Monthly Round-up; Funding In January Increased by 64.83%.

2021 kicks off with promise according to the funding deals made within January. The $161.5M from 25 deals made through the month is a very significant increase from the $95.72M across 23 deals made from January 2020. The only Debt Financing deal, $10M was raised by Nigeria’s Starsight with investments made by Finnfund and Norfund. Women led companies raised more than half of the total founding amount. 

The highlights

  • Total amount raised was $161.5M across 25 deals with $151.5M from Venture Capital and $10M from Debt Financing. This is a $98.29M increase (64.83%) from December’s $63.3M.
  • Out of the 25 total deals made, only 10 of those were undisclosed. 
  • 29.16% (7 deals out of the 24) of the deals were made by companies by women-led companies and raised $92.2M (60.82% of the total funding amount).
  • 17 of the 24 deals were by startups based in; Egypt (9 deals, $2.9M), Kenya (5 deals, $98.7M) and Nigeria (3 deals, $48.5M).
  •  The most funded sectors of the month, by amount; Emerging Technologies ($85M, 3 deals), Energy and Environment Resources ($45.5M, 2 deals) and Financial Services ($10M, 3 deals).
  • Majority of rounds raised, by number of rounds; Seed ($1.8M, 11 deals), Series A ($21M, 4 deals), Pre Series A ($4.7M, 3 deals). Following information from previous monthly round-ups, seed funding has maintained wide-based funding.
  • The highest investment was raised by Gro Intelligence, a Kenyan Emerging Technology startup. It made $85M in Series B funding which is the total of disclosed funding received from the sector. 


Here is a further breakdown of the $1M+ deals of the month.

Kenya’s Gro Intelligence, an AI-powered insights company raised $85M from Series B funding early on in the month. This money was raised by investors like Intel Africa, GGV Capital, Africa Internet Ventures, Eric Zinterhofer, DCVC. Founded in 2014, the company provides decision making tools and solutions to improve food, agriculture and climate economies. 

Daystar Power Africa, a Nigerian solar energy provider raised $38M, also from Series B funding. The amount was raised from investments by IFU, DFI, Proparco. With this funding, the company plans on widening its solar access base in West Africa. It will facilitate growth in markets like Ghana, Ivory Coast,Senegal and Togo. Daystar also expects to expand its installed power capacity from the current 23 megawatts to 100 megawatts. 

Starsight is the only company on this list that made its funding from Debt Financing. It was able to secure $10M Debt Financing from Finnfund and Norfund. This is the second round of financing the company is receiving from these investors, the first being a similar amount in 2019. The company had also signed an agreement for a 3.6 billion Naira line of credit with Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund according to this article. Founded in 2008, the company is operational in Nigeria and Ghana and hopes to increase its reach within those countries. So far, Starsight has installed solar panels on over 500 sites and a production capacity of 36 megawatts.

Nigerian application-based education platform, uLesson, raised $7.5M in Series A funding from investors; Owl Ventures, TLcom Capital Partners, Founder Collective, and Local Globe. The edtech startup sells digital curriculum to students using SD cards. It saw growth in its market following the onset of the pandemic as most students took to remote education. With an annual cost of $50, the app has already been downloaded more than a million times and is branching into live tutoring. 

Boreal Light, an Energy and Environment Resource company with offices in Kenya, also raised $7.5M in Series A funding from GreenTec Capital Partners. The company has its aim as providing affordable water treatment facilities to low income off-grid communities in Africa. One of the major projects of the company is the installation of a decentralised solar water desalination project in Eastern Africa. The funding received will make this possible. The idea is to have the projects produce more than a million liters of hygienic drinking water per day. There has already been a report of one installed in Somalia.

Nairobi-headquartered Pula raised $6M in Series A from its investors - TLcom Capital Partners and Women’s World Banking. Pula uses technology to radically restructure agricultural insurance. The company uses insurance and digital products to help small-scale farmers endure climate risks. It handles the end to end management of the delivery of insurance to farmers, including field operations, farmer onboarding/education and claims assessment and payouts. It also provides farmers with free insurance bundled with input and farmer advisory services to help increase their yields and income. 

Nigeria FinTech company Cowrywise was able to raise $3M in Pre Series A. Its investors include Quona Capital, Tsadik Foundation and Sahil Lavingia.  Cowrywise has been able to grow from 2000 users in 2018 to over 220,000 users in the present and still hopes to increase its customer base.The company plans on using the funds to offer more asset classes and onboard more fund managers. So far, the company has onboarded 20% of mutual funds in Nigeria and is making plans to onboard the remaining 80%.

Founded in early 2020, Egyptian-based FinTech Cassbana raised $1M in Pre - Seed Funding. With investors like Disruptech Ventures, the company uses AI to run a behaviour based credit-scoring system and creates financial identities for the unbanked to gain financial options with low risk of default. Cassbana hopes to use its funds to expand its scope. The company launched its service on a trial basis with one service provider but has since then managed to gain up to 20 service providers.

Nawah Scientific, an Egyptian Healthcare and Pharma Company, secured $1M in Pre - Series A funding from Egypt Ventures, Cairo Angels, Alex Angels, Alexandria Fund and Hult Alumni Angels. The company offers on-demand scientific research and analytical services to scientists, pharmaceuticals companies and different other users. With the onset of the pandemic, Nawah Scientific developed formulas for skin-friendly hand sanitizers and received a $125,000 grant to develop testing technology for Covid-19. The company also recently opened its new hub of labs that are believed to be the largest private multidisciplinary research hub in Egypt. The startup plans on using the funds received to expand into the Middle East and Africa as a whole.

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