Sierra Leone’s Easy Solar raises undisclosed funding from Acumen Fund & Gaia Impact Fund


Sierra Leone’s Azimuth trading as Easy Solar, a pay-as-you-go solar distribution company has raised funding from Acumen’s Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative, an effort to bridge the funding gap in off-grid energy and accelerate access across the developing world to make clean energy affordable to those underserved by the grid.

According to Leslie Labruto, Global Energy Lead at Acumen,  “We invested in Easy Solar because of the audacity of the team to impact one of the world’s poorest markets. Easy Solar’s founding team has the right recipe of grit, local knowledge, and intuition to become a top employer in the country and make an off-grid energy company work in Sierra Leone.”

More than 87 percent of Sierra Leone’s 6.4 million people live without electricity and, in the country’s rural communities, only one percent have access. To serve these populations, the company tapped into the Sierra Leone Energy Revolution following the government’s commitment to nationwide energy access by 2025.

Easy Solar offers solar-powered devices on a rent-to-own financing structure. Easy Solar’s online platform allows the company to track where payments stand at all times while empowering its agents to serve their customers. Easy Solar is building a brand based on trust, enabling it to overcome many of the hurdles in delivering energy solutions in a challenging market.

Founded in 2016 by Alexandre Tourre, Nthabiseng Mosia and Eric Silverman, Easy Solar has grown from under 500 customers in early 2017 to more than 7,000 today. The company is quickly building a nationally trusted brand by providing best-in-class customer service to deliver pico-lantern and solar home system products to their customers.

“We see our investment in Easy Solar as an opportunity to help scale an energy company serving low-income customers and building a new clean economy in Sierra Leone,” said Guilhem Dupuy, Investment Manager at Gaia Impact Fund. “We are excited to partner with Acumen in supporting entrepreneurs and companies committed to bring an end to energy poverty.”

Sierra Leone is a new market for Acumen, which now works in 13 countries across East and West Africa as well as Latin America, South Asia and the United States. While the country has faced a number of challenges—from its 11-year civil war to the Ebola crisis in 2014 to a rash of mudslides in 2017—Acumen and Gaia Impact Fund see Sierra Leone as a frontier market prime for entrepreneurs to develop affordable, sustainable solutions across multiple sectors that serve the poor.

“Sierra Leone presents a complex environment, but one where we know we can excel,” said Eric Silverman, co-founder of Easy Solar. “We are thrilled Acumen and Gaia Impact Fund took a bet to invest capital not only in us but in our team as whole and ultimately in the country.”


Nigeria’s digital blood bank, Lifebank raised $200k from EchoVC, CcHub, others


Some days back, LifeBank, which is like the foremost Nigeria’s digital blood bank, raised $200 000 for expansion nationwide.

The startup which according to their statistics, have moved 9025 products, served 351 hospitals, garnered up to 5026 Donors and saved 1199 lives wants to replicate this in the whole country.
Investors in the Lifebank seed round include EchoVC Partners, a Lagos-based venture capital firm, Fola Laoye, an angel investor who has over 20 years of experience in Nigeria’s healthcare industry and Co-Creation from whose hub Lifebank have been operating thus far.

Before this investment round, Co-Creation Hub had supported LifeBank in its early stages with $25,000 in pre-seed funding, and the company also raised a further $15,000 from a private investor.

LifeBank is a startup which addresses knew of the country’s most important problem – health, and is on a mission to save a million lives through ensuring adequate blood supplies, helping hospitals discover essential medical products, and delivering these products on time.

They are a smart blood system saving lives in Lagos – and now at the verge of expansion to other parts – by speeding up blood donations and deliveries to hospitals.

Here’s Mark Zuckerberg speaking about Lifebank, “This is a thing that needs to exist. If she can actually pull it off, she’ll show a model that will impact not just Lagos, not just Nigeria, but countries all around the world.”

Nigerian northeastern start-ups to access $5000 funds from the “Startup Mambila” project


The “startup mambila” project is an incubation program which was specifically designed for start-ups in the northeastern part of Nigeria. This looks to be very important as it could further help with healing the region, which was brought back by insurgency.

The project is organized by NENHUB with the support of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Selected start-ups (which must not be more than 3 years running, or could be just an idea) would be incubated for a period of six months and provided a $5,000 equity-free funding to start their venture at the end of the incubation program.

