DFS Lab, an early-stage investor focused on Africa, has made 19 investments in African tech startups so far in 2021, making it one of the continent’s most active firms and bringing its overall portfolio size to 22.
DFS Lab, which was founded in 2017, enables founders of next-generation digital commerce businesses in Africa in establishing solid foundations and matching them with capital.
The company brings both global and local mentorship to its flagship accelerator programme, and its portfolio companies have gone on to raise capital from firms like Tiger Global, Balderton, DST Global, QED, Accel, Anthemis, 500 Global, Y Combinator, Flourish Ventures, NYCA, and Accion Venture Lab, among others.
DFS Lab has done 19 African deals so far in 2021, a combination of investments in companies that have gone through its program, for which applications are open on a rolling basis and participants receive US$25,000 in funding, and independent participations in other deals, with investment levels varying.
Eight of the companies funded are from Kenya, including Ando Foods; a cloud kitchen startup building high-quality food brands for the digital age; GoBeba, a multi-faceted on-demand delivery and errands service; PesaKit, a free business app that allows mobile money agents to become the go-to shop for affordable financial and digital services; and TuShop, a community group buying platform where members can sell groceries to those in their social networks and communities.
The other Kenyan companies backed by DFS Lab are Koa, which facilitates high volume savings and democratises access to financial products; Tanda, a banking startup that caters to MSMEs by offering access to inventory credit and helping them sell digital products; Kibanda Topup, which builds tools that enables restaurants to access affordable fresh and dry products; and Logistify, which is building last-mile distribution infrastructure for food suppliers.
Another six startups hail from Nigeria, namely Suplias; a B2B marketplace where mom and pop stores in Africa buy inventory directly from manufacturers using a mobile app; OnePipe, which builds and maintains APIs that enable banks to partner with modern digital services and fintech; Payhippo, a business lending startup; Star Kitchens Group, a restaurant management platform; Bumpa, an app empowering sellers with the tools needed for digital commerce; and SendChamp – A messaging platform for businesses and developers to power customer verification and personalise communications through multiple channels.
The list is completed by Egypt’s Appetito, a grocery delivery platform; South Africa’s Akiba Digital, which unlocks financial opportunities for consumers and businesses using alternative data; the pan-African Boost, which is building a “B2B Shopify” for informal retailers; Zambia’s Union54, which provides card-issuing APIs for corporates who want to have virtual or physical multi-currency debit cards; and an as-yet-unnamed stealth startup.