A16z Leungwennmachers Andreessenhorowitz
As a Venture Partner at Keneoka for TechCrunch, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to network with some of the leading venture partners and tech startups in Africa. These companies include Pngme, Dash, OZE, and YC-backed companies in Africa.
The ilk of Pngme are fintech startups like Okra, OZE and Mono that are redefining the financial landscape in Africa. These include technology-enabled asset finance companies, robo-advisors, and digital recordkeeping platforms. And they aren’t the only players in their space. Some of the more established names in the space include South African startups Stitch and OnePipe, as well as the aforementioned Okra.
Aside from the usual suspects, some interesting names in the fintech space include Nigerian startups Mono, Okra and OZE, which are all based in Lagos. Amongst them, OZE offers embedded finance products to small businesses, and a digital recordkeeping toolkit. It also raised a hefty $3 million in a pre-Series A round. Founders of VC firms like Raptor Group and Two Small Fish Ventures participated in the round, as did angel investors Hayden Simmons of RallyCap, and Richard Talbot, the former COO of RBC Capital Markets.
The first thing to know about this year’s TechCrunch Africa is that there are more startups than ever before. Among them is Ghana-based fintech startup Dash, which recently closed its $32.8 million seed round. Also joining the fold is Moroccan B2B ecommerce company Chari, which announced a $100 million bridge round.
The big question is: how will these companies benefit from the new funding? Besides the obvious – generating more business for its investors, the company will also be able to grow its team, which will be crucial for a firm that wants to keep its head above water. And that’s not to mention the fact that its customers can enjoy lower interest rates.
The most obvious – and the most impressive – is how a company can make use of the myriad data streams it already collects to build a predictive model for granting loans. One example is the fact that OZE can rely on its customers’ performance and behavioural data to make a better-than-average loan.
The startup Dash has raised a seed round of $32.8 million in a transaction that was one of the largest in Africa. The funding will help the company expand in new markets and to build out a team.
Dash is an alternative payment network that allows users to connect mobile money accounts with bank accounts. It also offers a premium service, Dash+. When users make cross-border payments with Dash, they earn FX fees and interest.
Dash’s alternative payment network has been expanding rapidly. Last October, the company closed its first seed round of $8 million. Since then, it has added more than 200,000 users in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, resulting in more than one billion transactions.
Dash is now integrating with voice commands, which makes it easier to make and track purchases. It is also integrating with notifications platform IFTTT.
YC-backed companies in Africa
YC has backed 47 startups in Africa. That represents a 60 percent drop from the winter batch. The first African company to be accepted into YC was Nigerian online advertising startup PetaSales.
Another notable YC-backed startup is mobile money startup Wave. The company has raised at least $1 billion. It is aggressively expanding into Francophone west Africa. It has been granted a license from the Central Bank of West African states.
Curacel is a YC-backed insurance platform that is developing infrastructure for the African market. It is also working with leading technology companies to help them offer insurance to the African consumer.
YC also backs the Pan-African Neobank. This bank will provide 50 million businesses with access to a variety of banking services.
A third branchless banking company, Moni, is another YC-backed startup. It provides finance to agents in five minutes, and has a repayment rate of 99%.