Here are the objectives of the program:
• To fast track industrialization in Nigeria by attracting Venture Capital, manufacturing and service organisations
• To increase regional activity of innovative clusters and to encourage innovation across various sectors of the economy
• To create job opportunities for the teeming population of youths within a knowledge driven economy with innovation solution
• To establish Nigeria as an IT-driven professional services, manufacturing and agro-allied processing outsourcing hub.

How to apply
Interested StartUps should register at www.nenhub.com.ng from 1st – 20th February 2018. The entries received will be reviewed by the Selection Board. The selection board consists of carefully selected accomplished professionals from all walks of life.

Kenya’s eCommerce Firm Sky.Garden raises $1.2 million to launch its next generation merchant platform


Kenyan based eCommerce company, Sky.Garden,which is works as a ”Shopify for Africa”, has raised a $1.2 million to launch its next generation merchant platform later this year and expand across East Africa.

The funding round was led by Jesper Drescher, TRK Group based in Norway, The Katapult Accelerator Follow-up Fund, and a syndicate of Danish Business Angels led by Futuristic.vc.

According to Daniel Maison, CEO Sky.Garden, “We are thrilled to be receiving the continued support and recognition for our platform from such influential investors, especially in the highly competitive market that we are in. The positive impact we have had on small and medium sized businesses across the region encourages us to continue to build the very best eCommerce platform our market has seen.”

Founded in May 2017 by Christian Grubak & Martin Majlund based in Denmark, Sky.Garden is locally run by Isaac Hunja, James Mwai and Daniel Maison who are Sky.Garden’s CMO, CTO and CEO respectively.

The firm has registered over 3000 unique sellers who now have access to their very own Sky.Garden Web Shops. The 3000+ unique web shop owners, with 23,000+ unique products uploaded spans across over 30 different categories.

The Sky.Garden platform offers the ability to open a free web shop in minutes and has attracted large and small businesses in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri and many more counties across the country.

There are no registration fees or monthly fees, sellers are simply charged a flat rate of 8% per transaction. Every seller is equipped with a unique web shop link [URL] which they can share to their customer base on existing social media channels such as Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter. When the seller gets an order through their web shop, Sky.Garden handles the end-to-end fulfillment  on the seller’s behalf. Namely, customer service, delivery, and mobile money payments.

The company does same day delivery within Nairobi via their trusted and trained courier partnerships, and 24 to 48 hour delivery for the rest of Kenya via regional delivery partnerships. 

Martin Majlund,  Co-founder & COO says, “we saw a huge opportunity in Kenya with its rapidly growing smartphone penetration and access to reliable data connectivity. Every one of these sellers have a smartphone in their pockets, huge followings on social media platforms, and amazing products to sell. Sky.Garden is simply putting all these pieces together to produce an amazing eCommerce tool for them to grow their businesses and increase their earnings.”

After the launch of its next generation merchant platform, the firm aims to bring disruptive eCommerce management to their rapidly growing merchant base.

“”An important reason for us investing early in Sky.Garden was their strong team with complimentary experience from large retail, venture building, tech and their local markets. Further, their large market potential of African e-commerce and how they are tackling this using a novel way of distributed transporters and reaching small-medium businesses, creating important social and economic impact in the region in the process,”  says Haakon Brunell, Managing Director at The Katapult Accelerator.


Goodwell Investments raises 20m Euro from over 30 investors for investments in inclusive economy in Africa


Goodwell Investments, which has invested in Paga, Nomanini among others, has raised 20 million Euro from over 30 investors for investments in inclusive economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Goodwell invests in young, fast growing companies that offer products and services to un(der)served people to meet their increasing demand for affordable and quality basic products. The goal is to achieve maximum social impact while delivering a market rate return to investors.

Economic and social developments are rapidly changing the face of Africa. Still, millions of people are excluded from accessible and adequate basic goods and services, such as financial services, energy or health care. Goodwell is convinced that if un(der)served consumers had access to these basic services, it would contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive society. This objective is best achieved by providing capital and management support to companies that deliver these products and services.

The investment fund is built on a portfolio that is spread across various impact sectors and regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Half of the fund will be invested in financial services; the other half in agriculture, health and sanitation, energy, transport and education. Investment in the financial sector is crucial as it is the driving force behind a thriving local economy.

This gives businesses the best leverage and opportunities to scale-up. Goodwell’s extensive network in this sector and successful track record from predecessor funds, allows the company to be a trusted and insightful mentor within the impact investment space.

