Category : Science & Tech

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 days ago

Acquisitions, more than IPOs, will create Africa’s early startup successes

Africa has made its global IPO debut. Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia—a $1 billion-valued company—began trading live on the NYSE last week. The stock offering made Jumia the first upstart operating in Africa to list on a major global exchange. This raises expectations for unicorns and IPOs to create the continent’s first wave of startup moguls. But unlike other markets, big public listings and nine-figure valuations could remain rare in Africa. The rise of venture arms and startup acquisitions will factor more prominently than IPOs in creating Africa’s early startup successes. I’ll break down why. First, a quick briefer. Primer on African tech Not everyone may be aware, but yes, Africa has a booming tech scene. When measured by monetary values, it’s minuscule by Shenzen or Silicon Valley standards.

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 week ago

African e-commerce startup Jumia’s shares open at $14.50 in NYSE IPO

Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange today, with shares beginning trading at $14.50 under ticker symbol JMIA. This comes four weeks after CEO Sacha Poignonnec confirmed the IPO to TechCrunch and Jumia filed SEC documents. With the public offering, Jumia becomes the first startup from Africa to list on a major global exchange. In an updated SEC filing, Jumia indicated it is offering 13,500,000 ADR shares for an opening price spread of $13 to $16 per share, representing 17.6 percent of all company shares. The IPO could raise up to $216 million for the internet venture. Since the original announcement (and reflected in the latest SEC docs), Mastercard Europe pre-purchased $50 million in Jumia ordinary shares. The IPO creates another milestone for Jumia. The company in 2016 became the first African startup unicorn, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a funding round that included Goldman Sachs, AXA and MTN. There’s a lot to break down on Jumia’s going public. The company is often dubbed the “Amazon of Africa,” and like Amazon, Jumia comes with its own mixed buzz. Jumia’s SEC F-1 prospectus offers us more insight into the venture, and perhaps any startup from Africa, thus far. About Jumia Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 week ago

DHL launches Africa eShop app for global retailers to sell into Africa

DHL is launching an e-commerce app called DHL Africa eShop for global retailers to sell goods to Africa’s consumers markets. The platform goes live today and brings more than 200 U.S. and U.K. retailers — from Neiman Marcus to Carters — online in 11 African markets: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Sierra Leone and Uganda. DHL Africa eShop will operate using startup MallforAfrica.com’s white label service, Link Commerce. Payment methods will include local fintech options, such as Nigeria’s Paga and Kenya’s M-Pesa. The announcement comes as e-commerce in Africa has seen some ups and downs — with online sales startup Jumia announcing an IPO, while several Africa digital retail ventures have recently faltered. DHL Africa eShop takes advantage of the shipping giant’s existing delivery structure on the continent, able to get goods to doorsteps near and far through its DHL Express shipping, tracking and courier service. DHL’s partner for the new app, MallforAfrica, has experience collaborating with DHL and a number of big-name retailers, including Macy’s and Best Buy. Backed by Helios Investment Partners, MFA was founded in 2011 to solve challenges global consumer goods companies face when entering Afric...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 week ago

6 things to know before you buy the Nokia 6.1 Plus

The Nokia 6.1 Plus, announced in July 2018 and released in August 2018, is one of the more recent in a line of pure Android (Android One) smartphones by HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones. Before I get to the crux of this quick review, let’s quickly run through the specifications. Specifications Screen size- […]

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

Partnering with Visa, emerging market lender Branch International raises $170 million

The San Francisco-based startup Branch International, which makes small personal loans in emerging markets, has raised $170 million and announced a partnership with Visa to offer virtual, pre-paid debit cards to Branch client networks in Africa, South-Asia and Latin America.  Branch — which has 150 employees in San Francisco, Lagos, Nairobi, Mexico City and Mumbai — makes loans starting at $2 to individuals in emerging and frontier markets. The company also uses an algorithmic model to determine credit worthiness, build credit profiles and offer liquidity via mobile phones. “We’ll use [the money] to deepen existing business in Africa. Later this year we’ll announce high-yield savings accounts…in Africa,” says Branch co-founder and chief executive Matt Flannery. The $170 million round from Foundation Capital and its new debit card partner, Visa, will support Branch’s international expansion, which could include Brazil and Indonesia, according to Flannery. Branch launched in Mexico and India within the last year. In Africa, it offers its services in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. A potential Branch customer The Branch-Visa partnership will allow individuals to obtain virtual Visa accounts with which to create accounts on Branch’s app. This...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

Africa Roundup: Jumia files for IPO, OneFi acquires Amplify, FlexClub expands in Mexico

Less than a decade ago IPOs, acquisitions and global expansion by African startups were more possibility than reality. March saw all three from the continent’s tech scene. Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, per SEC documents and confirmation from chief executive Sacha Poignonnec. In an updated filing, (since the March 12 original) Jumia indicated it will offer 13,500,000 ADR shares, for an offering price of $13 to $16 per share to trade under the ticker symbol “JMIA.” The IPO could raise up to $216 million for Jumia. Since our first story (and reflected in the latest SEC docs), Mastercard Europe agreed upfront to buy $50 million in Jumia ordinary shares. With a smooth filing process, Jumia will become the first African startup to list on a major global exchange. The company is incorporated in Germany, but maintains its headquarters in Nigeria, and operates exclusively in Africa, with 4,000 employees on the continent. The pending IPO creates another milestone for Jumia. The venture became the first African startup unicorn in 2016, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a funding round that included Goldman Sachs, AXA and MTN. Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket Internet backing, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals in 1...

