Africa Startup Funding Q1: Resilient but what lies ahead?

    Funding
    Research Brief
    Venture Capital

The continent has closed off the month of March on a more panicky tone. The coronavirus outbreak has not only caused massive disruptions to both public and private sectors but instilled fear in the citizens of the affected countries. In just weeks, the cases have grown from less than 500 to presently 9,029 according to African Arguments. To shade a ray of light in this dark time, we celebrate the successful close of Q1 2020. 

A total of $30.4M was raised across 26 rounds bringing the total value of venture capital for the quarter to $256.6M across 55 rounds. Although there was a 22.4% drop in funds raised for the month compared to March 2019 ($30.4M in March 2020 and $39.2M in March 2019), the African tech scene registered a 30% increase in the value of funds across the 55 deals of the quarter compared to the $180.7M across 54 deals in 2019. Nigerian-based automobile manufacturer Jet Motor Company received its first raise since it was founded in 2017 in a $9M Series A, placing Transport and Logistics with the highest deal of the month. This was backed by Africa Development Capital and Greatman Legend. 

Here is break down of other notable deals:

Another E-logistics startup WhereIsMyTransport raised in a Series A to the tune of $7.5M led by Liil Ventures, existing investors Global Innovation Fund and Goodwell Investments, Google, Nedbank and Toyota Tsusho Corporation. This brings the startup’s total funding to $13.27M across 5 rounds. These funds will be used to extend its global reach, scale its data collection practice and develop new technology to translate complex data into useful information to commuters. The startup has also expanded outside Africa in Southeast Asia, India and Latin America. 

Fuzu Ltd raised $3.86M in a Series A with Sparkmind.vc, Finnfund, Cornerstone Enterprises, Aucfan Incubate, Seedstars International among its notable investors. The raise is for the development of the new phase of the Fuzu.com platform and learning proposition to further strengthen the team across core markets and accelerate expansion across Africa. Originally starting in Kenya, Fuzu has since expanded to Uganda and has more than 7.5 million users. 

Blue Haven Initiative led a $3.6M Series A funding round for Nigerian-based startup Field Intelligence to scale up the platform’s tech-enabled supply-chain finance platform, Shelf Life throughout Kenya and Nigeria. The round also received participation from Accion Venture Lab and Newton Partners. The startup’s purpose is to effect equality and progress, growth and sustainability through access to health care. Fuzu has partnerships with McKinsey & Company, Chemonics, Clinton Health Service Initiative, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among others. 

Founded in 2017, YouVerify has a B2B service that allows companies to verify the identity of people through their government-issued IDs. In a Seed round backed by Orange Digital Ventures and Loftyinc Capital Management, the startup has raised $1.5M to modernize the verification infrastructure they are building across Africa for easy verification of individuals. The startups have the ambition to help organisations use data and its insights to make automated and efficient business decisions to speed up previously manually back-office operations.

Interactive design lab Argineering provided shop owners and artists with devices that enable them to create customer interaction through window displays and interaction. The startup raised a $400K investment to accelerate the development of a new feature backed by AI and data analytics in a bid to boost revenue. This round was led by US-based VC fund 500 Startups and Egypt’s Flat6Labs. This brings their total funding since 2018 to $450K across 2 rounds. 

From the conclusion of the Y Combinator W20 batch emerged 13 winning startups focused on Africa. All startups received $150K in Seed funding and took part in the 3 month program from January to March in which they worked to get their companies in shape and work on their pitches to investors. This cohort was made up of 200 startups from 32 countries with products or services focused on Africa. Out of the 13 winners, 11 names have been made public:

At the end of the month, Founders Factory Africa added 4 more startups to its Venture Scale Program. The program kicked off in February and targeted e-health and fintech startups and 5 startups ( South African LocumBase, Akili Labs, and Envisionit Deep AI, Kenyan Bwala Africa and Nigeria’s FoodLocker) were initially chosen and received $40K. In March, 4 more startups were selected for the 6 months program (Nigeria’s E-logistics MVXchange and E-health WellaHealth, Ghana’s E-health Redbird Health Tech and South Africa’s Truzo.) in addition to the $40K cash investment, startups will gain access to $273K in support services across product design, data science, engineering and business development. 

The effects from the Covid19 crisis on business models and performance, related to the ability to attract funding shall play through the next quarter and for the rest of the year. As Digest Africa, we shall be here to help you navigate these times.

Digest Africa urges all to wash your hands with soap, sanitize them frequently with an alcohol-based sanitizer, wear protective masks and gloves while going out into the public if need be but most importantly staying indoors to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19). 

If you’re a startup fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through your business or offering solutions to other startups in these tough times, contact us here for the opportunity to be showcased on our website.

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