Kenyan start ups have raised Ksh.29.9 billion in the last two years
As most companies recover from the upheaval owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenyan start ups have seen big gains from global investors since 2021.
A look at just 20 firms reveals a total of Ksh.29.9 billion ($259.1 million) capital raised within this period, the most beneficiaries being fintechs (financial technology firms).
In 2021 alone, over Ksh.25.8 billion ($222 million) in seed capital was raised by just 13 firms that we looked at.
This year, 20 startups have raised Ksh.25.8 billion ($223 million) so far, according to Disrupt Africa’s annual African Tech Startups Funding Report which captured investment data up to March 1.
Kenya is among the high-interest destinations for venture capitalists in the continent, and the local start-up ecosystem moved from being ranked fourth last year to second in 2022, just behind Nigeria.
In comparison, Nigeria reported a combined Ksh.42 billion ($364.6 million) from 33 start ups in 2022.
Also worth noting is that fintechs account for 38,7% of the total investment channeled into the continent this year.
Below are some of the Kenyan start ups that have raised considerable amount of funding in the last two years:
E-commerce food distribution platform Twiga raised Ksh.5.6 billion ($50 million) from a Series C round to scale its efforts across the country and other neighbouring countries.
Twiga said the funding, which came after the company’s Ksh.3.3 billion ($30 million) Series B round - Ksh.2.6 billion ($23.75 million) equity and Ksh.695 million ($6.25 million) debt — in 2019, would be used to roll out low-cost manufactured food and non-food products under its brand before the end of the year.
Twiga claims to have over 100,000 registered customers and delivers to 10,000 clients daily. It also boasts of 700 employees and has a network of over 8,000 farmers.
E-commerce start-up Copia Global raised $50 million from a Series C equity round led by Goodwell Investments, which also saw the participation of Zebu Investment Partners, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Koa Labs, Lightrock, German development finance institution DEG, as well as Perivoli Innovations.
MarketForce, a tech start-up seeking to digitize Africa’s mostly cash-based retail payments, closed its Ksh.225 million ($2 million) pre-Series-A round.
MarketForce said it was planning to launch RejaReja in Nigeria and increase it across more towns in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
In February this year, the firm raked in another $40 million from a Series A round funding reported to be the largest Series A round in East and Central Africa.
The funding was led by V8 Capital Partners and saw the participation of Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, Vu Ventures, Vastly Valuable Ventures, Uncovered Fund, alongside other existing investors.
The startup, through its B2B a B2B e-commerce marketplace RejaReja, enables informal merchants to source goods directly from manufacturers and distributors as well as placing and paying for orders digitally.
It boasts of a client base of such companies as Pepsi, Safaricom and Platinum Credit, among others.
This agri-tech startup raised $40 million in equity funding from a Series B round led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 and saw the participation of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Yara Growth Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, CDC, as well as Anthemis Exponential Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Leaps by Bayer, SBI, Breyer Capital and TO Ventures Food.
Launched in 2017, Apollo builds credit profiles for small-scale farmers using machine learning models. The company verifies the identity of farmers and takes satellite coordinates of their fields.
The startup then uses the data to build automated digital processes for each step in a farmer’s life cycle, from customer acquisition through training to collecting the payment.
Poa Internet, a local internet service provider targeting homes and small businesses in Nairobi’s low and middle-income neighborhoods, secured $28 million.
In 2020, the company beat out 673 other startups to win an innovation challenge hosted by Africa50, an infrastructure financier backed by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Group.
Poa Internet raised the amount in a Series C funding round, taking the total amount it has raised since winning the challenge to $36 million (Ksh.4.084 billion).
Tech credit platform Lipa Later raked in $12 million from a pre-Series A funding.
The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service partners with retailers to allow shoppers to pay in installments and operates in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Cauris Finance, Lateral Frontiers VC, GreenHouse Capital, SOSV IV LLC, Sayani Investments and Axian Financial Services participated in the equity and debt funding.
Pula - Ksh.674 million
Insurance technology start-up Pula closed a Series A investment of Ksh.674 million ($6 million) in a round led by TLcom Capital.
Pula focuses on agricultural insurance digital products for smallholder farmers in an effort to mitigate climate risks, improve farming practices and boost returns.
Tech-enabled logistics start-up Amitruck secured $4 million seed funding from a round led by California-based Better Tomorrow Ventures.
Dynamo Ventures, Rackhouse Venture Capital, Flexport Inc, Knuru Capital, Launch Africa Ventures, Uncovered Fund also participated in the funding.
Amitruck links shippers with transporters operating trucks, vans, tuk-tuks, pick-ups and motorbikes, allowing them to negotiate the transport charges and do away with the middleman.
The platform also enables clients to customize options in the services offered, such as off-loading costs, and all goods transported are insured.
The business-to-consumer (B2C) company provides a platform for rural, middle to low-income consumers to order products that are delivered at their convenience.
Fintech Kwara secured Ksh.451.6 million (US$4 million) in seed capital to help SACCOs in the country shift to online banks by providing them with its proprietary Back-end-as-a-service (BaaS) software.
The money, Kwara said, would enable it build a neobank app to enable individuals sign-up with their preferred SACCO to access various financial services, expanding the unions’ methods of signing up new members and help them shift away from tedious paper-based systems and the need for elaborate brick-and-mortar branches.
