Monthly Round Up: March Closes Out A Productive First Quarter

March brought with it an increase in funding, closing out a highly productive first quarter.  In comparison to Q1 2020, this quarter was highly productive with startups raising $669.4M compared to the $350M of Q1 2020. For the month of March, there was a total of $255.7M raised across 48 deals in the month of March. Out of this, a huge percentage of what was raised was from venture capital in 33 rounds. March 2021 saw companies raise $3.5M (1.3%) more funding than February 2021 which recorded $252.2M across 48 deals.

Below are key takeaways of funding trends of March:    

Key Takeaways: 

  • Most Funded Country:  Nigerian startups received the highest amount of funding with $202.3M. The largest being Flutterwave’s $170M Series C funding. 
  • Most Funded Sector: By deal count and value: Financial Services (17 deals, $231.6M).
  • Most Funded Stages: By deal count: Seed(15 deals), Pre-seed (12 deals). By deal value: Series C ($170M deal), Series A ($28.6M). However, the Undisclosed rounds presented the highest value ($118M, 2 deals).

Here is a breakdown of the top 10 funding rounds for the period in order of amount:

Flutterwave had the highest amount of funds raised in this month, with $170M, the highest deal of 2021 so far. The Series C funding round was led by private investment firm, Avenir Growth Capital, and investment firm, Tiger Global Management. New/Existing investors who participated in this round include:  Early Capital Berrywood, DST Global, Greycroft Capital, Insight Partners, Green Visor Capital, Salesforce Ventures,  9yards Capital, and Worldpay FIS. In January 2020, Flutterwave also recorded a $35M Series B funding round led by  Venture Capital Firm, Greycroft and a Series A $20M In 2018. Flutterwave has raised $225M in total and is one of the few African startups to have managed to secure more than $200 million in funding.

On March 18th 2021, Challenger bank, Kudabank, announced that it had raised $25M. This funding will make huge advances in pulling in clients by providing more modern, user-friendly tools to manage their money. The company offers mobile-first banking services in Nigeria, and this Series A funding was led by a firm co-founded by Peter Thiel, Valar Ventures, together with Target Global and other unnamed investors. 

South African payments solution provider, Adumo landed $15M in preferred shares from International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group. It also secured part of the investment from IFC’s Financial Institutions Growth Fund – a fund managed by IFC’s asset management company. The start-up mainly targets small and medium-sized businesses with payments solutions and it will use the fresh funding to offer new payment solutions, as well as “purpose-based” lending services – to both consumers and retailers.

Mubawab received a $10M cash injection to speed up its expansion and develop its technology. The start-up was founded in 2011 by it’s current CEO, Kevin Gormand. Mubawab allows sellers and landlords to advertise their properties in Morocco and Tunisia. It currently has over two million visits to its site per month and 150,000 properties listed. Last January, the company secured $7M in funding from real estate-focused firm Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG). The startup has had a strong past year, and is now expected to add 200 new employees and develop an in-house research and development department.

FlexClub, South African car subscription marketplace, added a further $5M in equity and debt funding to the $1.2M Seed funding it raised in 2019 to help it scale. FlexClub was founded in 2018 and it basically essentially allows users to purchase vehicles which are then matched with Uber drivers who pay a weekly rental charge to the investor. This funding round was led by Kindred Ventures which were early backers of global technology businesses such as Uber, Postmates, Virgin Hyperloop and Coinbase. Prominent investors such as the founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg;  COO of KAVAK, Federico Ranero; Tariq Zaid; and Ron Pragides, have also invested in the start-up.

Egyptian restaurant engagement platform, Koinz, raised $4.8M in a seed round. The round was led by Justin Mateen, the founder and former CMO of leading global dating app Tinder who will be joining Koinz board as a result of the transaction. The round also includes participation of Africa-focused VC, 4DX Ventures, and angel investors from Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi. Koinz was founded in 2018 by Ahmed Said, Abdullah Al Khalidi, and Hussein Momtaz. It is a customer acquisition and retention platform for restaurants. The consumer app lists restaurants and enables users to discover restaurants and order delivery or take outs from them. As the users place orders, they earn loyalty points that they can then redeem at the same restaurant.

Uganda’s Tugende announced that it had closed $3.6M in a Series A extension round. This follows the $6.3M raised in November 2020 which was led by Mobility 54. This brings Tugende’s total Series A financing to $9.9 million. Investment fund, Partech Partners, led the round, Enza Capital participated, alongside some unnamed angel investors. Tugende was founded in 2012 by Michael Wilkerson. The company uses asset finance, technology and a customer support model to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises own income-generating assets. Tugende’s core product is for motorcycle riders in Kenya and Uganda, with a lease-to-own or hire-purchase package. The boda boda riders get some training, medical and life insurance, safety equipment and hands-on support from their first use of the motorcycle to owning it.

Ethiopia’s ArifPay which is the first of its kind mobile point of sale system. It raised $3.5M from 31 individual investors to support it in its early stages of rollout and growth. ArifPay was built by the team behind taxi app ZayRide, and was established as a business in February. The startup has developed an MPOS system that will allow ATM card holders to make electronic transactions on smartphones. It  aims to deliver convenient, innovative, safe and secure payment processing services and platforms to the Ethiopian market. 

Dayra closed a $3M pre-seed funding round that included both equity and debt financing, according to a company press release. A number of angel investors, EFG EV Fintech, and Tanmiya Capital Ventures all participated in the round. The funds raised will be used to double Dayra’s 10-member team and expand its product features. Founded in early 2020 by Omar Ekram, Dayra provides financial services to underbanked populations. The company provides virtual bank accounts, prepaid cards and loans to unbanked gig workers and micro-businesses through its app. The repayments are received automatically from earnings of the gig worker.

Nigerian fintech startup, Bankly, secured US$2M in seed funding to accelerate its consumer acquisition and offer direct-to-consumer products to Nigeria’s unbanked and underbanked populations. Founded in 2018, Bankly is digitising the informal “thrift collections'' system that is widely used among Nigerians working in the informal sector. Although the system is popular because it works completely offline, it has inherent security risks, which Bankly addresses by allowing participants to save their money using both online and offline methods. Customers can deposit and withdraw cash with a Bankly agent or make payments using its app or USSD function. With the fundraise, Bankly aims to increase its 35,000 customer base in cash-dependent communities by growing the number of its physical “cash in’’ points. Over the next three years, Bankly plans to grow its customer base to two million unbanked Nigerians.

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