The Q3 2021 Africa Funding Report: Record Funding Trend Explodes

Africa venture capital funding hit new heights in Q3 of 2021 with a record $1.5bn raised across 143 deals, an increase from the $370m raised in Q2 2021 which represents a quarter over quarter growth of over 300%.

New Funding Records

Before Q3 of 2021, no single quarter had seen $1bn in funding. With $1.5bn, more funding has been raised in Q3 than in the entire first half of 2021 in which $868M was raised. More funding was also raised in Q3 than in the entire 2020 ($862M) and 2018 ($1.07bn). Only in 2019 ($1.9bn) and 2021 ($2.7bn already) has more funding been raised than in Q3 2021. 

Early-stage funding peaked at $541.5M representing a year over year growth of over 500%. Series A funding was $392.7M alone, while Series B and Pre Series B combined for $148.8M. 

Late-stage funding was also a record $693M, fueled by OPay’s $400M Series C and Andela’s $200M Series E. In Q3 2020, only $5M was raised in late-stage funding. 

In Seed-stage funding deals, $87.3M was raised. This is a year over year growth of 377%. Seed rounds raised $42.3M, while Pre-Series A raised $27.1M and 12.3M was raised in Pre-Series B round. The rest were Angel rounds, Bridge and Grants. 

A total of 143 deals were recorded in Q3 2021. On average, $10m was raised in each deal. In comparison to Q3 2020, 149 deals were recorded with each deal pulling in $993,000. The African big 4 of Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa accounted for 77% of these deals. Nigeria took the lion’s share with 46 deals(32%), followed by Egypt with 29 deals (20%), South Africa with 24 deals (17%) and Kenya with 12 deals (8%).

In Q3 2020, the big 4 accounted for 68% of all deals. Incredibly, Nigeria still led in the number of deals with 48, followed by Egypt(20), South Africa(19) and Kenya(15).   

Nigeria continued its stronghold as number one when it came to investment destinations. Startups from Africa’s most populous country raised $854M, which is more than all the other African countries combined. Egypt followed with $265M, and Senegal broke into the top 3 for the first time having seen $201M pour into the country of which $200M was raised by Wave in its Series A. South Africa took fourth place with $108M. Together, the top 4 investment destinations in Q3 2021 accounted for  99% of all funding.

Nigeria still ruled the roost in Q3 2020, raising $55M closely followed by Kenya with $52M. Kenya has since fallen off, managing just $18M in Q3 2021.  Senegal didn't even make the top 15 in Q3 2020 while Egypt and South Africa raised just $7M and $22M. 

Financial Services is still the sector to beat. $906M was raised by fintechs in Q3 2021. The same sector topped the fundraising charts through the first two quarters of 2021. The $906m raised represents $62% of all funding in that quarter and it is more than the amount raised by all sectors combined in the entire first half of 2021. 3 more sectors were able to raise at least $100m. These were Commercial and Professional Services ($200M), Ecommerce and Retail ($140M) and Transport and Logistics($124M).

In contrast, Energy and Environment resources ($42m) topped Financial Services ($28m) in Q3 2020. The only other sectors to cross the $10m mark in that quarter were Agriculture ($28m)and E-commerce and Retail ($18m). 

Startups with the female founder(s) raised $277m in Q3 2021 from 35 deals. This accounts for just 19%, but it is an increase from the $20m(14%) in Q3 2020. It is also over $100m more than what startups with the female founder(s) raised in the 1st Half of 2021. 

Unicorns

Q3 2021 produced 4 unicorns with each month contributing at least one.  Egyptian mobility startup, SWVL became Africa’s 6th unicorn on 28th July after it announced it was going public via a merger with a SPAC, Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital in a deal valued at $1.5bn. In August, Nigerian fintech OPay became a unicorn after it raised a $400m series C at a $2bn valuation. This funding round was led by Masayoshi Son’s Softbank Vision Fund II. 

Two startups became unicorns in September. Wave from Senegal became Francophone Africa’s first unicorn on 7th September. The mobile money startup raised a $200m Series A at a $1.7bn valuation. The latest African unicorn is Andela. It raised $200m for its Series E at a $1.5bn valuation on 29th September. 

Blockbuster Funding Year

We are on track for a blockbuster funding year. $2.7bn has been raised through the first three quarters of the year alone. With a quarter still to go, 2021 is already Africa’s most funded year crushing the $1.8bn raised in 2019. With 512 deals so far, 2021 is also on track to beat the record of 627 realized in 2019. The $3bn mark will be crossed for the first time, but if Q4 matches or surpasses Q3, then $4bn might be the next target. This will smash all expectations and estimates. 

The 10 Biggest Venture Rounds of Q3 2021.

A total of $1.2bn was raised in the 10 biggest rounds of Q3 2021. This accounted for 82% of all funding even though 143 deals were recorded.  6 of the 10 rounds were raised by fintechs including the top two. Nigeria is represented by 4 startups, Egypt and Tanzania with two and there is a solitary startup from South Africa and Senegal. 5 of these rounds were raised in September, three in July and a pair in August. 

1.OPay ($400m, Series C)

OPay is a Nigerian fintech that was founded in 2018. Its mission is to replace cash and other legacy payment methods and helping local governments improve financial and information security. OPay previously counted ride-hailing and logistics services as part of its business but closed both following a government ban and the rise of the COVID19 pandemic. 