Sendy raises $2m from DOB Equity to broaden its service offerings & team & expand into East Africa


Sendy, an on-demand delivery services platform operating in Kenya has completed a Series A investment round said to be around $2m according to sources, led by DOB Equity alongside CFAO, member of the Toyota Group, and other private investors to enable it increase its platforms’ service offering and team, as well as expand into East Africa.

Sendy will use the cash to add more delivery vehicles to their platform, increasing their coverage area, expanding the sales and technology team, and preparing for future expansion into neighboring countries in East Africa. The deal was sealed October 2017.

According to Meshack Alloys, CEO of Sendy, “When we started Sendy in 2014 we saw the opportunity to fill a gap in the logistic services sector in Nairobi. Ever since, we have been able to provide affordable and high quality services through our Driver partners, and expand our client base across sectors and leading corporates. With the support of DOB Equity and CFAO we look forward to sustaining our high growth and outstanding services to our current and new clients over the coming years.”

Though highly fragmented, informal and highly inefficient, DOB Equity sees so much potential in the current logistics sector in Kenya –worth US$10bn. Poor infrastructure, limited technology and expertise, a high degree of bureaucracy, and potential security risks make transport costs in East Africa among the highest in the world.

Sendy aims to solve that. Focusing on the sub-sector of packages and goods deliveries, Sendy offers an app-based on-demand marketplace, connecting individuals and companies to delivery service providers, similar to ride-hailing companies like Uber – but focused on goods rather than passengers. As a result, it helps reduce inefficiencies in the market primarily by removing friction costs between matching customers and providers.

Sendy works with Partners to deliver tailor-made, efficient and affordable service using verified, trained drivers and automated order tracking. It offers customers a wide choice of types and sizes of vehicles, ranging from motorcycles to 28 ton trucks.

To grow the demand of its services in the region, Sendy tried its hands at taxi hailing, but got out as fast as it entered the market. This time, the firm will need to help or educate more vendors to set up online shopfronts like Shopify so that it powers their delivery and convenience. Trying its hands at eCommerce, like Safaricom did with Masoko might be a big mess and an embarrassment to the now dilligent team.

Brigit van Dijk – van de Reijt, CEO of DOB Equity says: “A well-functioning logistics sector is key to economic development and competitiveness. However it is often overlooked when analyzing and discussing the impact of investments.”

“Investments in agriculture or manufacturing are not sustainable if there is no efficient supply chain to get products out to the market. As such, DOB Equity is increasingly interested in investing in companies that look to solve economic inefficiencies throughout the supply chain. For example, we recently invested in Africa Logistics Properties, a developer of modern warehousing facilities across Africa.”

 “Sendy targets a US$2bn market in East Africa. Rising consumer demand and increased connectivity, coupled with the rapid growth of e-commerce and demand for more instant deliveries is expected to further boost demand on Sendy’s platform,” said Hayo Afman, Portfolio Manager of DOB Equity.

“Across the globe we are seeing a similar rise of new tech-based logistics business models replacing traditional service offerings. To date, only a few sizeable players have emerged in Sub-Saharan Africa and Sendy is one of the most advanced new entrants in East Africa, giving the company a first-mover advantage to gain a significant share of the market.”

IFC Becomes Anchor Investor in Partech Africa Fund


IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has helped Partech Ventures launch a €100 million fund focused to largest venture-capital fund focused on digital-technology start-ups in sub-Saharan Africa.

IFC’s €15 million equity investment makes it an anchor investor in the Partech Africa fund which was launched yesterday and marks IFC’s first investment in a mainstream venture capital fund in sub-Saharan Africa, where start-ups in the technology sector face significant funding gaps that limit their ability to grow.

This sector is critical to economic growth and prosperity in Africa—digital technology is expected to contribute about $300 billion to the region’s gross domestic product by 2025, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

“Technology can have a huge transformative impact in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has a vast untapped source of entrepreneurial energy,” said Philippe Le Houérou, Chief Executive Officer of IFC. “Africa’s population is overwhelmingly young—it has lots of people with strong tech skills and innovative ideas that could improve lives. But they lack the necessary funding. We think the Partech Africa fund will make an important contribution to closing this funding gap and driving entrepreneurship and growth.”

The fund will invest between €500,000 to €5 million in fintech, health technology, and mobile technology startups in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

“With a very hands-on and operational team, closing more than 70 transactions per year, Partech will bring a great value to African founders,” said Tidjane Dème, General Partner for Partech Africa. “Moreover, thanks to our global network of corporate partners, our dedicated business development team will expose African startups to European and U.S. markets, enabling commercial contracts and long-term strategic partnerships.”



