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African Startups That Raised $100m and Above in 2021

The African startup ecosystem bounced back in 2021 to raise a mind-blowing $4 billion. Briter Bridges says the total 2020 VC for African startups at $1.31 billion. This is a significant improvement. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that Africa is closing 2021 with 7 unicorns including Jumia, Interswitch, Flutterwave, Andela, Wave, OPay, and Chipper Cash.

Despite the significant increase in funding, we observed that the majority of African startups raised mostly seed and pre-seed funding. That is between $250,000 and $6 million. Meanwhile, African startups that raised $10 million and above in 2021 are about 30 out of the more than 100 startups that got investment. Perhaps, in 2022, the African tech ecosystem will see more startups more series A funding.

Additionally, it is important to state that fintech startups dominated our list of startups that raised more than $10 million in 2021.

This said we take a look at the top 10 African Startups that raised the biggest funding in 2021.

Opay-$400m

Opay, one of Nigeria’s leading fintech startups, raised a $400 million Series C funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The new investment shot Opay’s valuation to $2 billion. Others that participated in the round include Sequoia Capital China, Redpoint China, Source Code Capital, Softbank Ventures Asia, DragonBall Capital, and 3W Capital.

Opay — a one-stop payment platform for consumers’ everyday needs founded in 2018 — previously raised two funding rounds back in 2019 with a $50 million Series A and $120 million Series B. To date, Opay’s latest fundraise is one of the largest among African investments.

With monthly transaction values exceeding $3 billion, according to Bloomberg, Opay is moving toward a mission that will help replace cash and other traditional payment methods to better “improve financial and information security” for local governments in Africa. While it continues its pursuit to expand across the continent, the startup will also focus on setting up shops in the Middle East as well.

OPay

Wave-$200m

The year 2021 saw francophone Africa get its first unicorn in Senegalese-based fintech startup, Wave. Back in September, Wave, a US and Senegalese fintech startup raised $200 million dollars valuing the independent mobile money provider at $1.7 billion.

The Series A round was led by Sequoia Heritage, Founders Fund, Stripe, and Ribbit. Others in the round include existing investors Partech Africa and Sam Altman, the former CEO of Y Combinator and current CEO of OpenAI. Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk founded the startup in 2018.

Andela: $200m

Global network for remote engineering talent, Andela, secured $200 million in Series E financing, which has now placed the value of the company at $1.5 billion, thus making it a unicorn. The round was led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 with participation from new investor Whale Rock and existing investors including Generation Investment Management, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Spark Capital. 

The African-based software development outsourcing company completed a $100 million Series D funding in 2019, secured $40 million in 2017, another $24 million in 2016 from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and $10 million Series A funding in 2015. The total received to date is $381 million according to Crunchbase data.

Through Andela, thousands of engineers have been placed with leading technology companies including Github, Cloudflare and ViacomCBS. The company went remote in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the shutdown of all its offices in Africa and the US.

Flutterwave: $170m

Nigerian payments technology company, Flutterwave, raised $170 million as part of a successful series C round.

The fundraising was led by growth-equity firms Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC with participation from DST Global, Early Capital Berrywood, Green Visor Capital, Greycroft Capital, Insight Ventures, PayPal, Salesforce Ventures, Tiger Management, WorldpayFIS, and 9yards Capital.

Founded by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Olugbenga Agboola and other co-founders in 2016, the company’s valuation is considered to be valued at more than USD $1 billion, thus making it a unicorn. Other Nigerian companies that have surpassed the $1bn valuation mark are Interswitch after a $200m investment from Visa and Jumia ahead of its initial public offering in New York.

The fundraise brings the total investment in Flutterwave to USD $225 million, including the $10 million fundraise in 2017, another $10 million in 2018 and $35 million in January 2020.

The new funds will allow Flutterwave to execute an ambitious growth strategy to become a leading global payments company, empowering SMEs and multinational brands by connecting the highly fragmented African digital payments landscape.

