When it comes to attracting venture capital across Africa, the most-funded startups are in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt meaning that the four countries are ahead of the rest. On average, over 80% of the total funding that the continent attracts goes to startups that belong to the four countries.
In this research brief, we are looking at the startups that have raised the most funding in 10 countries outside of the usual four.
For this particular list, we only considered venture capital. You will notice that there are companies on the list like Chipper Cash and Azuri Technologies that are not headquartered or incorporated in Africa but have the continent as their primary market. There’s also another group of companies like InstaDeep that start out from the continent but later expand or completely move their HQ outside Africa.
Per our methodology, we regard such companies as African. To classify them under a country, we consider their first point of entry into the continent or where their journey started from for the case of InstaDeep.
1. Ovamba [$2.1M / Cameroon]
In a conversation with Digest Africa, Ovamba founders Marvin Cole and Viola Llewellyn pointed out that the startup had raised a total of $2.1 million in venture capital across a Seed and Series A round. It has also disclosed that they raised an unspecified but considerable amount in debt funding from a couple of investors. Although headquartered in Chevy Chase, United States, Ovamba has Cameroon as its primary country of operation. On its website, the financial services startup states that it “provides short-term capital to micro, small and medium-sized businesses in Africa, emerging markets and the GCC for trade, inventory purchases and growth.”
2. Chipper Cash [$2.3M / Uganda]
Like Ovamba, Chipper Cash is also among the growing breed of startups that are spread across the world even though their main or only market is Africa. Founded by a Ugandan - Ham Serunjogi - and a Ghanaian - Maijid Moujaled, the peer to peer crossborder money transfer startup is headquartered in San Francisco with its team distributed across East Africa and Europe. In a podcast interview with Matt Bowles, Majid talked about how Chipper Cash has embraced working remotely as part of its culture. The startup, which fully started out early in 2018, had Uganda as its first market on the continent before expanding to the rest of East Africa as well as Maijid’s home market. To date, Chipper lists Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania as its countries of operation.
3. Waystocap [$3.1M / Morocco]
One of the first African startups to get accepted into Y Combinator, Morocco’s Waystocap is the most funded in the North African country. It is also among the few with female CEO’s across the continent to have raised more than $1 million in total venture funding. The most recent round recorded and disclosed by the startup is a $3 million Seed round that was led by Pascal Levy-Garboua an angel investor and former VP of Engineering at IQ Engines which was later acquired by Yahoo. Y Combinator also participated in the round. Waystocap was founded in 2016 by Niama El Bassunie an ex-PwC London alongside Anis Abdeddine, Mehdi Daoui, El Bassunie, who worked at the consulting firm PWC in London. In February 2019, Wamda reported that the startup had “opened two new offices in West Africa – in Burkina Faso and Togo” and was setting its sight on expanding its service to include more countries across Africa.
4. Oolu [$3.2M / Senegal]
Solar Energy startup Oolu is Senegal’s most funded startup at $3.2 million. However, it is also important to note that the amount could have been significantly higher, but their Seed round and Series B were undisclosed. Oolu, like Waystocap, is also among the rare startups across the continent that was not only co-founded but led by a woman as a CEO. Though Oolu’s co-founder and then CEO Nilmi Senaratna resigned and left the company after later serving as the Chief Business Development Officer to now only serving as a Strategic Board Advisor based in London.
5. InstaDeep [$7M / Tunisia]
Founded in Tunis in 2014, InstaDeep later relocated to London, United Kingdom. Earlier this year, the startup raised a $7 million Series A led by Tunisian Private Equity firm AfricInvest which is now aggressively looking to back more early-stage and high growth potential ventures after it announced that it was launching a new technology-focused fund. InstaDeep’s Series A round also saw participation from Endeavor Catalyst, a New York-based co-investment fund. The startup is building an AI an AI-based decision-making platform for enterprises.
6. Payitup [$13M / Zimbabwe]
Launched in 2017, the Zimbabwean fintech startup raised the country’s ever largest venture funding round at a $20 million valuation in May this year. Payitup, which seeks to aggregate various payments services on the web and mobile, raised the funding from Thawer Fund Management. Led by Aretha Gonyora, the startup is the only fintech from Zimbabwe to have raised at least $1 million-plus in venture funding per Digest Africa data and research.
7. Zoona [$19M / Zambia]
Founded in 2009 by two brothers, Zoona - a mobile money provider - is no doubt Zambia’s most funded startup. The fintech, which has $19 million in total venture funding across three different rounds offers services such as money transfers, electronic voucher payments, and agent payments.
8. PEG Africa [$26M / Ghana]
The Renewable Energy startup has closed over $26 million in venture funding to-date. PEG Africa is a pay-as-you-go asset financing company serving off-grid households in West Africa. Currently, they operate in Ghana and Ivory Coast and provide credit for solar home systems, as well as other productive and useful assets, to households earning $5-$10 per day. Some of their notable investors include Investisseurs & Partenaires, CDC Group, Total Energy Ventures as well as Energy Access Ventures, Blue Haven Initiative
9. Azuri Technologies [$26M / Rwanda]
Based in London, Azuri Technologies has Africa as their primary market with Rwanda as their point of entry into the continent. Although the company was founded in 2012, much of its financing has been in either debt or crowdfunding. Until this year when it took on the corporate venture from Japan’s Marubeni Corporation.
10. Zola Electric [$113M / Tanzania]
Formerly called Off-Grid Electric, Zola Electric which was founded in 2011, is headquartered in Amsterdam though kickstarted its operations across Africa in Tanzania. The East African country still remains its primary and major market. According to the Zola Electric’s website, the idea for the company was birthed after one of the co-founders, “Xavier attended Oxford University’s MBA program and set out researching exactly why solar adoption was so slow in places where it was needed most.” It was in the program that he met with “future ZOLA co-founder Erica Mackey”. To date, the solar firm has raked in $113 million in venture capital from investors, including Helios Investment Partners. In February this year, the company announced that Elon Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive - who co-founded one of Zola Electric’s investor SolarCity - joined the company as chairman and operational and technology advisor (respectively).
Note: We are looking to expand this list for other countries outside of Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. If you have raised more than $1 million for other countries other than Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, important to note is that we rely mostly on public data. Therefore, if you know any startup that belongs to any of the above 9 markets and has raised more than the included, do reach out.