Off-Grid Energy Firms in Africa to Receive $55M Investment from AfDB,  Nordic Development Fund Among Others

Greenpeace and Tcktcktck volunteers raise a wind turbine on the beach at dawn in Durban, South Africa. To send a message of hope for the latest round of UN climate change talks opening here on Monday. Campaigners say Durban must be a new dawn for the international negotiations to agree a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty to avert climate chaos. They are demanding that politicians stop listening to the polluting corporations and listen to the people who want an end to our dependence on fossil fuels. Africa is on the front line of dangerous climate change, with millions already suffering the impacts through increased drought and extreme weather events, threatening lives and food security.

Over 600 million people are estimated to lack access to modern energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, this is set to change as off-grid energy firms in Africa are set to receive $55-million investment from AfDB,  Nordic Development Fund among other investors in a move expected to scale up access to clean electricity for off-grid households and crowding in local financial institutions as co-lenders.

To make this a reality, the African Development Bank’s Board approved a $30-million investment in the Facility for Energy Inclusion Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (“FEI OGEF”). This follows the approval of additional investments of US $10 million from Calvert Impact Capital (CIC), US $8.5 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and €6 million from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF). In addition, the NDF will provide a €0.5-million grant for technical assistance to support deal structuring and capacity development.

FEI OGEF is a US $100-million blended finance debt fund designed to provide loans in local and hard currencies to off-grid energy companies with the dual objectives The Fund directly supports the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and is part of its “High 5” priority to light up and power the continent, with an aspirational target of connecting 75 million households through off-grid energy access solutions by 2025. Through the use of clean energy instead of fossil fuels to power communities, the Fund is expected to result in the reduction of up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.

“FEI OGEF is the first Bank instrument that enables debt financing, including in local currency, to off-grid energy access companies who need growth capital to expand their operations across Africa. The strong collaboration demonstrates the power of partnerships for clean energy access in Africa,” said Astrid Manroth, Director, Transformative Energy Partnerships at the African Development Bank.

The Fund is a first mover matching local currency debt instruments with recent innovations in off-grid energy business models to scale up energy access for underserved and rural households. It provides a blended capital structure whereby investments in equity provides comfort and risk cushioning to attract early participation and additional investment by development finance institutions and other commercial investors.

“OGEF squarely fits within our investment mandate of leveraging public capital at scale to create systemic change in sectors and geographies that have been overlooked by mainstream capital markets. We are excited to work with the AfDB and the other investors to scale this facility and increase access to clean electricity for off-grid households in Africa,” said Jenn Pryce, President and CEO of Calvert Impact Capital.

The Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI) is the Bank’s flagship initiative for providing long-term finance to small-scale renewable energy access projects, of which FEI OGEF is one of the financing windows. FEI has been developed with grant support from the Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).

Farmers sponsor platform Farmcrowdy raises $1 million in seed funding to expand to 20 states in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, an online platform allowing Nigerians to venture in and sponsor agriculture has closed $1 million in seed funding to scale its operations with plans to expand into a combined 20 states in Nigeria.

The $1m was raised from Cox Enterprises, Techstars Ventures, Social Capital, Hallett Capital and Right-Side Capital; as well as angel investors Tyler Scriven, Michael Cohn,Josephine Group, FC Agro Allied SPV and Dr. Christof Walter.

The money will also see it work with 4,000 additional small-scale farmers and engage a combined 20,000 new farm followers and farm sponsors on it’s platform to learn about the opportunities in Agriculture and partner with farmers.

According to Onyeka Akumah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmcrowdy, “Today’s seed announcement is a remarkable milestone for us and Nigeria’s Agritech industry as a whole. It will allow us to build on our earlier traction as we continue to introduce Nigerians to this exciting new category of partnering with farmers for impact and return.”

Launched just over a year ago, Farmcrowdy, was the only African startup from Techstars Atlanta’s 2017 cohort and connects small scale farmers with sponsors, who invest in farm cycles. A farm cycle can be anything from poultry [3-5 months] to cassava [9 months].

The farmers receive on-the-ground advice from  Farmcrowdy’s Technical Field Specialists who also give them training in better agriculture practices and provide them with quality farm input. Prior to harvest, Farmcrowdy works with pre-arranged buyers who assist the farmers sell their yield at harvest and earn a decent margin.

The sponsor then gets their original sponsorship +40% of the profit from the harvest, the farmer receives 40% of the profit and Farmcrowdy receives 20% of the profit. Farm sponsors can get between 6-25% returns after harvest depending on the farm type they sponsor.

