Stears, a Nigerian data and intelligence startup, has raised $3.3 million in a seed round led by MaC Ventures. The round was joined by Serena Williams‘ investment company, Serena Ventures, Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Cascador, and Hoaq Club.

The startup plans to use the investment to enhance its data collection and analytics capabilities, talent acquisition and expansion to East and Southern Africa.

Founded in 2017 by Preston Ideh, Abdul Abdulrahim, Foluso Ogunlana, and Michael Famoroti, Stears is a digital information company built to help individuals, development organisations, investors, governments and companies cost-effectively access high-quality information on Africa from anywhere in the world.

Preston Ideh, co-founder of Stears said: “We know global professionals need our data and insight because banks, research firms, development organizations, and investors are already using our early products. Our customers tell us we are building a ‘systemically important’ company to address Africa’s data problem.

“Globally, information providers like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have built data powerhouses, which act as information gateways to Western markets. We are executing an African version of this model, focused on the often missing, outdated, or poorly digitized African datasets needed by operators, finance and policy professionals, researchers, and even regulators.”

Co-founder and managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital, Marlon Nichols, said “Africa is home to the first humans and is now the next frontier for business. Many multinational corporations and governments understand this to be a reality.

“They also appreciate that several African countries are subject to unique business processes and are primarily cash-based economies, which results in understated GDP, among other things. Stears is uniquely positioned to provide the proprietary and accurate data needed to unlock trade and deeper business relationships with African countries and companies.”

Serena Williams of Serena Ventures said: “One of the reasons I invested in Stears is not because of my love and appreciation for Africa, but because Stears has strategically thought of how to increase the investment community on the continent. Better and more transparent business and financial data is expected to lead to more investment on the African continent.

“Stears has shown a deep appreciation of the complexities involved in solving this problem for global professionals. Through a combination of technology and data, Stears is well placed to leverage the massive data opportunity on the continent.”

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