2015 was a great year for African startups. We had a few exits and a lot of startups raised funding (in excess of $185 million). We’ve patted ourselves on the back and the fog has cleared. Time to look ahead. Which startups are going to be hitting homeruns this year? Let’s consult our Magic 8-ball,
2015 was a great year for African startups. We had a few exits and a lot of startups raised funding (in excess of $185 million). We’ve patted ourselves on the back and the fog has cleared. Time to look ahead.
Which startups are going to be hitting homeruns this year? Let’s consult our Magic 8-ball, shall we?
1. M-Kopa Solar
M-KOPA is the global leader for “pay-as-you-go” energy services for off-grid customers. Since 2011, M-Kopa has been championing a solar energy revolution in East Africa by capitalizing on the popularity of mobile phones on the continent. Customers replace kerosene lamps with a solar light and radio/phone charging stations over several months in installments via SMS messaging on mobile money networks.
Last year, M-Kopa raised twice – in February and in December – a total of about $31 million. This year will see the startup hit some major milestones. The startup has the target of equipping 1 million homes in East Africa with solar energy by the end of 2017, having already reached over 280,000 homes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in its first three years M-Kopa.
Printivo is a startup providing print-on-demand services. The team secured a “six figure seed funding” last year in October. Before then, the team had been winners of the Etisalat Innovation award and the YouWin project. All those proceeds went into expanding the business and increasing their production capacity.
That kind of tenacity and focus is what it takes to build a startup into a profit making, world dominating force. We’re expecting big things.
3. Aella Credit
This is an example of a fintech startup disrupting the banking industry even further. Aella Credit is a personal loan lender with direct integration with Nigerian credit bureaus. The startup which launched last year is an alumnus of the Barclays techlab accelerator, and raised close to $1,000,000 in their Seed A round. The first month of operation, saw the startup loan out about N27 million, and in the second, N63 million.
What’s interesting is the way people have been engaging the platform. A lot of customers use the service to fund domestic investments like car purchases, , rent and so on. So, it has become a sort of online microfinance lender, with the only required collateral being a monthly salary. The startup plans to take on SMEs in the coming months, which will only increase its impact.
This comes on the list because they came into the new year swinging – a funding round, and a new office space. Last year, they launched several products including three new hardware for their education division. We can only expect bigger things from the team before the year closes out.
Zeepay is a Ghanaian mobile money merchant service platform. Last year, at DEMO Africa the startup secured an investment of USD 200K from a local institutional investor and closed partnerships with Airtel and other large international mobile operators. As gloabal economic tides continue to change, mobile money transactions will gain broader acceptance. This could be one of the startups leading that front.
Think of Sendy like a mobile DHL service. Based in Nairobi, the startup offers on-demand logistics and fulfilment services. The Sendy app connects independent motorbike riders with clients that need courier services. This has wide applicability, especially when you consider that logistics and fulfilment are still major challenges for ecommerce startups in Nigeria. Last year, Sendy reportedly received $215, 959 from the Spark Fund. The team has already talked about expanding the service out of Kenya, soon.
Like I’ve said before, prophecies are intriguing. But also murky waters. There’s no telling what other African startups are going to deliver haymakers this year. But our fingers are on the scene’s pulse.