Ghana is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies with an annual growth rate of 6.5%. It has a GDP of $73bn, which makes it the 8th largest economy in Africa. Outside of the traditional big four startup markets of Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt, Ghana can lay claim to the title of best of the rest in Africa, according to Venture Capital for Africa(VC4A).
The country's population is 31m people of which 57% are below the age of 24. Ghana has close to 15m internet users and has the highest mobile penetration rate in Sub-Saharan Africa at 130%. There are more mobile phones in Ghana than there are people. Of these 15m are smartphone devices.
Ghana has a pool of talented graduates that propel technology forward. The standout tertiary institutions include Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Ghana, and Ashesi University, which was founded by early Microsoft employee Patrick Awuah.
According to the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator, Ghana has more than 25 hubs and accelerators that foster entrepreneurship and the growth of startups. The most successful ones are Meltwater Entrepreneurship School of Technology (MEST), iSpace, Impact Hub Accra, GiZ, Stanford SEED, Kosmos Innovation Centre, Ghana Tech Lab, and Hacklab Foundation. Unlike most countries, the startup ecosystem is more decentralized. Cities like Kumasi (Kumasi Hive), Tamale (HoPin Academy), and Takoradi(HoNode) are well represented with hubs.
There is a sizable pool of investors in Ghana. The majority of them offer early-stage startups the capital they need to launch through grants, debt financing, and equity. The investor activity has been split at Seed/Pre-seed (number of deals, Value) and Series A+ (number of deals, Value). Some of the more active investors include the Accra Angels Network which offers cash injections of $25,000- $250,000 from high net worth individuals while Stanbic Bank offers no cap loans to qualifying startups with a 5-year repayment limit. Chanzo Capital is a scale venture capital firm that offers $500,000-$5,000,000 from Series A to C. Another VC firm active in Ghana is Ingressive Capital that invests in seed to preserve tech-enabled companies writing checks of $100,000- $200,000.
Ghana ranks 118 out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of doing business index ahead of some economic powerhouses like Nigeria(131). The government has ensured political stability in Ghana and also a relatively strong democratic process of electing leaders. Ghana ranks lowly (80th out 180) on Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index.
The government has aggressively supported startups through its Presidential Business Support Programme that was launched in 2017 by Nana Akuffo Addo. One of its flagship programs is the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme( NIEP) which provides support for startups and small businesses like incubators and funding. Each startup receives between 5,000 Ghana cedis ($900) to 50,000 Ghana Cedis($9,000) loans at 10% annual interest to grow their business and create more jobs. Within two windows, this program had supported 19,000 businesses and created 90,000 jobs already.
The government also launched a special $20m fund for startups in 2019. This was announced by the Minister for Business Development, Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Awal, who challenged entrepreneurs to apply. The Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS) was also launched to provide financial support to the startups, medium-sized and small businesses in Ghana on how to handle the economic and financial hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ghana had an ambitious project of connecting 95% of the population to the internet by the end of last year. It launched 5 submarine fiber optic cables to meet this goal which failed due to disruptions caused by the COVID19 crisis. It also launched a universal QR Code in 2019 in an effort to make Ghana a cashless society. All these efforts, coupled with the fact that Ghana is a very stable country politically (it has had 7 peaceful elections in a row), make it a very attractive country for investment. This was further solidified last month when Twitter chose the Ghanaian capital, Accra, as the location of its African office.
The 10 Most Funded Startups in Ghana
Using data from Digest Africa, startups in Ghana raised $117m overall in 108 deals. Of these, grants (40) and Seed rounds (40) were the most common. The two of them contributed 74% of all deals (37% each). Debt financing (10 deals, 9%) and Pre-seed (9 deals, 8%) followed. There were only 2 Series A, B, and C and a sole Pre-series A.
