The Africa SMME Tech Report
Issue No. 27. Africa-Middle East local and small business tech news for 8 March 2022. This issue features M-KOPA, Talabat, Jambo, CV VC, MTN Group & more...
This issue of The Africa SMME Tech Report is brought to you by Duda
Freshly Funded M-KOPA Eyes Expansion
The funding round was led by Generation Investment Management and Broadscale Group with participation from CDC Group, LGT Lightrock, LocalGlobe’s Latitude Fund, and HEPCO Capital Management. This capital injection brings M-KOPA’s total equity funding to $190 million.
M-KOPA was founded in 2010 and calls itself a “connected asset financing platform”. What this means is it uses technology like digital micropayments and IoT (Internet-of-Things) connectivity to make financing more accessible. It began this process with solar power, but then has extended it to other products and services, including mobile devices, and appliances like TVs and refrigerators. It also offers consumer loans, healthcare, and more.
The company has served roughly 2 million Africans to date and expects to hit 3 million by the end of 2022.
Last year, the company hired Babajide Duroshola to lead its expansion into Nigeria. He previously ran Nigeria for the ride-hailing service SafeBoda (another East African company that expanded into Nigeria).
M-KOPA already operates in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. And it plans to roll out its service across the African continent.
“We’re thrilled to partner with leading global investors with deep experience supporting growth-stage companies as we expand our platform to serve more of our customers’ needs,” said M-KOPA CEO and Co-founder Jesse Moore.
“Our innovative model means we have enabled financial empowerment for over two million people already through micro-payments, but there are still millions of people across the continent that are stuck with limited economic options. With this funding, we will expand to more markets across Africa and scale to over 10 million customers in the next few years.”
One of the lead investors cited M-KOPA as an innovator in African fintech.
“M-KOPA is not only an inspiring engine of empowerment, it was doing fintech and ‘buy now pay later’ before those were buzzwords,” said Andrew L. Shapiro
Founder & Partner, Broadscale Group.
“This is truly one of the best impact investments we've seen and we're honored to be co-investing with long-time friends and supporting the extraordinary leadership of the M-KOPA team.”
Talabat Sees Huge Online Order Growth
Keywords: UAE, food delivery, quick commerce
Talabat UAE had a big year in 2021, with a 60% rise in orders (across food, groceries, and other items), plus a 30% growth in customers. The company also saw about 2 million new app downloads in 2021.
Non-food orders grew 100% in 2021, representing a significant growth driver for Talabat. Quick commerce was a major part of this, with its Talabat Mart operation seeing a 70% rise in orders while expanding to all seven emirates, leveraging 25 locations. The company works with 17,000 restaurants in the region. It also employs more than 15,000 riders in the UAE.
Quick commerce typically involves using small warehouses (dark stores) strategically placed to fulfill orders in close proximity of the consumer within a promised delivery time.
Talabat is a unit of Delivery Hero and is arguable the German food delivery and logistics company’s strongest operation in the Middle East. Talabat became part of Delivery Hero indirectly. Talabat was nested within Rocket Internet back in 2016 when Delivery Hero scooped that company up for $170 million.
Talabat is also planning soon to move into a brand new 14,000 sqm office in Dubai, which will house up to 2,000 employees.
Web3 ‘Super App’ Jambo Bags $7.5M Round
Keywords: Web3, blockchain, cryptocurrency, seed funding
A recently launched Liberian company called Jambo that calls itself Africa’s Web3 Super App has raised an impressive $7.5 million seed round from prominent crypto-focused investors including Delphi Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, and Three Arrows Capital.
According to Coindesk, “Jambo wants to introduce young Africans to Web 3 financial ecosystems through play-to-earn gaming and decentralized finance (DeFi) services including currency exchanges and remittances.”
Jambo’s website says the company “serves as the bridge between Africa and the applications around the world seeking to tap into the African market. We are building channels to connect users in Africa with web3 ecosystems around the world.”
Jambo’s ambition is to become an African super app built around financial applications like the aforementioned gaming, DeFi, and so on. It’s all being built around Jambo’s digital wallet.
Jambo was founded by DRC native, American-educated James Zhang. He told Coindes that “Honestly, anything that helps in Africa – send money, save money, make money – is what we're testing off of the super app.”
It’s pretty remarkable for a company that is only three months old to raise such a large seed round. This may reflect the growing importance of crypto in Africa, where blockchain-based startups are proliferating.
For example, We spoke recently to CV VC MD, African Gideon Greaves (CV VC is not an investor in Jambo) for the BIG5D Podcast. He talked about the enthusiasm for blockchain as a solution for uniquely African challenges like the high cost of remittances. CV VC invests exclusively in blockchain-based startups.
“The international remittance space…is a big use case for Africa,” Greaves explains.
“If you want to transfer money to Nigeria, it costs about 9%. Right? If you want to transfer money to one of the lesser established countries, economically, like Zimbabwe, it's up to 40%, which is insane. So you've got Zimbabweans, coming down to South Africa to find work here to send money back to their family, the $100 that they've made, they send it back to Zimbabwe, it's only $60. Now crypto can solve that problem, and very easily can you send money to Zimbabwe for next to nothing.”
Greaves told us his Swiss-based VC’s most recent incubator program attracted a disproportionate response from African startups. Greaves recently joined the firms to run its African operations.
“The majority of the applications that we got for the global program came from Africa,” Greaves told us. “So out of all the applications that we got, there were more from Africa than the rest of the world combined. And in fact, the cohort that we just that just graduated Now, last week, I think it was the majority of the startups in that cohort, were also from Africa.”
According to the World Economic Forum, Africa’s cryptocurrency market grew by more than $100 billion between July 2020 and June 2021. That translates into a 1200% growth in value.
BIG5D Podcast Examines Africa’s Blockchain Ecosystem
Greaves, who joined the firm last year, is charged with finding and investing in blockchain-based startups in Africa. But in order to achieve that objective, his Swiss-based firm CV VC also sees its role as creating an ecosystem that will help make these startups more successful.
Greaves will be a speaker at the upcoming BigFive Summit, 11-13 May 2022 in Cape Town.
In fact, his firm’s origins are in hosting startup competitions and hackathons designed to foster blockchain innovation. In that vein, CV VC also launched CV Labs, which Greaves describes as an “ecosystem driver.”
CV Labs offers workspace and advisory services, startup competitions, and other services to support startups.
“For us, it's very important that we grow an ecosystem, especially in new areas like Africa, and South Africa, where we were trying to get all the key participants that form an ecosystem involved,” Greaves said.
An abridged and ad-supported version of the BIG5D Podcast is free to all. Those who want to listen to the entire podcast and prefer an ad-free experience can subscribe for US$5/month.
MTN’s Yolanda Cuba to Address BigFive Summit
We are very excited to add MTN Group’sVP for Southern and East Africa Yolanda Cuba to our list of speakers at the upcoming BigFive Summit in Cape Town.
Yolanda brings a depth of experience in telecom and a broad perspective on Africa’s digital development to the Summit.
Before taking on her current role, Yolanda was MTN’s Group Chief Digital & FinTech Officer. She is also the former CEO of Vodafone Ghana and former Group Chief Strategy Officer for strategy, new business, and M&A at Vodacom Group covering South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC, and Lesotho.
Yolanda was among the youngest-ever CEOs of a JSE-listed company at age 29. The World Economic Forum selected her as one of the Young Global Leaders. And the Institut Choiseul (France) named her to the Choiseul 100 Africa.
Stay tuned for more A-list speaker announcements for the Summit, which is Africa's only event focused on small business digital transformation.
Would you like to sponsor an issue of The Africa SMME Tech Report? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.