There are only three unicorns in Africa according to a recent report by CB Insights. The report which pegs the number of unicorns in the entire world at 266, listed Nigeria's Jumia as well as South Africa's Promasidor Holdings and Cell C as the only ones from Africa.
Founded in 2012, Jumia is the most notable one among the three. The company is rumored to have gained the unicorn status after raising $326 million in funding from backers including Goldman Sachs and MTN in 2016.
TechCrunch reported that Jumia co-CEO Sacha Poignonnec confirmed that the financing brought the company's equity to €1.005bn ($1.08bn). While CB Insights pegged the company's valuation at $1.04 Billion.
Recently, Bloomberg reported that MTN - the majority stakeholder in Jumia with 40% - was considering selling its stake in the e-commerce company. And, the valuation that they were considering was still above a billion dollars.
The second unicorn on the list is Cell C, which is a Johannesburg-based telecom company founded in 2001.
The company "offers a wide range of products and services, including voice, data, and messaging services to more than 16 million customers. Products include Straight Up, Straight Up Standard, Infinity Select, SmartChat, ChatMore, MegaBonus, 99c for REAL, EasyChat, and 66c prepaid."
CB Insights pegged the company's valuation at $1 Billion with investors including Blue Label Telecoms and Net1 UEPS Technologies. Cell C joined the club on August 8, 2017, despite raising $530 Million in 2003.
Promasidor Holdings is also based in South Africa. It is a supplier of "quality, nutritional, and affordable food products in more than 30 African countries."
Founded in 1979, CB Insights pegged its valuation at $1.58 Billion with investors including IFC and Ajinomoto from Japan. Promasidor, like Jumia, joined the unicorn club two years ago on November 8, 2016.
According to CB Insights, a "unicorn company or unicorn startup is a private company with a valuation [of] over $1 billion." For its list, it put the total number of unicorns across the world at 266. These all have a combined valuation of at least $862 Billion.
Uber leads the pack with a valuation of $72 Billion and joined the club five years ago. China's Didi Chuxing ($56 Billion), Meituan Dianping ($30 Billion), Airbnb ($29.3 Billion), and Elon Musk's Space X ($21.5 Billion) crown the top five in that same order.
The unicorn status is determined in a rather subjective way and one can argue that some companies that should be included are left out while others that shouldn't be included are. For example, many believe that Nigeria's Interswitch is a unicorn. Yet it doesn't feature on the list.
But, as we are talking about the unicorns, the valuations of private companies and startups are escalating. This is leading to the creation of more and more names.
Currently, there are decacorns like Uber, which are valued at over $10 billion. But, everyone is waiting for the first hectocorn, valued at over $100 billion. Perhaps Uber will be the first to hit it.