UP NEXT: PREDICTING AFRICA'S NEXT UNICORNS

On September 29, 2021, news broke that Andela, a fully remote company that helps companies build remote engineering teams in Africa, had raised $200m at a $1.5bn valuation. This funding round was led by Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Vision 2 Fund. Andela became the continent’s 9th unicorn. According to Investopedia, a unicorn is a privately held startup company with a valuation of over $1bn.

From 2016 to 2020, 3 startups in Africa attained unicorn status. These were Jumia in 2016, Interswitch in 2019 and Fawry in 2020. In 2021 alone, 6 startups have become unicorns; Flutterwave in March, Chipper Cash in May, SWVL in July, OPay in August, Wave and Andela in September.  We predict the startups from which we believe the next African unicorn will emerge. 

We compiled a list of 8 startups. These startups have raised $899M in funding across 47 deals. This is an average of $19m per deal. On average, each startup has raised $112m. The list is dominated by fintech (4), a sector that has already produced 6 of the 9 unicorns in Africa so far. Ecommerce and Retail(3), Healthcare and Pharma(1) are the other sectors that are represented on this list. There are 4 startups from South Africa, 2 from Nigeria and a solitary startup each from Kenya and Egypt. Here is our list. These startups are not in any particular order. 

Tyme Bank

Country; South Africa

Sector; Financial  Services

Total funding; $140M

Tyme Bank is a South African digital bank that offers a transactional bank account with zero or low monthly fees. It also offers a savings account. Founded in 2019, it has grown rapidly gaining 2.8m customers in just 2 years with goals of having 4m by the end of 2022. It onboards about 110,000 new customers a month and is currently outpacing all its competitors. The new customers are onboarded from physical kiosks, mostly Pick N Pay and Boxer stores. 

Tyme Bank wants to grow into a top tier retail bank. It is the first bank in South Africa that is fully operated off a cloud-based infrastructure network and was the first to be granted a commercial banking license in South Africa since 1999. TymeBank has raised $140m in three rounds. It raised one of the largest funding rounds of 2021 so far when it raised $109m in an undisclosed round in February from Apis Partners and JG Summit Holdings.

KudaBank

Country; Nigeria 

Sector; Financial Services

Tota Funding; $92M

KudaBank is another digital bank on the African continent operating in Nigeria. It offers a mobile-first, personalized and often cheaper set of banking services than the incumbents. Initially, its business model was to provide banking services to those with bank accounts. One could receive his salary through a traditional bank and then transfer the money to a KudaBank account. The startup then secured its own banking license and this led to a shift of providing full banking services like a traditional bank of its own. 

Kuda raised $55m in a Series B in August 2021 from Valar Ventures and Target Global that valued the startup at $500m. This brought its total funding to $92m across 5 rounds. KudaBank will use the money to introduce new services for Nigeria and launch into other African countries in a bid to achieve its mission of “banking services for each African on the planet” as echoed by its CEO, Babs Ogundeyi. It currently has 1.4m users up from 650,000 users when it raised a $25M Series A in March 2021. 

Vezeeta

Country; Egypt

Sector; Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Tota Funding; $63.5M

Vezeeta is a doctor booking platform in the Middle East and North African region. It has operations in 50 cities across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon with plans to expand into Sub Saharan Africa. It generates 4m annual appointments, and these are tripling year over year. A user can search, book, review the best doctors and medical services in under a minute. It also provides innovative SaaS solutions to thousands of healthcare providers listed on its platform and runs an online pharmacy as well. 

Vezeeta has raised a total of $63.5m and is one of Egypt’s most funded startups. Its last round of financing was a $40M Series D in February 2020 with Gulf Capital and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) as investors. It was valued at well over $100M in this round, an increase from the $32m valuation it had when it raised $12m in its Series C in September 2018. 