The 10 most funded startups in Ghana have raised a total of $110m of the $117m (94%) that startups in Ghana have raised overall in 29 deals which is an average of $11m per startup. Of the 29 deals, there were 9 seed rounds(31%), 7 debt financing rounds(24%), 4 grants (14%), and 2 Series A, B, and C each. There was also 1 Undisclosed Deal, Pre-series A, and a pre-seed.
The top two PEG Africa ($57m) and MPharma ($42m) have raised 89% ($99m) of the total $110m. The most funded sector by a number of startups in the top 10 is agriculture that is represented by 3 startups (Esoko, AgroCenta, and Moringa Connect), but they represent just $5m (4.5%) of the $110m total. The most funded sectors by the amount of money invested are Energy and Resource( 2 startups, $58m) and Healthcare and Pharma (2 startups, $44m). Almost all the funding rounds reported here are financed by a different set of investors. The only investor that has invested in more than two startups is CDC Group which participated in PEG Africa’s two debt financing rounds of $20m in March 2019 and $4m in November 2020. It also participated in mPharma’s $17m Series C in May 2020.
Here is a list of the 10 most funded startups in Ghana
1.PEG Africa ($56.54m)
PEG Africa is an energy and resource startup that provides financing and deploying solar power to households that do not have access to the electrical grid in Ghana and other West African countries like Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. PEG Africa raised its first round of financing, a Series A, in June 2016. Energy Access Ventures, Blue Haven Initiative, Investisseurs Et Partenaires, and Engie were some of the investors that subscribed to this $7.5m round. The same investors returned for PEG Africa’s $13.5m Series B in October 2017 but were joined by Acumen and PCG Investments.
PEG raised its first of four debt financing rounds in November 2018 when SunFunder and Oikocredit International put in $1.5m. The next round of financing arrived on March 20.2019 which was a $5m Series C. Among the investors in this round were Energy Access Ventures, Blue Haven Initiative, Invesstisseurs et Partenaires, Acumen, Total Energy Ventures, and the Renewable Energy Performance Platform(REPP)).
The second debt financing was a huge $20m round on March 20th, 2019 funded by CDC Group, ResponsAbility, and SunFunder. The next debt financing round was in September 2019 which was $5m. It was solely financed by the Electrification Financing Initiative. The final debt financing round arrived in October 2019 with $4m from CDC Group, SunFunder, and ResponsAbility. In November 2020, PEG got its first and only grant, $40,000 from Ashden and the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program.
mPharma is a health tech that manages prescription drug inventory for pharmacies and other suppliers. The startup improves the efficiency of pharmaceutical supply chains in African countries. It has a proprietary vendor management inventory system that is already being used in over 250 pharmacies in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
mPharma has raised 5 rounds of financing so far. The first round was a $5m seed round in January 2016 from Golden Palm Investments Holding Company, Olive Tree Ventures, and Social Capital. Its next round of financing was in December 2017, a Series A of $6.6m. Investors in this round include 4DX Ventures, Breyer Capital, Social Capital, Shravin Bharti Mittal, and Golden Palm Investment Holding Company.
It had a $12m Series B in March 2019 from the returning 4DX Ventures and new investors Unbound Ventures and Novastar Ventures. This was quickly followed by a $1.5m grant in April 2019 from the Skoll Foundation. It's final financing round to date was a $17m Series C in May 2020. Investors in this round included CDC Group, Dr. Daniel Vasella, Jim Breyer, and Dompe Holdings.
Esoko is an agricultural profiling and text messaging service. Individuals, agribusinesses, and government projects use Esoko to collect and get market data through texts on their phones. This market data includes real-time information about market pricing, 3-day weather forecasts, agriculture tips, and techniques.
Esoko currently serves 1m farmers with half of them being in Ghana and the other half in 19 African countries. It raised an undisclosed $1.25m round of financing from International Finance Corporation and the Soros Economic Development Fund in November 2010. In August 2016, it also received a grant worth $868,000 from Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
AgroCenta is an online platform that connects small Holder farmers to buyers and financing(both formal and informal) using its cropchain and Credit platforms. It was funded by two ex Esoko employees Francis Obirikorang and Micheal K Ocansey in 2015.