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 weeks ago

Dakar Network Angels begins startup investments in francophone Africa

The Dakar Network Angels group launched this month, making its first investment in francophone Africa to cleantech venture Coliba. The Ivorian startup — which uses a mobile app to coordinate waste recycling — will receive mentorship and a minimum of $25,000 in seed funds. The deal is part of Dakar Network Angels’ mission of convening experts and capital to bridge the resource gap for startups in French-speaking Africa — or 24 of the continent’s 54 countries. The organization — which goes by DNA for short — will offer seed fund investments of between $25,000 to $100,000 to early-stage ventures with high growth potential. These rounds will come with the entrepreneurial guidance of DNA’s angel network. Launched in Senegal, the organization’s founder is Marieme Diop, a VC investor at Orange Digital Ventures. Speaking to TechCrunch, Diop underscored VC disparities between francophone and non-francophone Africa as the primary driver for launching DNA. She pointed to funding data by Partech indicating that 76 percent of investment to African startups goes to three English-speaking countries — Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Of the $1.1 billion in equity funding to African tech ventures in 2019, only $54 million — or .05 percent — went to startups in French-speaking co...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 month ago

Nigerian fintech startup OneFi acquires payment company Amplify

Lagos based online lending startup OneFi is buying Nigerian payment solutions company Amplify for an undisclosed amount. OneFi will take over Amplify’s IP, team, and client network of over 1000 merchants to which Amplify provides payment processing services, OneFi CEO Chijioke Dozie told TechCrunch. The move comes as fintech has become one of Africa’s most active investment sectors and startup acquisitions—which have been rare—are picking up across the continent. The purchase of Amplify caps off a busy period for OneFi. Over the last seven months the Nigerian venture secured a $5 million lending facility from Lendable, announced a payment partnership with Visa, and became one of first (known) African startups to receive a global credit rating. OneFi is also dropping the name of its signature product, Paylater, and will simply go by OneFi (for now). Collectively, these moves represent a pivot for OneFi away from operating primarily as a digital lender, toward becoming an online consumer finance platform. “We’re not a bank but we’re offering more banking services…Customers are now coming to us not just for loans but for cheaper funds transfer, more convenient bill payment, and to know their credit scores,” said Dozie. OneFi will add payment options for clients on social media apps...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 month ago

Seven Africa-focused startups present at Y Combinator’s Demo Day

The seven Africa-focused companies that presented as part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 class of 200 startups may seem like a small percentage for such a large class, but it represents the growing significance of African ventures in YC’s universe. Since 2016, the Silicon Valley accelerator — which provides seed funds and mentorship for early-stage startups — has backed 25 companies located in Africa, and another 10 with an Africa product focus, according to YC spokesperson Lindsay Amos. Past YC Africa alumns covered here at TechCrunch include payments startup Paystack, logistics firm Kobo360 and VOD startup Afrostream (now shuttered). Of the seven Africa-oriented YC class that presented at Demo Day 2019, five originated in Nigeria and one in Tanzania. Six are fintech ventures, with products targeted across currency trading, agriculture, healthcare and education. Here’s the skinny on the Africa-focused startups that presented at Demo Day 2019. Nala (Tanzania): A fintech service building internet-free mobile payments for Africa, Nala lets users pay bills, do P2P payments and purchase cell phone minutes without an internet connection. The startup’s app is one of Google PlayStore’s Top Free Finance Apps in Tanzania, according to founder Benjamin Fernandes. Nala plan...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 month ago

South Africa’s FlexClub raises $1.2M, partners with Uber Mexico

FlexClub, a South African startup that matches investors and drivers to cars for ride-hailing services, closed a $1.2 million seed round led by CRE Venture Capital. The company will use the financing to add team members and expand off the continent through a partnership with Uber Mexico. The move comes as Africa’s tech-transit space continues to produce unique mobility solutions shaped around local needs. FlexClub touts itself as a “gig economy investment platform” that is creating new asset classes in emerging markets, according to chief executive and co-founder Tinashe Ruzane. That asset class, for now, is ride-hail vehicles. FlexClub allows investors to go on the site and purchase a car (ultimately managed and serviced by FlexClub). The startup then connects that car to an Uber driver who uses earnings to pay a weekly rental charge. Those fees generate monthly, fixed-rate interest income for the investor. The driver has the option of buying the car after the 12 months, with a descending purchase price over time. FlexClub’s platform manages the investment, rental income, and disbursement of funds across all parties. The startup also handles insurance, maintenance, and upkeep of the cars. Ruzane envisions this as a model to finance multiple asset classes in emerging markets ...

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