Digest Africa Top 50 2021: The Most Influential People In The African Startup Ecosystem(40-31)

At Digest Africa, we set out to compile, list, and profile the most influential people in the African ecosystem. You can read about our methodology and overview of our research here. In a five-part series, we will profile all 50 with 10 being profiled in each publication. You can read up on our first publication of 50-41 here. This is our second publication of those from 40-31 that made our list.

40. Kareem Jouini 

Country: Tunisia

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since: 2014

Known For: Expensya

Kareem Jouini is the founder and CEO of Expensya, a unified business spends management solution, for companies worldwide. It has web and API-based tools that businesses of all sizes can use to file expense reports and upload invoices among others. Expensya has over 5,000 customers from large corporations and Small Medium-sized enterprises to freelancers. It is Tunisia’s most funded startup having raised $24.5m in two funding rounds. 

39. Mbwana Alliy

Country: Tanzania

Designation: Venture Capital

Active Since:2012

Known For: Savannah Fund, Ubongo

A graduate from the prestigious Stanford Graduate School of Business, Mbwana is the managing partner at one of East Africa’s most storied early VC firms, Savannah Fund. It specializes in seed capital investments writing checks of $25,000-$500,000 in early-stage high growth technology startups in Sub-Saharan Africa. It announced a new $25m fund this year. Its portfolio companies have gone on to raise over $100m. Its investment portfolio includes Kenyan edtech Moringa School, Kenyan logistics startup Sendy, South African AI startup Aerobotics, Nigerian credit startup Lidya, South African car subscription startup FlexClub, and Uganda’s mobile app and game development studio Kola Studios. Mbwana is also the board chairman of Ubongo, an animated production media non-profit organization producing kids content for Africa based in Tanzania, and JUMO, a South African fintech. 

38. Kevin Gormand

Country: Morocco

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since: 2010

Known For: Mubawab

Gormand is the founder and CEO of Mubawab, the real estate portal that operates in Morocco and Tunisia. Visitors to the website can buy, sell and rent out their properties. It has 3m monthly visitors and was acquired by the Emerging Markets Property Group, the owners of similar platforms Bayut in UAE and Zameen in Pakistan. Mubawab is Morocco’s most funded startup. It has raised two corporate rounds from its parent company valued at $17.9m

37. Keller C. Rinaudo 

Country: Rwanda

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since: 2011

Known For: Zipline

Keller is a robotics and autonomous airplane entrepreneur who is the CEO and founder of Zipline, a drone deliveries startup that operates in Rwanda, Ghana, and Nigeria. It started operations in Rwanda in 2016, primarily delivering blood to urgent medical situations. It also delivered platelets and fresh frozen plasma. By May 2019, more than 65% of blood deliveries in Rwanda outside the capital city Kigali were being delivered by Zipline. It also expanded to Ghana delivering vaccines, blood, and drugs and signed contracts to do the same with the governments of Kaduna and Cross River States in Nigeria. Zipline has raised about $483m including a $250m Series E in July 2021 from existing investors Fidelity, Intercop, Emerging Capital Partners, and Reinvent Capital. New investors included Baillie Gifford, Temasek, and Katalyst Ventures. 

36. Tayo Oviosu

Country: Nigeria 

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since:2009

Known For: Paga

Tayo is the founder and CEO of Paga, a mobile payment company that enables 9m Nigerians to send and receive money digitally using its 17,000 strong agent network. The company has been well funded, raising $32.7m across 4 funding rounds. Some of the investors in Paga include Omidyar Network, Tim Draper, Goodwell Investments, and Capricorn Investment Group among others. It acquired Ethiopian software development company, Apposit, as it prepares to launch in Ethiopia. It also plans to launch in Mexico as its first stop outside Africa. Before starting Paga, Tayo served as Manager of Corporate Development at Cisco Systems and was Vice president at Travant Capital Partners. 