JUMO

Country; South Africa 

Sector; Financial Services

Total Funding; $147M 

Founded by Andrew Watkins-Ball in 2014, Jumo offers loans and saving options to those that can't access them from existing financial systems. Jumo has developed a credit-scoring algorithm that accurately estimates the creditworthiness of an individual or small business. The lending process is facilitated through partnerships with telecom companies. 

By 2020, Jumo had served millions of customers across 6 African countries and expanded into the Asian market with Pakistan being its first stop. Over $10m have been borrowed or saved on Jumo. Jumo is one of the most funded startups on the African continent. It has raised $146.7m across 9 funding rounds. Its last funding was a $55m Series C in February 2020 from investors like Goldman Sachs, Odey Asset Management and LeapFrog Investments 

YOCO

Country; South Africa 

Sector; Financial Services

Total Funding; $103M 

Yoco, derived from “Your Commerce”, is a South African payment management and audit services company. It builds tools and services that help SMEs to get paid and manage their businesses.  It has a Point of Sale card reader that links to its proprietary payment and performance software. It costs $100. This kit enables cash-based SMEs to start accepting cards and tracking metrics like top-selling products, peak sales periods and inventory flows. 

Yoco currently has over 150,000 businesses and is adding 500 merchants per day. It currently processes $1bn in card payments per year. Yoco has raised $103.1m in 4 financing rounds. It raised a monster $83m Series C in July 2021. Investors included Dragoneer Investment Group, Breyer Capital, HOF Capital, 4Dx Ventures, Partech Partners and Velocity Capital among others. 

Konga

Country; Nigeria

Sector; Ecommerce and Retail

Total Funding; $79.5M

Founded by Sim Shagaya in 2012, Konga is one of the pioneers in changing the retail industry in West Africa. It started with three categories; baby, beauty and personal care products and in Lagos only. It broadened its scope, both in terms of products and market served in 2013 after facing competition from Jumia. It then launched a 3rd party retail platform in 2014 and had 8,000 merchants by the end of the year beating expectations of 1,000 merchants by 8 fold. 

Konga raised a then-record $41m Series C in 2014 from Naspers and Kinnevik AB at a valuation of $200m. In total, Konga has raised $79.5m in 4 funding rounds. It has since launched other products like KongaPay, its in-house online payments facilitator, KongaTravel, an online travel marketplace; KongaExpress, its own logistics provider and Konga Marketplace for its 3rd party merchants. 

Twiga Foods

Country; Kenya 

Sector; Ecommerce & Retail

Total Funding; $105M

Twiga Foods is a mobile-based, cashless, B2B fresh fruit and vegetable supply platform. It connects farmers in rural areas to vendors in urban areas directly. This helps to lower the costs that are incurred when using traditional middlemen. Founded in 2014 by Peter Njonjo, a former Coca Cola Executive and Grant Brooke, the startup operates its own collection centres across Kenya and has a central packhouse with cold storage facilities. It also owns a fleet of mobilized trucks and vans to ease the collection and distribution of the produce. Twiga Foods currently has 17,000 farmers and 35,000 vendors that are using its platform in Kenya alone.  Twiga Foods has raised $105M making it the fourth most funded startup in Kenya.  Its last funding round was in October 2020 when it received a $30M debt financing round from the International Finance Corporation.  

Takealot

Country; South Africa

Sector; Ecommerce and Retail

Total Funding; $169M

Takealot is one of South Africa,s biggest online retailers with over 9m products to choose from across 17 categories. Founded in 2011 by Kim Reid, the startup has done a lot to grow online shopping in South Africa. It was the first online retailer to take part in Black Friday. Takealot has over 1.8m shoppers and over 2,500 third-party sellers on its Takealot Marketplace. In 2014, it acquired the food delivery service, Mr Delivery, rebranding it as Mr D Food.

Takealot is a well-funded startup. It raised a $100M Series C funding round in May 2014 from Tiger Global Management and followed this up with another $69M in corporate funding from Naspers in April 2017.

 

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