Farmcrowdy has to-date recorded close to 1,000 unique farm sponsors from Nigerians in Nigeria, the US and UK. The company has aggregated a combined 4,000 acres of farmland across 8 states in Nigeria and worked with more than 2,000 small scale farmers. The site has raised over 250,000 organic chickens on its poultry farm cycles.

Farmcrowdy recently launched their first mobile app which provides an accessible platform for agriculture enthusiasts to experience, learn, do their farming business with real farmers and appreciate agriculture practice first-hand through regular updates, images and videos from the farms. These allows Farm sponsors and farm followers to digitally track the progress of their sponsored farms from their mobile devices. The app has seen close to 5,000 downloads in the 3 weeks since launch, positioning the startup to take on more farm followers and sponsors both locally in Nigeria and globally.

“Onyeka Akumah and the Farmcrowdy team are changing the global dynamics of farming and agriculture.  Techstars is proud and honored to be a continued part of the Farmcrowdy journey via investment from Techstars Ventures, the venture capital arm of Techstars.  We first met the Farmcrowdy team at Techstars Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises and were immediately impressed by their vision, execution, and the vast scope of their potential impact to the world,” said Cody Simms, Partner, Techstars Ventures.

WorldRemit raises $40m to make sending money within Africa faster


Digital money transfer service WorldRemit has raised $40m to serve 10 million customers connected to emerging markets.

With the funds, WorldRemit will enable customers in Africa to transfer money to 148 countries as easily as sending an instant message, using the WorldRemit app. Countries in Africa which now receive remittances through WorldRemit, will become send countries. Most importantly, the new service will make sending money within Africa faster, easier and low cost.

According to Ismail Ahmed, founder and CEO at WorldRemit: “This new funding will fuel our growth, and help bring our service to millions more customers across the globe. Africa is a crucial market for us and over the next few years, we will expand our services so customers can send and receive with WorldRemit, getting the benefits of our fast, secure online service.”

Since its last funding round in 2015, WorldRemit has launched 206 new services across the globe and has grown its transaction volume by 400%. Last month WorldRemit became Arsenal FC’s first-ever online money transfer partner.

The Series C round was led by LeapFrog Investments with significant participation from existing investors Accel and TCV. This latest funding round follows a Series B investment raised from TCV in 2015 and a Series A from Accel and Project A in 2014 – then one of the largest ever Series A rounds in Europe. The latest funding brings the total amount WorldRemit has raised to $220 million.

According to the World Bank, inter-Africa transfers are amongst the most expensive in the world. Money transfers to Africa account for more than half of WorldRemit’s total volume of transactions. The company currently handles 74% of remittances to popular mobile money services across Africa like MTN, Ecocash, Tigo Pesa, Vodafone M-Pesa and Airtel Money, making it the global leader in mobile-to-mobile international money transfers.

Sun King Parent Firm Greenlight Planet Raises $60M to Finance its Off-Grid Solar Business in Africa


Sun King solar brand’s parent firm Greenlight Planet has raised $60m in equity and debt led by London-based private equity fund manager Apis Partners with participation from existing shareholders Eight Roads Ventures and Bamboo Capital Partners.

Debt investments included new disbursements from the company’s earliest institutional lenders, Deutsche Bank and Global Partnerships, as well as from SunFunder, PG Impact Investments, responsAbility and SIMA Funds.

Greenlight Planet says it will use the new debt and equity capital to expand its solar-energy product lines, distribution networks, and financing capabilities in Africa and Asia. There, over a billion people lack reliable access to electricity, finding it too expensive or unavailable.

According to Patrick Walsh, Co-Founder & CEO of Greenlight Planet, “Today, for less than the cost of a single electrical pole, we can provide a solar home system with enough energy to power a complete range of appliances needed by rural consumers. Apis’s investment will allow us to continue rapidly expanding access to these life-changing products.”

Greenlight Planet operates a direct-to-consumer, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar product distribution business and has over 2,400 company-managed sales agents in five countries, selling more than 25,000 solar products to off-grid consumers each month. The firm uses mobile money systems to allow customers pay for their solar energy products over time, for as little as 25 cents per day.

Greenlight’s line of Sun King™ solar-powered products are used for lighting, home energy systems, phone chargers, radios, fans, and soon-to-be-released televisions. The company began selling affordable solar home systems just three years ago, and has sold nearly 600,000 to date, now at a rate of over 1,000 solar home systems per day. Greenlight Planet partners with a network of more than 100 distributors, including retailers, NGOs, and over 40 micro-finance institutions, to provide sales and service for off-grid communities in 62 countries.

