In the year 2020, the world was brought on its knees when the Coronavirus pandemic perpetuated itself across all walks of life, bringing every business activity to a halt. African startups that had had much success in the outgone year of 2019 were hit hard by the pandemic. As it is the usual saying that, “desperate times require desperate measures”, several startups have risen to the challenge, creating solutions that bridge the disruption of the pandemic.
Moving forward, the year 2021 brought with it much optimism in which many African startups are riding on. In this article, we focus on ten (10) most innovative and promising African startups that will likely shine in 2021.
mPharma was established in 2013 and is all about providing affordable and safe medicine for Africa. This health startup currently operates in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya. It has had an impressive run in the last couple of years and has fared very well in a business environment dominated by tech startups.
In January 2019, mPharma raised a $12m Series B, followed by $13m Series C in January 2020, and $17m in May 2020. So far, the startup appears to be growing its distributing network and is gradually building a long chain of pharmaceutical products that have never been seen in Africa.
With total funding of $55.5m and offices scattered across Africa, mPharma is the number 1 startup to follow in 2021.
ChipperCash is a Fintech startup that went live in 2018 and had just 600,000 users as of 2019 December. The following year, the startup boasted 3 million users and offices in Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana.
Founded initially as Chipper Cash, the cross-border fintech startup had a great run in 2020 as it reached a monthly payment’s value of $100 million, according to CEO Ham Serunjogi.
The startup also raised a $13.8m Series A funding despite the coronavirus pandemic that affected most firms, startups, and established firms inclusive. To top it off, Chipper raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by venture capital firm Ribbit Capital, with the participation of Bezos Expeditions, the personal VC fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. And the startup is launching a cryptocurrency trading service due to the high demand for cryptocurrencies, allowing users to be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies as well as U.S. stocks, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, through the app.
Sokowatch was launched in 2016 in Kenya, and since coming into the scene, the startup has opened offices in Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The startup earned the name “Tajir of Africa” and is all about linking small stores to the inventory they need to survive.
Sokowatch is a startup you should watch out for in 2021 as it was able to raise a $15m Series A round in February 2020. With this amount raised comes an increase in the scope of services it is offering. Its additional services include analytics, as well as credit services for the smallest businesses in Africa. So far, SokoWatch has raised $18.6m and is expected to have an impressive run in 2021.
Komaza is a tech-enabled, sustainable forestry company that is revolutionizing the wood industry in Africa through its innovative smallholder platform that benefits over 2million farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa while doubling existing tree cover across all operating landscapes.
The Kenya-based company has planted over 6 million trees with 25,000 smallholder farmers to date and is well on its way towards its goal of planting one billion trees by 2030 after it secured $28m of the company’s planned $33m Series B equity financing.
Komaza also plans to leverage its Series B funding to:
- Expand from its first site on Kenya’s coast to two additional locations across East Africa.
- Add a new direct-to-farmer app to drive enrollment and increase farmer access to best practices.
- Develop remote sensing and AI pilot for automated monitoring of their farms.
Away from the sub-Saharan region, Vezeeta, the leading doctor booking platform of the Middle East & North Africa, aims to set the stage for more interest in healthcare funding on the continent.
The startup which currently operates in 50 cities across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon raised $40 million in a Series D round and claims to generate 4 million annual appointments which it says are tripling year over year. They plan to use the money to support their growth plans, including rolling out the new digital capabilities of ePharmacy and telehealth across its existing footprint and new markets.
Farmcrowdy, a Nigerian agri-tech startup, was founded in 2016 with the aim of empowering farmers by connecting them to alternative financing and market access via a crowdfunding platform. The company has launched other successful products and subsidiaries such as Crowdyvest and Plentywaka.
In commemoration of its fourth year anniversary, Farmcrowdy has announced the launch of these businesses along with the introduction of two major platforms, the Farmcrowdy Foods E-Commerce platform and the Farmcrowdy Trader platform (Flagship platform under Farmcrowdy Aggregation).
With the unprecedented Covid19 pandemic, there has been a lot of focus on the healthcare industry in Africa. 54gene is one of the few companies in Africa, disrupting the healthcare space.
In 2019, 54gene was created to tackle the substantial gap in the global market for genomics. In April 2020, the company raised a $15M Series A to further broaden and recruit its biobank capability around the organization.
54gene is projected to accelerate its growth even further with a greater emphasis on healthcare and genetics.
Sendy, a Kenyan company is an on-demand platform that links customers to drivers and cars for the delivery of goods. Sendy provides services for large corporations such as Safaricom, Maersk, Unilever, Jumia, DHL, etc. With over 27 million USD generated in funding, Sendy is expected to have a promising 2021.
With its multi-currency e-wallet, Uganda’s fintech Eversend has been growing rapidly for a few years. Eversend, is a digital-only finance platform offering, among other services and cross-border money transfers.
With over 40,000 registered users and a monthly growth rate of 30%, the company closed an oversubscribed Seedrs crowdfunding campaign that has secured an investment of EUR 897,000 (US$ 1,015 million).
In 2019, Kenya’s Amitruck unveiled its P2P logistics marketplace for trucking, seeking to disrupt the country’s daunting and unreliable road transport network by directly linking carriers with cargo owners.
The company, initially self-funded, obtained funding and company building support from GreenTec Capital Partners in April 2020 and has also participated in a number of accelerators, most recently the Africa Transformative Mobility Accelerator.
In the first year of the startup, its mobile app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, and sales have increased by 300 percent over 12 months. These numbers are quite impressive and we believe these numbers will skyrocket in 2021.
The company currently operates only in Kenya, but it plans to expand across East Africa and beyond.