We close 2020 with $845M across 361 rounds in total funding, a 50% drop compared to $1.694 billion raised in 2019. Q4 2020 also recorded a drop (72.4%) in total investment raised amounting to $194.7M across 113 rounds compared to Q4 2019 that raked in $706.1M across 136 rounds. There was an even bigger drop of 78% in total venture capital raised in Q4 2020 ($143.5M) versus Q4 2019 ($650M.) December of 2020 contributed $63.3M to this total across 22 disclosed rounds. This too was a 65.8% drop compared to December 2019 ($185M across 34 rounds). SunCulture made the highest raise of the month in a $14M Series A round from Energy Access Ventures, Électricité de France, Dream Project Incubators and Acumen Capital Partners.
Other key takeaways for funding raised in the month include:
- Majority startups raised Grant funding (10 rounds) followed by Seed (3 rounds), Private Equity (2 rounds), Series A (2 rounds) and Series B (2 rounds).
- Most funded stage by value: Series A ($17.75M), Series B ($17M) and Debt Finance ($10M).
- Most funded sectors: Financial Services ($16.04M across 6 rounds), Agriculture ($14.1M across 2 rounds), Energy & Resources ($11.64M across 6 rounds) and EmTech ($8.5M in 1 round).
- Most funded by country: Kenya ($21M, 6 rounds), South Africa ($18.5M, 3 rounds), Senegal ($8.5M, 1 round), Mauritius ($3.1M, 1 round) and Nigeria ($2.5M, 7 rounds).
- Total number of deals for the month: 32 rounds (22 disclosed and 10 undisclosed.)
- Amount raised by startups with a female lead or team member: $18.4M across 8 rounds.
Here is a further breakdown of top 10 investment rounds for the month.
Planet42, a South African based rent-to-own car service raised Debt Finance to the tune of $10M from Lendable. The funding will be used to advance the startup’s objectives of making vehicle purchase and overall mobility available for all South Africans as well as furthering the company’s goal of purchasing 100,000 vehicles by 2024. Planet42 also has plans of raising a Series A round in 2021. According to CEO and co-founder Eerik Oja, the company has signed up over 300 car dealerships across South Africa and intends to secure more. Planet24 purchases second-hand cars from a network of motor dealers and lists them as available purchases for its client base and offers in-person interaction and eliminating middlemen. This round brings their total disclosed funding to date to $12.4M across 2 rounds.
Nigerian fintech CredPal raised its fourth disclosed round yet in a $1.5M Pre-Series A backed by Seed-stage accelerator Y Combinator, investment holding company GreenHouse Capital and digital insurance company Tangerine Life. This brings the company’s total disclosed funding since inception in 2017 to $1.7M (venture capital). The investment will be used to support the company’s mission to drive the adoption and use of credit cards within Nigeria and expand to the rest of Africa, as well as further their aspiration to become the “American Express’ for the continent.
Kenya’s SunCulture provides solar power systems, water pumps and irrigation systems to smallholder farmers and claims to be the first company to commercialize solar powered energy in Africa. In a Series A round backed by Energy Access Ventures, Électricité de France, Dream Project Incubators and Acumen Capital Partners, the company raised $14M to accelerate direct sales in Kenya, continue expansion internationally, and fund existing product improvements and new product innovation. The company’s total disclosed funding to date is $14M.
Aerial imaging startup Aerobotics received its eighth investment yet in an expansion of the Series B round to the tune of $8.5M led by Naspers with participation from FMO and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease. The company has now raised a total of $21.2M across 5 rounds in 8 tranches. This new funding will be used to boost the startup’s international expansion efforts as well as its technological development.
Nairobi-based VC firm TLcom Capital led a $3.75M Series A round for Kenyan startup Ilara Health, with participation from DOB Equity, Chandaria Capital and Global Ventures. This was the second raise for the company in the year, the first being a $1.1M Grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since it was launched in 2018, Ilara has raised a total of $5.6M across 3 rounds. The company will use the newly acquired funds to expand its diagnostic reach across Africa and accelerate the development of its integrated patient health management platform. Ilara Health provides tech-powered diagnostic and medical equipment to make medical diagnosis available and affordable to healthcare facilities in Kenya, irrespective of their sizes and location.
Another clean energy startup Oolu Solar based in Senegal raised an $8.5M Series B equity investment that was led by renewable energy developer RP Global with participation from Persistent Energy Capital, impact investor All On Energy, Gaia Impact Fund and DPI Energy Ventures. The funds will further its mission to further the distribution of its electricity access equipment in West Africa. Oolu distributes kits consisting of a solar panel and storage capacity to many households with offices in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Oolu also claims to have distributed as many as 60,000 solar home systems and offers employment to 250 people. The company’s funding to date now stands at $12.7M across 3 rounds.
API Fintech company OnePipe raised $950K Pre-Seed funding to build their ‘banking-as-a-service’ platform that aggregates APIs from banks and fintechs into a standardized gateway that is easy to integrate and makes partnerships seamless. This service is used by a little over 40 businesses on the demand side and four banks on the supply side. The round was led by the team at US seed-stage accelerator Techstars, and African impact-focused VC fund Atlantica Ventures with participation from other investors including Future Perfect Ventures, Raba Capital and P1 Ventures, among other institutions and angel investors. In July 2020, OnePipe also joined the Techstars seed-stage accelerator program alongside nine other startups.
Another digital financial service Umba secured its first disclosed investment in a $2M Seed round from Lachy Groom who is the ex-head of issuing at Stripe, Ludlow Ventures, Frontline Ventures and Act Venture Capital. With operations in Kenya and Nigeria, Umba offers a digital financial service alternative to legacy African banks through its mobile app that gives customers a free checking account, free instant peer-to-peer money transfers, lending, deposits, BillPay and cash back. This saves them the high-cost barriers found among traditional banking institutions in African countries.
EkoRent Africa, a subsidiary of EkoRent Oy signed a partnership with an investment company of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), InfraCo Africa, with the aim to invest €1 million ($1.2M) in Nairobi-based electric mobility solution Nopea Ride. With the rapid population growth anticipated on the continent by 2050, there is a need for investment in cleaner mobility solutions like this whose electric vehicles not only reduce CO2 emissions, but also reduce fleet operating and maintenance costs compared to taxis with combustion engines.
Mauritius-based WeCycle that specializes in the collection of recyclable waste received a $3.1M investment from private equity fund manager Inside Capital to support its local and regional expansion. WeCycle specializes in the collection of paper and cardboard waste made in Mauritius and exports the waste to recycling companies in India, Indonesia, South Korea and Madagascar and currently averages sales of 5,500 tones of collected waste per year.