African countries; Kenya, Uganda (recently expanded), Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
However, when they closed the recent round of funding, expansion became top of their radar. The company stated that they were looking at 20 African countries by close of 2019.
Last week, I learned that the company is now looking to move into 6 African countries at once with much of the emphasis placed on West African countries.
When I contacted Sally Kuria, Africa’s Talking’s Communication Lead, she confirmed it.
“Currently we have started the process of establishing a presence in 6 new countries,” she wrote in an email. It is not clear which countries in particular given Sally declined to reveal the specific details of the expansion.
“I don’t think I’m at the liberty to disclose which ones these are or how far we have gotten to getting them up and running,” she wrote.
However, from an individual that I believe is very familiar with the matter, the company is finalizing the incorporation process and hiring in The Gambia and Ivory Coast.
The other countries that the company is eyeing – according to that person – are Botswana, Ethiopia, and Senegal.
Usually, the company has always started operations with around two people in every new market they go to. For example, to set up the Ugandan office, they hired Norma Atamba and Nicholas Kamanzi. Who were the only employees until early this year.
“Previously, whenever we set up a presence in a new country, we would hire at least two people to get it up and running,” Sally wrote.
However, according to Sally, they are not sure how many people they’ll now hire per country. Because they are in new territories.
“We are a bit more intentional with expansion and working with different models to experiment with and one of the variables is how many people to hire,” she wrote. Adding that currently, “the definite answer” to how whether they will continue with hiring two people per country is no.
Africa’s Talking interest in West Africa – especially Francophone – must be heavily influenced by telecom company Orange. Not only was the company an investor in Africa’s Talking’s last round, it is the leading teleco in those markets.
A market “which can seem a bit foreign” to Africa’s Talking as Sally said. Hence the need for them as expansion partners.
She also noted that they “share this goal with them” and “developers can [also] build amazing solutions with access to the right infrastructure [from Orange]”.
“Partnering with them on this will help us navigate this markets wisely and be the best infrastructure partner for developers in this countries.”