Chipper Cash

Chipper Cash: $150

Chipper Cash, an African cross-border payments company, secured $150 million in a Series C extension round after raising $100 million in May 2021. The new funding extension was led by Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX and joined by other existing investors such as SVB Capital, Deciens Capital, Ribbit Capital, Bezos Expeditions, One Way Ventures and Tribe Capital.

Chipper Cash’s total Series C stands at $250 million and its total funding to date is now over $305 million. With this new funding, CEO Ham Serunjogi confirmed that the company was now valued slightly above $2 billion

Founded by Ham Serunjogi (Uganda) and Maijid Moujaled (Ghana) in October 2018, Chipper Cash offers no-fee, P2P, cross-border mobile-money payments in Africa. It is currently present in seven African countries – Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya – and two non-African countries, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Jumo: $120m

South African fintech, Jumo, raised $120 million in a new funding round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, with participation from fintech giant Visa and London-based investment management firm Kingsway Capital. Jumo has so far raised over $200 million.

Jumo said the new fundraise will support the scaling of JUMO’s platform capacity, enabling the company to evolve its services and increase the number of financial products on offer to SMEs, as well as providing longer-term lending options for merchants and bigger businesses. It will also support JUMO’s international expansion in new markets such as Nigeria and Cameroon.  

Founded in 2014 by South African entrepreneur, Andrew Watkins-Ball, JUMO is a tech startup that has created a unique platform to help facilitate digital financial services such as credit, and savings in emerging markets.

TradeDepot

TradeDepot: $110M

TradeDepot was one of the few non-fintech startups that closed 2021’s largest funding round. The startup which connects consumer goods brands to thousands of retailers and helps out with distribution, raised $110 million in new equity and debt funding round as it looks to bring in more retail stores and expand its Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) service across the continent.

The Series B funding is coming almost eighteen months after raising $10 million co-led by Partech Africa and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The Series B equity round was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group, with participation from Novastar, Sahel Capital, CDC Group, Endeavor Catalyst, and existing investors, Partech and MSA Capital. The debt funding was led by Arcadia Funds.

The new funding will expedite the delivery of this service to more retailers, increasing penetration for consumer goods brands and driving prosperity in one of the continent’s most critical sectors.

TymeBank: $110m

South African digital bank TymeBank secured an investment amounting to $110 million, attracting new investors from the UK and Philippines. The new investors in TymeBank are Apis Growth Fund II, a private equity fund managed by Apis Partners (Apis), and JG Summit Holdings (JG Summit), which is one of the largest and renowned conglomerates in the Philippines. It recently raised $70 million from Tencent and CDC Group to extend its Series B and close it at $180 million.

TymeBank is the first bank in South Africa to be operated fully off a cloud-based infrastructure network. It was also the first bank to be granted a commercial banking license since 1999.

TymeBank currently boasts some 2.8 million customers and is expected to reach a milestone of 3 million customers by the end of March 2021. This month the bank is celebrating its 2nd anniversary, having officially launched on 26 February 2019.

TymeBank onboards an average of 110,000 new customers per month, making it globally recognized for digital banking in emerging markets. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to increased demand across all customer income groups in South Africa for digital banking options. This supports TymeBank’s goal to grow its customer base to 4 million by 2022.

MFS Africa: $100m

MFS Africa raised $100 million in Series-C funding round co-led by a private equity fund AfricInvest FIVE and existing investors, Goodwell Investments and LUN Partners Group. Other investors that participated in the round include new investors such as CommerzVentures, Allan Gray Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst and Endeavor Harvest and an existing investor, ShoreCap III.

The new funding consists of $70 million equity and $30 million debt and will enable MFS Africa to hire additional talent in Africa and globally to support its exponential growth. The funding will also be used to continue strengthening the company’s Governance, Risks and Compliance (GRC) functions as well as its treasury and liquidity pool.

MFS Africa says it will be continuing to invest in fintechs across the African payment ecosystem. The company recently signed an agreement to acquire Baxi one of Nigeria’s leading super-agent networks, heralding its entry into Nigeria.