The Carlyle Group Invests $40 million in Wakanow.com, West Africa’s Struggling Online Travel Agency

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Wakanow Limited, Nigeria’s struggling travel business with a strong presence in West Africa and an increasingly growing reach across the African continent has raised funding from the Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager with $212 billion of assets under management.

Carlyle has expertise in various industries, including: aerospace, defense & government services, consumer & retail, energy, financial services, healthcare, industrial, real estate, technology & business services, telecommunications & media and transportation. The group invested $40 million in Wakanow.com Limited, for an undisclosed stake.

According to Idris Mohammed, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group,: “Wakanow has experienced incredible growth since inception, disrupting the travel market and taking market share both online and offline. We believe that this strong growth trajectory will continue as Wakanow benefits from an expanding middle class across the continent in addition to increasing internet penetration and mobile connectivity, which is driving increased online traffic. We look forward to working with Wakanow’s management team to help them deliver on their vision for growth and expansion.”

Founded in 2009 in Nigeria, Wakanow is one of West Africa’s largest full-service online travel companies, providing its customers with a one-stop online booking portal for flights, hotels, holiday packages, and other travel services and ancillaries.

Complementing their online offering, Wakanow also operates a network of traditional brick-and-mortar travel centres and has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, UAE and the UK. The company offers an increasing set of products to address the holiday making desires of the African consumer, while showcasing and offering the Africa holiday experience to the rest of the world.

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Its partnerships with key global players in the travel space make it a one-stop travel solution at a competitive price point. The company employs over a 100 people and operates offices in strategic locations across the continent.

Wakanow enjoys strong brand recognition and a scale advantages in its local markets. This investment adds to Carlyle’s experience in the online travel sector, where it has invested in companies such as C-trip, one of the major online travel agencies operating across China, the Latin American travel and tour operator CVC Brasil, and Vasco Turismo, one of the largest travel operations groups in Peru.

Obinna Ekezie, Co-Founder and CEO, Wakanow, said: “We are excited to partner with Carlyle as we continue to grow and expand in Africa and beyond. Carlyle’s global footprint and scale as well as its extensive experience and network in the online travel sector will help us to further develop our offerings and broaden our customer base.”

Mayowa Ayodele, Chief Investment Officer, Platform Capital, one of Wakanow’s lead investors, said: “We are happy to partner with Carlyle and look forward to working together with them to strengthen Wakanow’s market position, accelerate innovation, deepen its systems and processes to realize the vision of a truly world class online travel agency with African roots.”