35. Olugbenga Agboola

Country: Nigeria

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since:2016

Known For: Flutterwave

 Olugbenga has a very strong CV when it comes to the finance world. He worked at global payment powerhouse, PayPal before working at various Nigerian banks that included Sterling Bank, GT Bank, Standard Bank Nigeria, and Access Bank Plc. In 2016, he founded Flutterwave alongside another member of our list, Iyinoluwa Ayaboyeji. Flutterwave is a payments technology startup that builds infrastructure which enables African businesses to receive and make any payments across the continent and globally. It is the payment partner of Uber, Facebook, Airbnb among others in Africa. He became CEO of the startup in 2018. Flutterwave became Africa’s 4th unicorn in March 2021 after it raised a $170m Series C at a valuation of over $1bn. 

34. Ahmed el Alfi

Country: Egypt

Designation: Venture Capital 

Active Since: 2010

Known For: GrEEk Campus, Sawari Ventures, Flat6Labs

Ahmed el Alfi is the founder of GrEEk campus, Egypt’s largest technology and innovation park that offers state of art office spaces for both startups and already established companies. He is also a founder at Sawari Ventures, one of Egypt’s biggest indigenous VC Firms. It closed a new $71m fund in April 2021 after closing $41m in 2018. Sawari Ventures has invested in mobility startup SWVL, robotics startup Si-Ware Systems, online grocery startup Goodsmart, etc. 

Ahmed also founded Flat6Labs, one of the leading accelerator programs in the MENA region operating in both Egypt and Tunisia. Startups like software startup Instabug, a health tech startup Chefaa, retail-tech startup BriMore, and transportation startup WeMove have graduated from this program and gone on to raised follow on funding. 

33. Odunayo Eweniyi

Country: Nigeria

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since:2016

Known For: Piggyvest, FirstCheck Africa

 Odunayo is the co-founder and COO of Piggyvest, a startup that helps individuals and businesses to manage their finances effectively. Users can choose to save little amounts daily, weekly, or monthly automatically from their debit card towards a saving target. Piggyvest has over 53,000 users and over $5m has been saved by users since 2016. In 2021, Odunayo joined hands with Eloho Omame, to start FirstCheck Africa, an early VC fund that invests in startups led by women. She has been featured widely and recognized in the media. In 2021, she was named in Time Magazine’s Time100Next while Bloomberg listed her among the 50 people in 2020 that were changing the business landscape. 

32. Maxime Dieudonne

Country: Uganda

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since:2013

Known For: Safeboda

After working at Deloitte and One Acre Fund, a non-profit organization that supplies smallholder farmers in East Africa with asset-based financing and agriculture training, Maxime founded Safeboda alongside Alastair Sussock and Rapa Ricky Thomson. Safeboda is a ride-hailing company that identifies as a community of professional, equipped, trained motorcycle taxi drivers that offer a safer travel experience to passengers. Safeboda started in Uganda but has since expanded to Nigeria and Kenya. It is also on its way to becoming a super app with services like deliveries, e-commerce, and financial services. 

31. Andrea Bohmert

Country: South Africa

Designation: Venture Capital

Active Since: 2011

Known For: Knife Capital, Grindstone

Andrea is a partner at Knife Capital, an independent growth equity investment firm that focuses on innovation-driven ventures with proven traction. It has made investments in the likes of retail startup Pura Soda, AI startup Data Prophet, edtech Skillup Tutors, and health tech Pharma Scout. She also serves as the executive chairman of DataProphet. In February 2021, Knife Capital raised a $50m fund for startups looking to raise Series B in Africa. This was its third fund. It has gained significant exits from its portfolio after Visa acquired fintech startup Fundamo and OrderTalk’s acquisition by UberEats. Andrea runs Grindstone as well. Grindstone is a growth accelerator that assists post revenue high growth tech-enabled enabled companies to solve problems to scale up and accelerate strategy execution. 


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