Summary Of The Ten Most Funded Startups In South Africa

Based on Digest Africa’s previous briefs and reports, South African startups are one of the top four recipients of funding on the African continent. The growth and success of the South African ecosystem is attributed to a number of factors, which include: the liaison between private sector and the government around policies and legislative changes to stimulate the industry, general realization that entrepreneurship is vital in boosting economic growth and curbing high levels of under and unemployment, corporate investment in accelerators, incubators and innovation programmes as well as increased support from both local and international governments.

South Africa is ranked among the top 10 most developed countries in Africa, and entrepreneurship provides the boost needed for economic development through innovation, wealth creation and even promotion of social change. The nation also boasts of angel networks, VC firms and accelerators with players like the Jozi Angels, Naspers Foundry, Africa Angels Network, CRE Venture Capital, AngelHub Ventures and Founders Factory Africa among others that have backed a number of startups both with funds and training.

Johannesburg and Cape Town are the two main tech hubs of South Africa and per Digest Africa data, are home to over 173 and 362 startups respectively, out of a total of over 662 startups. The same data has recorded over $448M raised in disclosed venture funding raised over time by these startups.     

Below are 10 startups that have secured the most venture capital in South Africa, excluding acquisitions and IPOs. The group has raised a total of $230M from 21 rounds. 

Here are a few observations about this lot:

  • The highest amount was raised in 7 Series B rounds valued at $127.85M, followed by $87.45M raised in seven (7) Series A rounds and $6.22M in five (5) Seed rounds. The least total was raised in a Series D ($4M) and Series C ($3.5M.)

  • In terms of founder diversity, out of 18 founders, only 5 are black (Fred Swaniker, Katlego Maphai, Lungisa Matshoba and Aisha R. Pandor) and only one of the whole group is a woman (Aisha R. Pandor of SweepSouth.)
  • Of the 10, the majority are FinTechs (Jumo, Yoco, MFS Africa, Lulalend and Nomanini) which have collectively raised $111.5M across 10 rounds. 
  • The majority (7 startups) was founded in the years 2013 to 2015. 

Jumo ($68M)

Jumo is both the most funded of the South African startups and the most funded Fintech in Africa. In 2015, Andrew Watkins-Ball founded this startup in London as an establishment that offers its customers microloans, access to savings services in partnerships with banks and insurance products. The startup has 7 global hubs and operates in 6 active markets ( Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) with plans to expand to Bangladesh, India,  Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Jumo has raised $67.5M across 3 rounds with Goldman Sachs, Leapfrog Investments and Proparco as its notable investors.

African Leadership Academy ($54.3M)

In two Series A and B rounds, this startup has raised a total of $54.3M in venture funding led by billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and Omidyar Network. The Academy seeks to develop a powerful network of over 6,000 leaders who will work together to address Africa’s greatest challenges, achieve extraordinary social impact and accelerate the continent’s growth course. The startup was founded by Fred Swaniker in 2008. 

Travelstart ($40M)

Travelstart is an online travel agency that allows its customers to compare airfares, vehicle hire options from the top rental companies as well as hotel reservations bookable for properties on every continent, all while focusing on making travel affordable and simple. It currently operates in 18 countries and recently acquired Club Travel Group and its subsidiaries. Though founded in 1999 by Stephan Ekbergh, this startup raised first in 2016 a $40M Series A with participation from Amadeus Capital Partners and MTN Group

Yoco ($18M)

Fintech Yoco has raised $18M in 2 rounds with Partech, Quona Capital, Velocity Capital Private Equity and as some of its notable investors. The startup defines itself as an ‘African Technology company’ that builds tools and services to help small businesses get paid, run their business and grow. Katlego Maphai, Bradley Wattrus, Carl Wazen and Lungisa Matshoba founded Yoco in 2013.    

MFS Africa ($14M)

 Founded in 2013 by Dare Okoudjou, this Pan-African Fintech develops innovative value-added services for mobile wallets by working in close partnerships with mobile network operators and financial institutions to bring simple and relevant financial services to un- and under-banked customers. This startup has raised $14M in a Series B with participation from LUN Partners Group, Goodwell Investments, FSD Africa and Equator Capital Partners.  

RapidDeploy ($12M)

Now headquartered in Texas, USA, RapidDeploy was born in the year 2014 in Cape Town, after founders, Steve Raucher and Brett Meyerowitz teamed to re-imagine a 9-1-1 platform that would help alleviate the problems Public Safety was having with location accuracy and situational awareness during incidents. So far, this cloud-aided dispatch company has raised $12M in a Series A round backed by GreatPoint Ventures and Samsung NEXT Ventures. RapidDeploy expanded its market to the US earlier this year after shifting headquarters.

Lulalend ($6.5M) 

International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Quona Capital backed fintech Lulalend in a $6.5M Series A earlier this year. This startup allows small businesses to apply for and receive funding without visiting a bank branch through the use of technology that evaluates the real-time performance of your business. Since its establishment in 2014 by co-founders Trevor Gosling and Neil Welman, has helped provide access to business funding of up to R1.5M. 

SweepSouth ($6.2M)

Now one of the most funded startups in Africa co-founded by a woman, SweepSouth has raised an impressive $6.2M across 3 rounds in venture funding with Micheal and Suzan Dell Foundation, Naspers Foundry, Smollan and CRE Venture Capital as some of its notable investors. Aisha R. Pandor and Alen Ribic founded this startup in 2014 that has since become a reliable home cleaning service.  

WhereIsMyTransport ($5.7M)

In 4 rounds e-logistics platform WhereIsMyTransport has raised funding to the tune of $5.7M with Global Innovation Fund, Goodwell Investments and Liil Ventures as some of its notable investors. Headquartered in Cape Town, this platform has provided mobility data for the world’s low and middle-income cities and is making public transport more accessible, predictable, easier to navigate and safer to use for the public. Devin de Vries, Dave New and Chris King founded this startup in 2015.

Nomanini ($5M)

Nomanini was founded by Vahid Monadjem in 2011 and has connected merchants and distributors to each other and global service providers, all while integrating payments, working capital and data analytics to unlock the latent potential of Africa’s economy. Across 3 rounds, this startup has raised 5M backed by Standard Bank, Goodwell Investments, Industrial Development Corporation and eVentures Africa Fund

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