The startup scene in Africa has been growing, and shows no signs of slowing down. According to WeeTracker, startups across the continent raised $1.3 billion in 2019, crossing the $1 billion threshold for the first time.
This is a huge investment leap from 2015, when startups operating in Africa raised $200 million. The report also found that 6% of the 427 startups that raised funding accounted for 83% of all investments.
Both Nigeria and Kenya are particularly lucrative in the total breakdown, with 81.5% of 2019’s investment money coming from those two countries combined (with South Africa trailing just behind Kenya). Nigeria ranked number one for the number of deals completed and valuations offered. Although comes in second across a large leap, Kenya’s progress doesn’t go unnoticed: they saw a 283% growth rate compared to 2018.
There are numerous reasons why Africa has consistently seen larger investment dollars year over year. For starters, new technology has made software development a much more attainable goal. DevOps tools, agile project management solutions, and cloud-based applications like Docker and Docker registry help programmers build effective code and push it faster than ever.
Additionally, the continent has seen a myriad of additional funding opportunities. For instance, ex-Andela and Flutterwave execs recently launched the Future Africa Fund, an angel fund for African startups. On top of that, 4G Capital recently raised another $2 million for small and midsize businesses in Africa.
There’s also been a proliferation of incubators and accelerators launching to help startups connect with investors, receive mentoring, and grow their businesses. Injini is the continent’s first tech incubator to focus on education, and through its five-month program, it supports and invests in startups throughout Africa.
African startups are also being invited to programs around the world. Y Combinator—arguably the most famous incubator in the world—chose 19 African-based startups to join its program, which is notoriously more difficult to get into than Ivy League schools like Harvard.
Notable startups across Africa have closed stellar funding rounds, even by Silicon Valley standards. Digital payment company Cellulant raised $47.5 million, and micro lending platform branch raised $20 million. Moving forward, we can expect to see even more African startups seek to revolutionize some of the most important industries, like healthcare and education.
Most notable are the startups that aim to solve important issues, like Ubenwa, which touts its system as a “Shazam” for babies. The program can record and analyze an infant’s cries to help determine if the baby suffers from health conditions like asphyxia, which has plagued African newborns. Additionally, a micro health insurance company called Jamii allows low-income individuals to purchase healthcare plans for a little as $1.