Note #6: Feb 1 - 27 2017

Context and Thoughts

Dear readers: I’m trying a newer, lighter, significantly-easier-to-produce version of Africa Notes with this issue (also, Caps Lock). I’ll be continuing to experiment with different formats and categorization methods over the coming weeks, and seeing how they impact engagement. As always, your feedback is welcomed!

Looking back on last year: Disrupt Africa has published their 2016 African Funding Report, going into detail on last year’s funding landscape, including a nearly 17% growth in Africa tech startup funding last year. Notable points in the report include the near-parity levels of tech startup funding in South Africa and Nigeria, and the 77% drop (!) in Kenyan startup funding from 2015. (However, the presence or absence of relatively outsize funding deals [ie. Zoona in ZA, Andela in NG, and M-KOPA Solar in KE] are helping to create some of this apparent year-to-year funding volatility, but that’s a longer discussion.)

Industry News

  • The South African Reserve Bank [ZA] (SARB) has stated that it is open to creating a national digital currency using blockchain or distributed ledger technology. link link2

  • Geeks on a Plane / 500 Startups [US] planning their latest African startup tour for Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa in March 2017 link

Deals, Startups, and More

  • Startup accelerator Y Combinator [US] has chosen two African startups for their Winter 2017 class: payments-via-messaging startup Kudi [NG] and African marketplace Waystocap [MA] link

  • B2B Startup Bamba [KE] closes a $1.1mm seed funding round including investments from Techstars Africa and Draper Associates link

  • “Lending marketplace” startup RainFin [ZA] has sold 30% of its equity to LeBashe Investment Group at an undisclosed price link

  • Agricultural credit rating fintech startup FarmDrive [KE], focused on smallholder farmers (a 50mm user market in Africa), has closed a new funding round (amount undisclosed) from Kenyan telco Safaricom’s Spark Venture Fund link link2

  • Video streaming subscription service Showmax [ZA] launches in Poland, their first European country link

  • Credit scoring and financial services startup Tala [US], already launched in East Africa and SE Asia, raises a $30mm Series B round for further market expansion link

  • Universal basic income nonprofit GiveDirectly [US] is testing 2-year and 12-year basic income commitments for Kenyans in rural villages link link2