AgroCenta claims to increase crop yields for farmers by 40% and income by 35%. In January 2021, it raised a Pre-Series A round of $790,000 from Shell Foundation, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), AV Ventures, and Rabo Foundation. But before that, it raised a $650,000 seed round in December 2018 from GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator and Seedstars. Seedstars had also financed AgroCenta with $500,000 in April 2018.
5.Redbird Health Tech ($1.79M)
Redbird Health Tech is a startup that offers convenient health monitoring for patients with chronic diseases by partnering with pharmacies to bring rapid test technology giving the patients a convenient way to monitor their health wherever they are.
RedBird Health has over 350 partner pharmacies, 35,000 registered patients, and 250,000 health insights. It has raised financing three times; a seed round in July 2018 worth $250,000 from GMC CoLABS, a $40,000 seed round from Founders Factory Africa in March 2020, and another seed round worth $1.5m in March 2021 from Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Newtown Partners and the returning Founders Factory Africa.
OZE is a mobile app that helps small businesses record their sales, expenses, payable, and receivables. OZE then uses this data to aggregate specific recommendations and reports. Through a partnership with Fidelity Bank Ghana, it also helps to source small business loans for these businesses. OZE has over 25,000 registered users in Ghana.
OZE raised a $655,000 pre-seed round in July 2018 from MEST Africa and Ingressive Capital. It got a further seed investment from MEST ($50,000) and Microsoft($25,000) in June 2019. In January 2021, Anatolia Ventures, Matuca Sarl, Nigeria’s Rising Tide Africa, and the returning pair of MEST and Ingressive Capital backed the company’s seed round of $700,000.
7.Moringa Connect ($1.395M)
This agri-tech connects small-scale farmers in Ghana to markets all over the world for moringa-powered products. It has raised the following financing rounds; $90,000 grant from Echoing Green in June 2014, $750,000 seed in June 2016 from VestedWorld, an $80,000 debt financing round from MCE Social Capital in March 2018, and another $50,000 debt financing in August 2018 from KIVA. Its last financing round was a debt financing round in April 2019 from MCE Social Capital and the United States Agency For International Development.
8.Omg Digital ($1.22M)
Dubbed the Buzzfeed of Africa, OMG Digital is a media company that creates digital content for African millennials. Its various platforms attract 4.5m unique visitors each month.
It raised its first round of financing in April 2016, a $120,000 seed round from Y Combinator. In June 2017, it added another seed round worth $1.1m from investors such as Will Sternlicht, Soma Capital, Social Capital, M & Y Growth Partners, Kima Ventures, Josh Buckley, Francis Xavier Helgesen, and Comcast Ventures.
ZeePay is a fintech platform that focuses on digital rails that connect digital assets such as mobile money wallets, ATMs, bank accounts, and digital tokens. It facilitates a host of services like international money transfers, payments, subscriptions, and airtime purchases. ZeePay processed 2.4m transactions valued at $400m across 10 markets in 2020. It recently acquired a 51% stake in Zambian mobile money startup, Mangwee. It raised a $940,000 seed round from GoodSoil VC in December 2020.
Redavia is an industry leader in solar power. Its system is based on a pre-configured model including hi-Performance solar modules and components. Businesses benefit from its cost-effective, reliable, and clean energy solution with minimal upfront investment. Last year, it introduced the COVID19 resilience Lease which provides customers with solar power plants for 6 months completely free of charge. It had debt financing worth $898,700 in April 2021 from Trine, a Nordic Investment company.
Digest Africa is a leading provider of data and insights on investment into African startups that investors, corporations, researchers, banks, and startups can use to make meaningful decisions. We have a database encompassing;
- Over 1,400 venture capital deals for companies raising funding over the past 5 years
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- Over 400 investor profiles
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