BY GABRIELLA MULLIGAN ON JANUARY 2, 2020
For the Disrupt Africa team, it has been another fascinating year of conversations and meetings with many hundreds of inspiring, innovative African tech startups.
But which of these companies do we think have the brightest futures ahead of them? Here is our pick of the top 12 African startups to watch out for in 2020.
Egyptian trucking marketplace Trella is our first rising star of 2019, having raised more than US$600,000 in a pre-seed funding round; selected for Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator; and concluding the year by acquiring local competitor Trukt.
Founded last year, Trella operates a B2B trucking marketplace, connecting shippers with carriers in real-time, with the goal of making the entire supply chain faster and more reliable while reducing slack and exceptions.
This year’s impressive list of successes comes from a team that told Disrupt Africa they are taking growth “step-by-step”, and not making any hasty moves – so we’re eagerly anticipating the next set of well-planned moves the startup makes.
Also from Egypt, we’re betting fantasy sports platform Eksab will keep up its winning streak in 2020.
Eksab is looking to tap into the MENA region’s love for football by providing users with exciting and engaging mobile games, with the aim of becoming the leading fantasy sports site in the region.
In its first year, the startup processed more than five million predictions, and in June secured a six-figure seed investment from 500 Startups to help it scale its product across the region.
With such a solid start to the startup’s growth plans, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on Eksab over the coming months.
Tunisian fintech Kaoun is tackling the epic question of financial inclusion. The company’s first product, Flouci, is a mobile and web app that allows users to create free bank accounts remotely; facilitating the process through an innovative Know Your Customer (KYC) system via smartphone.
A critical component to any startup’s success, the team behind Kaoun is top-notch: co-founders Nebras Jemel, Anis Kallel, and Rostom Bouazizi put their studies in the United States – at Harvard University, University of Rochester, and Columbia University respectively – on hold to come back to Tunisia and build a fintech startup.
Launched in 2018, Kaoun has already raised funding from two angel investors, and secured key partnerships with two Tunisian banks and the country’s National Digital Certification Agency. This startup is definitely worth watching.
Here at Disrupt Africa, we’re interested to see how FlexClub fares in 2020, after a solid start since launching last year.
The South African startup allows users to purchase vehicles which are then matched with Uber drivers who pay a weekly rental charge to the investor.
With a solid founding team – including two former Uber employees; the startup raised US$1.2 million in a seed round led by CRE Venture Capital and also featuring Montegray Capital and Savannah Fund in March, amidst plans to grow its team and expand into new geographies.
Regtech startup Intergreatme can be credited as one of the first crowdfunding successes of Southern Africa; securing a whirlwind ZAR32.436 million (US$2.19 million) from 406 investors via the Uprise.Africa platform in May. Within six days it had already raised ZAR28.5 million (US$1.98m), with the startup limiting the raise to ZAR32 million which it managed in 2 weeks. The raise was marred slightly by the fact the startup later decided to reject a bulk of it after some investors failed compliance processes.
The fact still stands the startup is an attractive proposition, however, and we get what all the hype is about. Intergreatme has developed a web and app platform that digitises verified personal information for over 25 million credit-active South Africans; for streamlined use across businesses and other organisations.
We can’t wait to see what the startup does next, as we’re sure 2020 is going to be an immense year.
Insurtech startup Pineapple is the third South African venture to make our watch list for 2020.
Founded in 2017, Pineapple allows users to get quotes and insurance on items with just the snap of a picture.
The startup has been going from strength to strength since launching, raising seed funding, and taking part in Google’s Launchpad Africa accelerator and the US-based Hartford Insurtech Hub’s accelerator.
Then in 2019, it won the single biggest prize at the annual VentureClash challenge in the United States (US), securing US$1.5 million from a US$5 million prize fund. With the milestones rolling in, we’re sure 2020 will be a stellar year for this startup.
Rwandan fintech Exuus has had an exciting year; in particular, it has been busy honing its pitch to perfection.
The startup is taking traditional savings groups online in a bid to smooth processes and help low income communities become more financially resilient.
In February, Exuus was one of 10 startups selected to pitch live to an audience of over 600 attendees at the annual Africa Startup Summit, held in Kigali; picked from more than 100 applicants from around the continent.
The startup was also named winner of Seedstars’ Rwandan event, securing a place in the global final, at which Exuus will pitch for up to US$500,000 in equity investment. We think they stand a good chance of coming out on top of the contest.
Launched in 2015, it has taken Kenya’s MPost a while to get going, but recently things have really started hotting up.
Simple but effective, MPost has developed a platform that enables the conversion of mobile numbers into official virtual addresses, which allows notifications to be sent to clients whenever they get mail through their postal addresses.
The startup participated in the Startupbootcamp AfriTech programme held in Cape Town in late 2018; and this year raised a US$1.9 million Series A funding round to finance its expansion and further development of its proprietary platform.