It raised a $400m Series C, one of the biggest ever funding rounds by an African startup. This round made OPay, Africa’s 7th unicorn. The Series C attracted global powerhouse, Softbank Vision Fund 2 of Masayoshi Son who made his first bet on an African startup. Other investors included Sequoia Capital, DragonBall China Capital, Redpoint Ventures China, Source Code Capital, Softbank Ventures Asia, and 3W Capital. The $400m investment will enable OPay to expand its offerings to other markets including Africa’s second-biggest economy, Egypt.

2. Wave ($200M, Series A)

Wave is a Senegal-based mobile money provider that was founded in 2014 as a spinoff of Sendwave, the fintech that was acquired by World Remit, in a $500M stock and cash deal. It is similar to PayPal, but with mobile money accounts not bank accounts. It has an agent network that uses cash on hand to service Wave users who can make free deposits and withdrawals and charges a 1% fee to send money which is 70% cheaper than mobile money services of telecom networks. It has 4-5m users in Senegal alone. 

Wave raised a $200m Series A that valued it at $1.7bn, making it the first Francophone unicorn from investors like Sequoia Heritage, Founders Fund, Stripe, Ribbit Capital and Partech Partners. Wave will use these funds to deepen its presence in Senegal and Ivory Coast and expand into regulatory friendly markets like Uganda. It will also grow its 800-strong team across product, engineering and business. 

Andela ($200M, Series E)

Andela is a fully remote company that enables tech companies to hire remote engineering teams. It was founded in Lagos, Nigeria in 2014 but has since expanded to over 80 countries across the globe. It has a client list of over 200 tech companies including GitHub, Cloudflare and Viacom CBS. 

Andela raised $200M for its Series E which valued the startup at $1.5bn. Investors in this round included Softbank Vision Fund 2, Whale Rock, Generation Investment Management, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Spark Capital. Andela intends to use these funds to add to its 300 employees especially in production and engineering, It will also use the funds to expand to new markets. 

4. Halan ($120M, Undisclosed)

Halan is an Egyptian super app with various services including ride-hailing, financial services, e-commerce and on-demand delivery. It started as a ride-hailing application offering smart transportation using 2 and 3 wheelers. 

It raised $120m in an undisclosed round from Apis Growth Fund II, Development Partners International and Lorax Capital Partners. Halan will use this money to drive further innovation in its technology and product development, scale to millions of customers and expand cross-border. 

5. Yoco - $83M (Series C)

South African Fintech Yoco raised an $83M Series C round backed by several investors including Dragoneer Investment Group, Breyer Capital, HOF Capital, Raba Capital, 4DX Ventures, TO Ventures, Partech Partners, among others. The funds will be used to scale offline and online offerings and expand into new markets. Yoco was founded in 2013 and has over the years provided a platform for merchants to access offline payments. The platform that had 30,000 merchants as users has grown this number four times. 

6.KudaBank ($55m, Series B)

KudaBank is a Nigerian banking app that is taking on incumbents in the country with a mobile-first, personalized, and often cheaper set of banking services and is popular among young Nigerians. It raised a $55m Series B from Target Global and Valar Ventures at a $500m valuation. The startup currently has 1.4m users, more than double the 650,000 they had when they raised a $25m Series A in March 2021, KudaBank plans to use the investment to launch new services and launch into new countries.

7. ZOLA Electric ($45M twice; Debt Financing and Private Equity)

Zola is a next-generation digital renewable energy brand in Africa that enables people from low-income households and those from areas where there is no electricity access to light their homes, power small businesses and stay connected. This is done through affordable solar energy products and batteries.

Zola raised $90M in two rounds in September. One was a $45m debt financing round from FMO and SunFunder. The other was a $45M Private Equity round from Total Energy Ventures, DBL Investors, Helios Investment Partners, Vulcan Capital and Electron Capital Partners.  It will use this funding to improve product development and to improve technology in its products. 

9.FairMoney - $42M (Series B)

FairMoney, a neobank, raised the ninth-largest investment of Q3 2021 with $42M in a Series B round led by global investment firm Tiger Global Management. The round also had participation from other investors including DST Global, Flourish Ventures, Newfund Capital and Speedinvest. The funds will be used to diversify its offerings and expand to “become the financial hub for its users.” Since it was founded in 2017, the company has registered significant growth especially in 2020 disbursing a total loan volume of $93 million to over 1.3 million users who made more than 6.5 million loan applications. 

10.MaxAB - $40M (Series A)

RMBV, International Finance Corporation, Flourish Ventures, Crystal Stream Capital, Rise Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, Beco Capital and  4DX Ventures invested $40M in the food and grocery delivery platform MaxAB. This brings their total funding to date to $46.2M across 2 rounds. The fresh funds will be used to scale across the Middle East and North Africa. The company claims to have launched in a new city every month this year and intends to expand even further. 

Notes:

Data contained in this report comes directly from Digest Africa and is based on reported data. Data reported is as of October 14, 2021. 

Seed Stage includes seed, pre-seed and angel rounds. We also qualify equity crowdfunding and convertible notes of less than $500,000 as seed-stage rounds. 

Early-stage rounds include Series A and Series B rounds while Late-stage rounds include series C, D, E and other later-lettered venture rounds.

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