The funding will also help the firm launch an expanded range of life necessities, from cookstoves to fans, TVs, and more.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to leverage Greenlight Planet’s distribution partners, technology, Sun King brand and platform to offer broader appliance financing to underserved Africa populations,” said Udayan Goyal, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Apis. “Greenlight Planet’s PAYG system offers a financing product embedded within the sale of a much-demanded physical product, and we think this context-based approach to financial services will drive widespread financial inclusion in growth markets.”




Mobisol secures $25m for growth in Africa after Investec’s latest follow-on investment


Mobisol, one of Africa’s leading providers of off-grid solar home systems, has secured a total of $25m in the last six months for growth in Africa after Investec Asset Management’s latest follow-on growth equity investment alongside its consortium partners.

The Investec consortium’s follow-on growth equity investment, combined with recently concluded debt-financing deals, means that Mobisol has secured over US$25 million funding in the last 6 months and ensures that Mobisol will have sufficient capital to electrify tens of thousands of additional households in East Africa.

According to Thomas Gottschalk, Founder and CEO of Mobisol, “Mobisol’s partnership with the Investec consortium allows us to further grow and to set the stage for providing reliable and affordable solar energy solutions to 20 million people by 2023.”

Mobisol, headquartered in Berlin, provides low-income African households with solar home systems able to power lighting, radios, stereo, mobile phone charger, a TV, and, depending on system size, other appliances such as irons, refrigerators and other productive use equipment.

A significant proportion of Mobisol customers generate income from their SHS, providing services such as mobile-phone charging or hair cutting, or running some other small business (e.g. a small shop with LED lighting and refrigeration or a village cinema with projector).

Since inception Mobisol has installed over 100,000 solar home systems in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya, enabling some 500,000 people to enjoy clean, affordable and reliable solar energy. reaching a capacity of 10 MW.

Mobisol’s off-grid solar systems offer an attractive and highly scalable solution to addressing the energy needs of Africa where more than 600 million people across Africa still do not have access to electricity.

Investec made an initial equity investment into Mobisol in late 2016 with participation from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Financierings Maatschappij Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), the Dutch development-finance institution among others.

Over the past year this consortium has supported Mobisol’s continued growth in its existing markets of Tanzania and Rwanda and its expansion into Kenya.

“Since our initial investment Mobisol has continued to successfully expand its operating footprint, most notably with entry into Kenya, whilst also strengthening and innovating around its product offering and its business model,” said Mark Jennings, an Investment Principal in Investec Asset Management’s private equity team. “This, combined with a disciplined approach to on-the-ground execution and a strong commitment to quality and reliability, positions Mobisol for further strong growth and impact.”

In July this year, Mobisol raised 10m Euros from Finnfund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd.) to bolster its operations in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.

mPharma raises $6.6 million to provide inventory financing to pharmacies across Africa


mPharma, a venture-backed startup with a simple mission to make prescription drugs in emerging markets easily accessible, and easily affordable has raised a $6.6 million Series A round to provide doctors, patients and pharmacists access to a network of high quality chronic disease medicines at sustainable prices.

The round was led by India’s Shravin Bharti Mittal, Social Capital, Golden Palm Investments and 4DX Ventures. Several investors from Senegal, Kenya, and Turkey also participated in the round. Jim Breyer, an early Facebook investor also invested and joined the board.

This is the firm’s second biggest raise after it raised $5 million led by Social Capital in 2015.

Founded by Greg Rockson, mPharma is based in Ghana and has partnered with major pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, financial institutions and governments to deliver medicines directly into the hands of consumers in these underserved markets.

The firm will use the new funding to reach more users across Africa with its proprietary software. At the moment the firm operates in four countries and services over 15,000 pharmacies. Its software helps pharmacies to accurately forecast prescription drugs demand to help them source for more in time and at affordable prices.

The firm also provides inventory financing to clients across Africa. mPharma has operations in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, and Kenya.

“As we enter 2018, we intend to focus on scaling our operations across Africa as we work towards building economies of scale in partnership with providers,” said Rockson. “Our proprietary supply chain software enables us to implement vendor managed inventory for independent healthcare providers in Africa. This model enables mPharma to create a tightly coupled pharmacy monolith — on a continent that has a highly fragmented pharmacy retail market — with leverage over pricing, distribution and reimbursements.”

mPharma’s tools include Thea, a CRM tool that gives facilities the ability to perform claim submission and management; SyncDB, an onsite integration that allows for a facility to automatically sync select parts of their database to mPharma’s integration layer; its REST API that allows integration with mPharma and an excel spreadsheets tool that allows pharmacies to keep track of their dispensations.