We’ll be keeping our ears glued to the ground for more news from this exciting venture.
Take motorbike taxis, affordable emergency response, and blockchain – mix them together with a bucket of innovation and you get RideSafe. The Kenyan startup offers an emergency response service for public motorcycle taxis, that utilises a micro-insurance financing model running on a decentralised blockchain application.
The startup has had quite the year – having raised US$100,000 in funding from æternity Ventures after taking part in the Bulgaria-based æternity Starfleet Incubator for blockchain startups; as well as being selected to pitch at the Africa Startup Summit in Rwanda in February.
We know we’ll be seeing big things from this company in 2020.
It’s not every day a startup from Mali makes the list of the continent’s top 12 startups to watch – but OKO Finance has.
Founded in 2017, OKO develops affordable mobile-based crop insurance products to provide smallholder farmers with the financial security they need, regardless of unstable climate trends.
The startup raised pre-seed funding of US$300,000; but is now looking to raise US$1.5 million in order to grow more quickly. We feel confident they’ll get the backing, and we’re looking forward to seeing them scale their solution to more farmers and more markets in 2020.
At Disrupt Africa, we’re really excited about Senegalese startup Yobante Express, which has developed an innovative relay-based way of tackling last-mile deliveries.
Founded in November 2018, Yobante Express is an online marketplace that connects local couriers with local commerce; combining the gig economy and machine learning, to optimise domestic, cross-border and last mile delivery.
Already delivering over delivering 8,000 parcels and generating more than US$50,000 every month, Yobante Express expanded to South Africa in November, and we have a feeling this startup will be pan-African before long.
Nigeria’s 54Gene means serious business: it is building the first African DNA biobank.
Just six months old, 54gene is a product of Stack Dx, which raised funding from early-stage VC firm Microtraction to develop the platform in January. Since then it has been selected to take part in the Y Combinator and Google Launchpad Africa accelerator programmes, and in July, raised a US$4.5 million seed round.
The startup is now positioned to build the largest database of genomic and phenotypic consented data of Africans. And for us, there’s no doubt that this startup merits a spot on our must-watch list for 2020.
Ahmed Benjas, MBA Finance Director | SAP | IFRS | SOX | US GAAP | Middle East & North Africa regions |
“When I see these figures, I wonder what makes us believe that we are a country where the economy moves.” -: studies overly paid by the State (McKinsey, Roland Berger …) and we do not have not got the thread to start yet? – Incubators that ultimately serve what? – too many startup events …. !!!! – CoWorking Spaces where we only display the signs of laid-back startups …. – business angels who are not ready to play the game … In my opinion the failure is total, and our ecosystem is unattractive ” end of the quote.
Raising Capital Funding for Start-up in Africa 2017 (in Millions of dollars)
Google launched a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots in Nigeria on Thursday August 9, 2018, part of its effort to increase its presence in Africa’s most populous nation.
The U.S. technology firm owned by Alphabet Inc has partnered with Nigerian fibre cable network provider 21st Century to provide its public Wi-Fi service, Google Station, in six places in the commercial capital Lagos, including the city’s airport.
Internet penetration is relatively low in Nigeria. Some 25.7 percent of the population made use of the internet in 2016, according to World Bank Data.
We are rolling out the service in Lagos today but the plan is to quickly expand to other locations.
The poor internet infrastructure is a major challenge for businesses operating in the country, which is Africa’s largest oil producer. Broadband services are either unreliable or unaffordable to many of Nigeria’s 190 million inhabitants.
“We are rolling out the service in Lagos today but the plan is to quickly expand to other locations,” Anjali Joshi, Google’s vice president for product management, told Reuters in Lagos.
The company said it aimed to collaborate with internet service providers to reach millions of Nigerians in 200 public spaces, across five cities by the end of 2019.
It said it would generate cash from the service in Nigeria by placing Google adverts in the login portal. Google did not disclose the amount invested in the new Nigeria service.
The technology firm said it planned to share revenues with its partners to help them maintain and deploy the Wi-Fi service but did not disclose the expected advertising revenue split.
Africa’s rapid population growth, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones has made it an attractive investment prospect for technology companies.
Nigeria is the fifth country to launch Google Station. Similar services have been launched in India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand.
The service is aimed at countries with rapidly expanding populations. The United Nations estimates Nigeria will be the world’s third most populous nation, after China and India, by 2050.
“A lot of people who found data to be too expensive for them to use, are using it,” said Joshi. “In India, we have tens of millions of users, and close to a million in Mexico.”
However, many do not disclose how profitable the continent’s markets are, or if they make the companies money at all.
Last year, Google announced plans to train 10 million Africans in online skills within five years. It also said it aimed to provide $3 million in equity-free support to African start-ups.
Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters this month to meet the company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai.