Category : Science & Tech

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 day ago

China’s Transsion and Kenya’s Wapi Capital partner on Africa fund

Chinese mobile-phone and device maker Transsion is teaming up with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to source and fund early-stage African fintech startups. Headquartered in Shenzhen, Transsion is a top-seller of smartphones in Africa that recently confirmed its imminent IPO. Wapi Capital is the venture fund of Kenyan fintech startup Wapi Pay—a Nairobi based company that facilitates digital payments between African and Asia via mobile money or bank accounts. Investments for the new partnership will come from Transsion’s Future Hub, an incubator and seed fund for African startups opened by Transsion in 2019. Starting September 2019, Transsion will work with Wapi Capital to select early-stage African fintech companies for equity-based investments of up to $100,000, Transsion Future Hub Senior Investor Laura Li told TechCrunch via email. Wapi Capital won’t contribute funds to Transsion’s Africa investments, but will help determine the viability and scale of the startups, including due diligence and deal flow, according to Wapi Pay co-founder Eddie Ndichu. Wapi Pay and Transsion Future Hub will consider ventures from all 54 African countries and interested startups can reach out directly to either organization, Ndichu and Li confirmed. The Wapi Capital fintech partnershi...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 day ago

Transsion’s Future Hub and Kenya’s Wapi Capital partner on Africa fund

Transsion Future Hub, a subsidiary of Chinese mobile-phone and device maker Transsion, is teaming up with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to source and fund early-stage African fintech startups. Headquartered in Shenzhen, Transsion is a top-seller of smartphones in Africa that recently confirmed its imminent IPO. In 2019 it opened and financed Future Hub, an incubator and seed fund for African startups. Wapi Capital is the venture fund of Kenyan fintech startup Wapi Pay — a Nairobi-based company that facilitates digital payments between African and Asia via mobile money or bank accounts. Starting in September 2019, Transsion Future Hub will work with Wapi Capital to select early-stage African fintech companies for equity-based investments of up to $100,000, Transsion Future Hub Senior Investor Laura Li told TechCrunch via email. Wapi Capital won’t contribute funds to Future Hub’s Africa investments, but will help determine the viability and scale of the startups, including due diligence and deal flow, according to Wapi Pay co-founder Eddie Ndichu. Wapi Pay and Transsion Future Hub will consider ventures from all 54 African countries; interested startups can reach out directly to either organization, Ndichu and Li confirmed. The Wapi Capital fintech partnership is not Tran...

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 days ago

Nigerian logistics startup Kobo360 raises $30M backed by Goldman Sachs

Nigerian freight logistics startup Kobo360 has raised a $20 million Series A round led by Goldman Sachs and $10 million in working capital financing from Nigerian commercial banks. The company — with an Uber -like app that connects truckers and companies to delivery services — will use the funds to upgrade its platform and expand to 10 new countries beyond current operating markets of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Kenya. Since its launch in Lagos in 2017, Kobo360 has continued to grow its product offerings, VC backing and  customer base. The startup claims a fleet of more than 10,000 drivers and trucks operating on its app. Top clients include Honeywell, Olam, Unilever, Dangote and DHL. In addition to customer focus, founders Ife Oyedele II and Obi Ozor have prioritized serving the startup’s drivers. They offer the company’s app in languages common to drivers, such as Hausa and Pidgin.  Kobo360 also launched its own driver working capital finance program, KoPay, KoboSafe insurance product and KoboCare: a suite of driver services from HMO packages to family tuition assistance. The startup is part of a growing e-logistics and transport space in Africa linking on-demand apps to mobile-based connectivity to move people and goods around the continent more effectively. In the r...

Other News / Science & Tech - 6 days ago

Y Combinator-backed Trella brings transparency to Egypt’s trucking and shipping industry

Y Combinator has become one of the key ways that startups from emerging markets get the attention of American investors. And arguably no clutch of companies has benefited more from Y Combinator’s attention than startups from emerging markets tackling the logistics market. On the heels of the success the accelerator had seen with Flexport, which is now valued at over $1 billion — and the investment in the billion-dollar Latin American on-demand delivery company Rappi, several startups from Northern and Southern Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia have gone through the program to get in front of Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms. These are companies like Kobo360, NowPorts and, most recently, Trella. The Egyptian company founded by Omar Hagrass, Mohamed el Garem and Pierre Saad already has 20 shippers using its service and is monitoring and managing the shipment of 1,500 loads per month. “The best way we would like to think of ourselves is that we would like to bring more transparency to the industry,” says Hagrass. Like other logistics management services, Trella is trying to consolidate a fragmented industry around its app that provides price transparency and increases efficiency by giving carriers and shippers better price transparency an...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 week ago

Africa’s top mobile phone seller Transsion to list in Chinese IPO

Chinese mobile-phone and device maker Transsion will list in an IPO on Shanghai’s STAR Market, Transsion confirmed to TechCrunch. The company — which has a robust Africa sales network — could raise up to 3 billion yuan (or $426 million). “The company’s listing-related work is running smoothly. The registration application and issuance process is still underway, with the specific timetable yet to be confirmed by the CSRC and Shanghai Stock Exchange,” a spokesperson for Transsion’s Office of the Secretary to the Chairman told TechCrunch via email. Transsion’s IPO prospectus is downloadable (in Chinese) and its STAR Market listing application available on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s website. STAR is the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s new Nasdaq-style board for tech stocks that also went live in July with some 25 companies going public.  Headquartered in Shenzhen — where African e-commerce unicorn Jumia also has a logistics supply-chain facility — Transsion is a top-seller of smartphones in Africa under its Tecno brand. The company has a manufacturing facility in Ethiopia and recently expanded its presence in India. Transsion plans to spend the bulk of its STAR Market raise (1.6 billion yuan or $227 million) on building more phone assemb...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

Africa Roundup: Canal+ acquires ROK, Flutterwave and Alipay partner, OPay raises $50M

In July, French television company Canal+ acquired the ROK film studio from VOD company IROKOtv. Canal+ would not disclose the acquisition price, but confirmed there was a cash component of the deal. Founded by Jason Njoku in 2010 — and backed by $45 million in VC — IROKOtv boasts the world’s largest online catalog of Nollywood: a Nigerian movie genre that has become Africa’s de facto film industry and one of the largest globally (by production volume). Based in Lagos, ROK film studios was incubated to create original content for IROKOtv, which can be accessed digitally anywhere in the world. ROK studio founder and producer Mary Njoku will stay on as director general under the Canal+ acquisition. With the ROK deal, Canal+ looks to bring the Nollywood production ethos to other African countries and regions. The new organization plans to send Nigerian production teams to French-speaking African countries starting this year. The ability to reach a larger advertising network of African consumers on the continent and internationally was a big acquisition play for Canal+. Canal+ acquires Nollywood studio ROK from IROKOtv to grow African film San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave partnered with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba’s Alipay to offer digital paym...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

China’s Vivo is eyeing smartphone users in Africa and Middle East

Africa’s mobile phone industry has in recent times been dominated by Transsion, a Shenzhen-based company that is little known outside the African continent and is gearing up for an initial public offering in China. Now, its Chinese peer Vivo is following its shadow to this burgeoning part of the world with low-cost offerings. Vivo, the world’s fifth-largest smartphone maker, announced this week that it’s bringing its budget-friendly Y series smartphones into Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt while the line of products is already available in Morocco. It’s obvious that Vivo wants in on an expanding market as its home country China experiences softening smartphone sales. Despite a global slowdown, Africa posted annual growth in smartphone shipments last year for the first time since 2015 thanks in part to the abundance of entry-level products, according to market research firm IDC. Affordability is the key driver for any smartphone brands that want to grab a slice of the African market. That’s what vaulted Transsion into a top dog on the continent where it sells feature phones for less than $20. Vivo’s Y series smartphones, which are priced as little as $170, are vying for a place with Transsion, Samsung and Huawei that have respective unit shares of 34....

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

China’s Vivo is eyeing smartphone users in Africa and the Middle East

Africa’s mobile phone industry has in recent times been dominated by Transsion, a Shenzhen-based company that is little known outside the African continent and is gearing up for an initial public offering in China. Now, its Chinese peer Vivo is following its shadow to this burgeoning part of the world with low-cost offerings. Vivo, the world’s fifth-largest smartphone maker, announced this week that it’s bringing its budget-friendly Y series smartphones into Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt; the line of products is already available in Morocco. It’s obvious that Vivo wants in on an expanding market as its home country China experiences softening smartphone sales. Despite a global slowdown, Africa posted annual growth in smartphone shipments last year for the first time since 2015 thanks in part to the abundance of entry-level products, according to market research firm IDC. Affordability is the key driver for any smartphone brands that want to grab a slice of the African market. That’s what vaulted Transsion into a top dog on the continent where it sells feature phones for less than $20. Vivo’s Y series smartphones, which are priced as little as $170, are vying for a place with Transsion, Samsung and Huawei that have respective unit shares of 34.3%, 2...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

Why this Nigerian fintech startup is volunteering audited financials

Nigerian fintech firm Carbon — an early-stage financial services startup based in Lagos — has posted on its website financials audited by KPMG. This comes four months after the company obtained a credit rating as a pre-IPO venture. Carbon — which recently rebranded its OneFi holding company and PayLater product titles into one name — plans to continue releasing its financial results on an annual basis, co-founder and CEO Chijioke Dozie told TechCrunch. This may not be totally unheard of in other global tech markets, but for startups in Africa’s big tech hubs — such as Nigeria — it’s a rarity. One of the first glimpses into startup financials in Nigeria came when Jumia shareholder Rocket Internet went public in 2014, which required it to include limited Jumia data in its annual report. The accompanying prospectus to Jumia’s listing this year on the New York Stock Exchange offered the most expansive financial data to date on a tech venture operating in Africa. Prior to this — and still for the most part — companies in the continent’s (mostly) pre-public (earlier-stage) startup hubs — such as Nigeria — provide little to no financial performance info. “Typically, in the local market, we have not seen a lot of voluntary transparency or the availability o...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

Flutterwave and Alipay partner on payments between Africa and China

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave has partnered with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba’s Alipay to offer digital payments between Africa and China. Flutterwave is a Nigerian-founded B2B payments service (primarily) for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad. Alipay is Alibaba’s digital wallet and payments platform. In 2013, Alipay surpassed PayPal in payments volume and currently claims a global network of more than 1 billion active users, per Alibaba’s latest earnings report. A large portion of Alipay’s network is in China, which makes the Flutterwave integration significant to capturing payments activity around the estimated $200 billion in China-Africa trade. “This means that all our merchants can accept or install Alipay as a payment type to accept payments from its billion users,” Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola — aka GB — told TechCrunch. “There’s a lot of trade between Africa and China and this integration makes it easier for African merchants to accept Chinese customer payments.” A Flutterwave company release added, “We’ve managed to connect African countries…to each other so it was about time we connected Africa to the world. We started with the...

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 weeks ago

Africa’s ride-hail markets are hot spots for startups and VC

When it comes to VC, vehicles, and startups, Africa’s ride-hail markets are becoming a multi-wheeled and global affair. The big players such as Uber and Bolt are competing in Kampala and Nairobi—where in addition to car-service—they offer rickshaw taxis. On-demand motorcycle startups are multiplying and piloting EVs with funds from international partners. And many ride-hail companies in Africa are adapting unique product solutions to local transit needs. In this analysis, I take a look at the leading startups in the mobility space and how the future of transportation on the continent will increasingly come from new entrants. Africa’s in the midst of digital innovation boom Africa’s in the midst of digital innovation boom, the components of which are intersecting rapidly across its 54 countries and 1.2 billion people. Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene Smartphone penetration is improving and in 2017, the continent saw the largest global increase in internet users—20 percent. By Partech data, the continent surpassed the $1 billion VC mark in 2018. And greater connectivity and venture funding are fueling thousands of startups in every imaginable sector, including digital-transit. While reliable markets stats for the size and potential of Africa̵...