MENA events platform Eventtus raises $2m led by Algebra Ventures and 500 Startups


Eventtus, a MENA events platform recently raised $2m led by Algebra Ventures and 500 Startups to allow Eventtus to accelerate its expansion in the Middle East and introduce new products to also compete on a global scale.

“This round comes at a time when we believe that the Eventtus platform is ready to fulfill that role in the events market. This round has the strategic value of enhancing our capacity to work with global companies organizing major events in the MENA region as well as making Eventtus the main platform and event app provider for regional event organizers.“ said Mai Medhat, CEO of Eventtus.

The latest raise brings the total capital raised by the company to $2.65m in less than 2 years. Previous investors include Raed Ventures and MEVP. The investment is among the top 10 investments that have been in the MENA region in the past 6 months.

Eventtus aims to develop new platform features for optimizing the outcomes of all event stakeholders. New features range from making the lead generation process more efficient for exhibitors to diversifying the revenue generation options for organizers.

The firm is also on course to launch its’ new AI module that will enable participants to identify the best people to connect to at each event based on a machine learning algorithm that understands their business goals better and better with each interaction.

“Our investment in Eventtus is premised on the technological disruption that is happening globally in the world of events,” said Ziad Mokhtar, Managing Partner of Algebra Ventures. He added, “it is also premised on the great product that Eventtus has built and the customers they have managed to attract. The region’s events and conferences industry has grown significantly over the past years with revenues today exceeding $5 billion. With its deep understanding of the needs of event organizers and event goers, Eventtus is well positioned to play a leading role in transforming this industry.”

Eventtus has been working on technologies such as social media integration, personalization or real-time intelligence, and has seen an impact in the engagement rates of attendees and an increase in the longevity of event series. In this context, features such as the customized event agenda, the event sharing feed or the real-time polls that Eventtus launched in the past 18 months have proven to be an anticipation of the attendees’ and organizers’ newly-discovered expectations.

Thus, events served by Eventtus have seen an increase in the engagement rate of attendees of up to 91%.

This is the fourth investment made this year by Algebra Ventures – a VC fund backed by CISCO, EBRD, and IFC.

“500 Startups is proud to invest in such a great team, led by Mai Medhat and Nihal Fares. We look forward to supporting them as they aim to disrupt the events-related technology space and improve overall conference experience in the region and beyond. With the MENA region becoming a major hub for global launches and events, the opportunity in this space is significant. We look forward to welcoming Eventtus to the global 500 Startups family”, said Hassan Haider, Partner at 500 Startups.

M-Shule named the most promising startup at Seedstars Nairobi

M-Shule, the winners of Seedstars World Nairobi Chapter

M-Shule has won the Kenyan round of Seedstars Nairobi earning the opportunity to represent the country at the major Seedstars summits in Mozambique and Switzerland. The startup will battle with other promising startups for up to USD 1 million in equity investment and other prizes.

Seedstars World, the global seed stage competition of vibrant startups for emerging markets and other scenes where startups are rising up steadily brought the Kenyan round on Friday last week at Nailab, as 11 selected startups were invited to present their ideas in front of a group of local judges.

M-Shule is a startup that developed its idea around improving learning for every primary school student across Kenya using Artificial Intelligence and SMS to deliver personalized and accessible education. The startup will have the opportunity to participate at the Seedstars Summit that will take place in Switzerland in April 2018 meeting up with other 75 winners and investors from around the globe. The winner thereafter will have a prize worth USD 1 million equity investment.

M-Shule also won a whole six month free membership to the Nairobi Garage as part of the prize while the runners up won a three month free membership and the finalists were awarded a two month free membership to continue developing their idea in a great environment around other freelancers.

The runners up was BuuPass a digital marketplace for train and bus tickets that makes simple transportation solutions to help people commute easily whereas Sinbad Technologies a platform to democratize and simplify the process of obtaining marine cargo insurance grabbed the last spot in the top three.

The other startups invited to pitch at the summit were ConnectMed, Jobsikaz, PortableVoices Creatives, Sokompare, The Konnector, TozzaPlus, WazInsure and BrillantPay.