“We want to make credit unions as efficient as they can be by giving their members the kind of neobank experiences they wish to have,” Kwara co-founder and CEO Cynthia Wandia told TechCrunch.
Kenyan Electric Vehicle (EV) startup BasiGo in February announced that it has raised $3,370,000 three months after its launch.
The round led by Novastar Ventures saw the participation of Moxxie Ventures, Nimble Partners, Spring Ventures, Climate Capital and Third Derivative, among others.
The EV manufacturer had also raised Ksh.106 million ($930,000) in a pre-seed round last year.
Fast-moving consumer goods start up Tushop raised $3 million in a pre-seed round.
Founded in 2021, the company’s platform enables customers to buy groceries online at more affordable prices compared to supermarkets, local retailers and ‘mama mbogas.’
Tushop uses community leaders who collect orders from their neighbours and handle door-to-door deliveries, with an added free delivery perk.
The round was led by 4DX Ventures and saw the participation of JAM Fund, Breyer Capital, Chandaria Capital, TO Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, FirstCheck Africa, and DFS Lab, among others.
Wowzi, a platform which turns social media users into brand influencers, acquired Ksh.321 million ($3.2 million).
The capital was the sum from a seed round led by 4DX Ventures, which raised Ksh.226M ($2 million) and an earlier Ksh.135M ($1.2 million) pre-seed round.
Wowzi said the seed would go towards setting up operations in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as exploring more opportunities beyond Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, where it currently operates.
The platform links brands with social media users for marketing campaigns, a bold departure from the use of celebrities.
It argues that using regular internet users to push products on their social media platforms creates “more authentic engagements or product endorsements.”
Pariti, a community-led marketplace building the digital infrastructure for start ups, raked in over Ksh.320 million ($2.85M) from American venture capital firm Harlem Capital.
The company connects start-up founders in emerging markets to resources, talent and capital through an online platform where freelance consultants conduct deal management and due diligence functions for companies.
According to its co-founder and CEO Yacob Berhane, the funding would allow it to build SaaS workflows to aggregate multiple forms of raising capital, from traditional equity and debt to DeFi solutions.
Wapi Pay, the Kenyan fintech start-up owned by the Ndichu twins Paul and Eddie, raised Ksh.244 million ($2.2 million) pre-seed investment to scale up global payments and remittances between Africa and Asia.
The firm facilitates payments in Africa and Asia via mobile money platforms and bank accounts.
Wapi Pay, which claimed a 396% year-on-year growth since 2019, reportedly works with local banks and platforms in China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
The investment involved venture firms MSA Capital, EchoVC, Kepple Africa and Future Hub Transsion Holdings and Gobi Ventures.
Kepple Africa Ventures, however, relinquished its investment stake in Wapi Pay in October last year following a viral video appearing to show the Ndichu brothers in the middle of a scuffle at a Nairobi hotel.
Takahiro Kamisaki, Kepple Africa Ventures’ General Partner said the Japanese VC firm has zero tolerance for incidents of assault.
Workpay Limited – Ksh.242 million
Workpay raised Ksh.242 million ($2.1 million) to enable it expand into the West African region.
The start up provides businesses with tools for managing their Human Resource, payroll, compliance and benefits.
Asilimia - Ksh.225 million
The Kenyan start up secured over Ksh.225 million ($2 million) pre-seed to expand its financial lending services app Leja.
Asilimia enables traders to make mobile money transactions that are devoid of transfer and said the capital would enable it to extend loans to traders in informal businesses, who are regarded as high risk by the traditional banks.
Lami Technologies, a Kenyan insurance technology firm which uses a B2B2C approach to facilitate the distribution of insurance, raised over Ksh.202 million ($1.8 million) seed money from a round led by Accion Venture Lab.
Lami uses an API, to enable businesses like banks, start-ups and organizations to offer digital insurance products to their users.
The product can also be used by partner businesses to manage their own insurance needs.
Lami has worked with companies like Britam, Pioneer and Madison Insurance and told TechCrunch that it would use the seed investment to hire more people, improve its technology and grow its presence across Africa.
AI-driven influencer marketing firm AIfluence raised over Ksh.112 million ($1 million) in a seed investment led by Dubai-based EQ2 Ventures.
The company matches influencers to brands, runs end to end influencer marketing campaigns and brings transparency to the measurement of impact.
AIfluence’s platform is built on a trust network model where it deploys thousands of nano influencers and followers who have a natural affinity to a brand and exhibit a high emotional connection with the target audience, according to TechCrunch.
At the time, the firm said it was working on a SaaS offering that would “place the power of the platform in the hands of its customers.”
Food-tech start-up Kune closed a Ksh.112M ($1 million) pre-seed round in June last year ahead of the launch of its on-demand food service in August.
Led by Pan-African venture capital firm Launch Africa Ventures,the pre-seed round saw participation from Century Oak Capital GmbH and Consonance, and a contribution from Pariti.
Kune meals are freshly cooked and packaged in its factory and delivered directly to online, retail and corporate customers at arguably affordable prices.
Craydel, a Kenyan platform for comparing colleges, course options and tuition fees, raised over Ksh.112 million ($1 million) in a pre-seed round led by Enza Capital.
The firm said the money would be used to improve its search and recommendation technology and enhance its online resources to help students and professionals in decision making.
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