Other News / Science & Tech - 4 weeks ago

VertoFX raises $2M for its African and EM currency trading platform

VertoFX, an Africa and emerging markets-focused currency trading and payment startup, has raised a $2.1 million seed round, led by Accelerated Digital Ventures. The London-based company, with a subsidiary in Lagos, Nigeria, has created a platform that allows businesses and banks to exchange and make payments in exotic foreign currencies that don’t often convert or trade conveniently across businesses or banks. For example, South Africa’s Rand is Africa’s most convertible and traded currency — with lower spreads and transaction costs — while currencies of countries such as Ethiopia or Egypt may be difficult or expensive to trade or transact B2B payments. “That’s the reason we are utilizing technology to create a marketplace model and price discovery to create liquidity for these currencies,” VertoFX founder Ola Oyetayo told TechCrunch. There are around 40 global currencies that are considered exotic or illiquid, most of them in frontier markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle-East, according to Oyetayo. And there’s a revenue opportunity to creating a convenient online marketplace for trading and payments in these currencies. “Our research says there’s about $400 billion being done by small and medium-scale businesses in Africa...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 month ago

Canal+ acquires Nollywood studio ROK from IROKOtv to grow African film

French television company Canal+ has acquired the ROK film studio from VOD company IROKOtv for an undisclosed amount. Founded by Jason Njoku in 2010 — and backed by $45 million  in VC — IROKOtv boasts the largest online catalog of Nollywood film content in the world. Nollywood is a movie genre popularized in Nigeria that has become Africa’s de facto film industry and one of the largest globally (by production volume). Based in Lagos, ROK film studios was incubated to create original content for IROKOtv, which can be accessed online anywhere in the world. Actress and producer Mary Njoku — IROKOtv CEO Jason Njoku’s wife — founded ROK studios and will stay on as director general under the Canal+ acquisition. Owned by media conglomerate Vivendi, Canal+ looks to give Mary more production resources, without disrupting ROK’s creative chemistry. “We are acquiring the talent of Mary,” Canal+ Chief Content Officer Fabrice Faux told TechCrunch on a call. “We will provide administrative support, finance and equipment, but otherwise it is our intention to give Mary maximum autonomy and creative freedom,” he said. Mrs. Njoku’s creative work so far has led ROK to produce more than 540 movies and 25 original TV series, according to company data. T...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 month ago

Opera founded startup OPay raises $50M for mobile finance in Nigeria

OPay, an Africa-focused mobile payments startup founded by Norwegian browser company Opera, has raised $50 million in funding. Lead investors include Sequoia China, IDG Capital and Source Code Capital. Opera also joined the round in the payments venture it created. OPay will use the capital (which wasn’t given a stage designation) primarily to grow its digital finance business in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy. OPay will also support Opera’s growing commercial network in Nigeria, which includes motorcycle ride-hail app ORide and OFood delivery service. Opera founded OPay in 2018 on the popularity of its internet search engine. Opera’s web-browser has ranked No. 2 in usage in Africa, after Chrome, the last four years. On the payments side, OPay in Nigeria has scaled to 40,000 active agents and $5 million in daily transaction volume. The $50 million investment in OPay is more than just another big round in Africa. It has significance for the continent’s tech ecosystem on multiple levels. To start, OPay’s raise tracks greater influence in African tech from China — whose engagement with African startups has been light compared to China’s deal-making on infrastructure and commodities. OPay founder Opera was acqui...

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