The year 2021 was a great one for start-ups globally, and for Africa in particular. The continent saw total venture funding exceed two and a half times what it was in 2020. Some tech companies achieved unicorn status and we shall get to see these later in this article with more details.
This figure of funding amounted to an impressive $4.77 billion. This translates to an average of $1 million raised every two hours. As far as distribution is concerned, 30 African nations raised at least $100k in funding across the year.
The ‘Big Four’ countries, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya, received 81% of the investments. Out of the eight unicorns in Africa, five of them (Flutterwave, Andela, ChipperCash, Opay, and Wave) attained unicorn status in 2021 despite Jumia & Interswitch having attained it a few years back.
What is a Unicorn in regards to Tech?
Unicorn companies are those that reach a valuation of $1 billion without being listed on the stock market and are the dream of any tech startup.
In simple terms, a unicorn startup is a secretly held startup with a worth of more than $1 billion. Unicorn businesses are ordinarily tech new businesses, however, what makes them exceptional is that they develop their worth into billions rapidly, with assistance from financial speculators and different financial backers.
Now, if you are still wondering which acronym is this, yes it is my coined acronym in regards to the big five unicorns in Africa. I am very sure you have heard or seen FAANG or FAAMG around the internet and especially if you are tech-savvy.
So the FACOW is my original coining of such companies in Africa that have recently gained a 1$ Billion evaluation. The companies that have achieved unicorn status in Africa include; These are not in any particular order.
Flutterwave is a Nigerian fintech company that provides a payment infrastructure for global merchants and payment service providers across the continent.
Flutterwave, a specialized programming accomplice for banks and monetary administrations suppliers utilizes Payment Account Attributes Inquiry, Foreign Exchange Rates, and Visa Direct to bring the comfort of new highlights like computerized financial transactions & installments to customers across Africa and beyond.1
Andela is a worldwide work position network for programming engineers. Andela centers around reasonable vocations, interfacing technologists with long-haul commitment, admittance to global jobs, serious remuneration, and professional training through the Andela Learning Community.
I am personally part of Andela and hope to reap its benefits soon.
Chipper Cash was founded in San Francisco in 2018 by Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled. The company offers mobile-based, no-charge, P2P payment services in seven countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya.
It is a venture-capital-backed Financial technology company that builds software to enable free and instant Peer-to-peer Cross-border payments in Africa and Europe; as well as solutions for businesses and merchants to process online and in-store payments.
OPAY which means Official Payment is one of Africa's leading fintech companies based in Nigeria.
It is a one-stop mobile-based platform for payment, transportation, food & grocery delivery, and other important services in your everyday life. Millions of users rely on OPay every day to send and receive money, pay bills, and order food and groceries.
Wave provides the technical platform and a network made up of sub-agents and merchants, for the management of business operations and the distribution of electronic money through the “Wave” service.
It is rapidly growing its teams in Senegal, Côte D'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Uganda, plus remote team members spread across the world. Wave is deeply passionate about its mission of bringing radically affordable financial services to the people who need them most.
Jumia & Interswitch: The Other two unicorns?
Barely three years prior Jumia, known as the Amazon or Alibaba of Africa turned into the principal significant African tech organization to open up to the world on the New York Stock Exchange. From that point forward the battle has been genuine for the online e-commerce that once worked in 14 African nations, and recently held a $3 billion valuation, has now been wrecked to $250 million.
Jumia was the first Unicorn in Africa having been founded in 2012. I did not include Jumia on my list because it has not received funding since 2019. The fact that it still holds the Unicorn status is debated among many and to be on the safe side, I excluded it.
Interswitch which was founded in 2002 is located in Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria. It is an African-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company that facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organizations on a timely and consistent basis.
Interswitch attained its unicorn status in 2019 after Visa acquired a minority equity stake of about 200M$ in the company.
The myth that 9 out of 10 new companies will undoubtedly flop because of reasons attached to fierce opposition, imperfect plan of action, cost issues, and inability to raise capital is quickly turning into a banality.
Once again, hope you learned something today from my little closet.
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