As we used tally marks to countdown our seemingly endless days under lockdown, we came to the close of yet another month. Luckily for many nations, the lockdown regulations have started to ease up, with cautionary measures still in place including serving half the number of clients at a time, practicing social distancing by keeping 2 to 4 meters apart and of course sanitizing.
On the same positive note, May recorded a 221% increase in VC raised ($69.6M across 29 rounds) compared to April ($21.7M across 15 rounds). The highest value deal came in from Ghana’s MPharma $17M Series C backed by CDC Group, ex-chief executive of Novartis Dr. Daniel Vasella, CEO of Breyer Capital Jim Breyer and Dompe Holdings. However this total is still a 21% decrease compared to May 2019 ($88M across 22 rounds) that recorded one of the year's highest raises in a single round: CarePay’s $45M in a Series A. Two months into Q2 2020 and over $91.3M has been raised across 44 rounds.
Here is a further breakdown of the month’s top $1M+ deals and a few takeaways:
- This lot has raised a total of $70.25M across 11 rounds.
- Majority are startups in the Agriculture sector (Aerobotics, Tomato Jos, East Africa Fruits, Nextprotein and Apollo Agriculture.)
- Healthcare and Agricuture Sectors had the highest values on total deals with $29M (Helium Health and MPharma) and $28.95M (Aerobotics, Tomato Jos, East Africa Fruits, Nextprotein and Apollo Agriculture) respectively.
- Investor participation in rounds has increased compared to April with majority startups raising from more than one investor.
- Goodwell Investments made 3 investments in 3 different startups all within the month (East Africa Fruits, Tomato Jos and Inclusivity Solutions.)
Early in the month, Cairo’s Instabug raised a $5M Series A round led by previous investor Accel. Other investors included angel investors founder of MoPub Jim Payne and co-founder of Cloudera Amr Awadallah. The Instabug platform allows users to offer feedback from within apps to report bugs and issues. The fund will be used to expand its operations and launch new products. This brings their total funding to $7.1M across four (4) rounds. According to CEO and co-founder Omar Gabr, the startup has grown 120% in revenue and has added dozens of Enterprise customers in the last 12 months.
Nigerian e-Health platform Helium Health has now raised a total of $12M across two (2) rounds since it was founded in 2015, with the latest being a Series A round co-led by Dubai based VC fund Global Ventures and Africa HealthCare Master Fund managed by Asia Africa Investment and Consulting (AAIC). Other investors also include Tencent Holdings, Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company and Chrysalis Capital. As its contribution to fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, the startup offered free access to their telemedicine service for the month of April and about 360 hospitals signed up for the service. The fund therefore, will be used to hire staff and expand operations to Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Morocco.
East Africa Fruits describes itself as a ‘social enterprise’ that integrates sellers and buyers of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains in Tanzania. In a round led by Goodwell Investments with participation from FINCA Ventures and ELEA, the startup raised $2.05M in a Series A (total of $3.1M made up of $2.05M in equity and $1.1M in debt finance.) This fund will address the food security issues in Tanzania including poor food transportation, lack of cold chain food storage and inadequate market information for farmers. Over the next three years, the startup aims to serve over 10,000 farmers and 6,000 SME vendors.
Transport and logistics startup Brimore also raised $3.5M in a Pre-Series A to invest more in product development, operational infrastructure and accelerate their growth momentum. The round was led by Algebra Ventures, with participation from Disruptech, Vision Ventures and existing investors 500 Startups and Flat6Labs. This brings their total disclosed funding to $4.3M across two (2) rounds. Brimore provides small and medium sized manufacturers in Egypt with access to nationwide distribution through its large network of freelancers who sell and recruit others to sell consumer goods within their local communities.
At mid of the month, agro-processing startup Tomato Jos raised $4.2M in a Series A led by Goodwell Investments with participation from Acumen Capital Partners and VestedWorld. The funds will be directed towards the expansion of the startup’s operations and business reach. Growth plans include the installation of a drip irrigation system and processing plant that can produce 20 tons of finished product per day. Since it was started in 2014, the company has supported over 70 smallholder farmers across 3 growing cycles.
UK-based venture investment platform Anthemis also led a Series A $6M round for Kenya’s Apollo Agriculture for expansion. The round also has participation from investors Accion Venture Lab, Leaps By Bayer and Flourish Ventures. The startup’s digital model has helped them continue partnering with farmers to produce more food despite disruptions from the coronavirus. In this year alone, the startup has partnered with close to 25,000 farmers.
SA agritech Aerobotics raised $5.5M from Naspers to help continue its path of growth that expanded its solutions to the US. The startup uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites blended with machine learning algorithms to help farmers manage their farms throughout the season by detecting problems. The startup has raised a total of $10.1M in vc across 5 rounds. In the wake of the coronavirus, such technology is very important to support the very vital agriculture sector.
As earlier mentioned, Ghana’s MPharma then raised $17M in a Series C to help the company expand its vendor management inventory system (VMI) and QualityRx platforms which are being used by 250 pharmacies in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This brings their total funding to $40.6M across four (4) rounds.
Towards the close of the month, South African mobile games publisher Carry1st raised a $2.5M Seed led by CRE Venture Capital with participation from Perivoli Innovations, Chandaria Capital, Lateral Capital, Transsion’s Future Hub and Kam Kronenberg III. The startup has already launched 2 games (Hyper! and Carry1st Trivia) as direct downloads from its site. These funds will be used to bring more unique content onto its platform, expand its distribution channels and also market itself.
French-Tunisian startup Neoprotein closed a $11.2M Series A from a group of investors including Blue Oceans Partners, Telos Impact, RAISE Impact, Mirova among others. The funds will be used to upscale its insect production for their animal feed and fertilizer. The startup harvests and grows fly larvae from inconsumable food and then processes it into valuable components of animal food including oil, dry protein and fertilizer.
Fintech Inclusivity Solutions raised $1.3M in its second tranche of Series A to help it expand its markets (both existing and new ones.) The round was backed by Goodwell Investments (its third investment of the month), UW Ventures, Allan Gray and MFS Africa. The platform provides digital insurance solutions in partnership with mobile operators, insurance companies and other distribution partners. This brings the company’s total funding to $2.9M.
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