The next stop of the Seedstars World will be in Maputo, Mozambique where all local winners and startup delegates are invited for a three day conference and also get the opportunity to pitch in front of an audience from 20 African countries.

JUMO raises $24 million loan facility from Finnish development Finnfund


Jumo, a big data analytics firm which allows cost-efficient provision of loans has raised $6m from Finnfund in form of a debt instrument to support its expansion in Africa and Asia and the development of its platform in order to provide new services for SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The $6m is part of an overall 24 million USD-loan facility, which was arranged by Gemcorp Capital, an independent emerging markets investment management firm based in London and an early investor in Jumo.

According to Jaakko Kangasniemi, Managing Director of Finnfund, “We are keen to provide funding for Jumo’s expansion and further development. Financial inclusion is very important for development; people need to be able to access quality financial services. It gives them security, enables them to plan their lives more effectively and often gives them an opportunity to start or grow their own business and improve their livelihoods.”

JUMO is a multi-sided platform for Mobile Network Operators and Financial Service Providers and has served over 5 million people in Africa and Asia using behavioural data from mobile usage. Users are able to create a financial identity and gain access to affordable, real-time, financial services fitted to their specific needs. The services are benefitting broad segments of customers including people with low incomes and those who own micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who have previously been excluded from traditional banking services.

“As an investor, Finnfund brings a sharp focus to achieving meaningful social impact with sustainable profit. That aligns well with our mission,” says Andrew Watkins-Ball, founder and CEO of Jumo.  “Having proven our model, we are now expanding our footprint to reach millions more people who are excluded from the formal financial system. With Finnfund we have an investor who supports our view that inequality is unacceptable.”

Jumo has granted more than 20 million loans.  Currently, the company employs over 300 people, who are mostly based in South Africa. The main markets include Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana and Pakistan.

Naked raises R20m investment from Hollard & Yellowwoods to give customers a more flexible insurance experience.


Naked also revealed that it has appointed outgoing Hollard group CEO Nic Kohler to its board of directors.


Knife Capital participates in a R22m round into a Stockholm IoT startup alongside Candy Crush co-founders


Knife Capital, a Cape Town-based venture capital firm has made its first global investment since opening the London office in a Stockholm-based IoT specialist.

The Cape Town-based firm has participated in a R22m funding round by Stockholm-based Mobile and Sensory Technology (MOST). Knife Capital invested alongside some of Europe’s most successful new age entrepreneurs – the founders of the British and Swedish games studio: King Digital Entertainment.

According to Bob Skinstad who heads up the business development function for Knife Capital in London and responsible for securing the deal: “We are excited to partner with an accomplished team and credible co-investors in this technology-rich IoT startup that already has a proven product. Knife Capital will assist MOST in expanding into key markets where we already have strong networks.”

The investment was facilitated through Knife’s new London office by director Bob Skinstad, the former SA rugby hero, who will join MOST’s board alongside King Digital co-founder Lars Markgren.

MOST will invest the fresh capital into further global expansion, including penetrating the South African market.

A large quantity of the world’s food is destroyed during transport, mostly caused by temperature fluctuations, increased humidity or the freight load shaking too much.

It is usually difficult to identify the party responsible for compensation when there are damages as the law requires parties to prove where in the transport chain the breach occurred.

MOST’s sensor is connected via the cloud so customers can track their consignments in real time. This increases transparency, intelligence and proactivity in the supply chain at a low once-off cost. Industries being prioritised are fruit and perishables, electronics and pharmaceuticals.

Its breakthrough product is a sensor which monitors and transmits real time information on humidity, light, positioning, shock and temperature within containers used to transport sensitive products.

MOST device


“Our product is already market leading in functionality as well as in performance. Through our services, we offer our clients the opportunity to act proactively instead of reactively. The market has shown great interest in our product and we currently serve clients in five different continents,” said MOST CEO Jon Hjertenstein.

The MOST sensor has helped its clients with various issues, such as decreasing food waste and preventing damage to sensitive equipment. MOST is also enabled for implementation of blockchain technology, which gives all stakeholders in the supply chain full transparency.

”Our latest investment round enables us to expand more rapidly to our prioritized markets like EMEA and the US,” added Hjertenstein.

King Digital is the creator of global sensation Candy Crush. Its founders were early investors in MOST. They have strengthened their positions by investing in the latest round.

King Digital Entertainment co-founder Lars Markgren explains: “We invested in MOST in 2015. The company keeps impressing us with its agile development. Strengthening our ownership was the obvious choice when the opportunity arose. MOST has demonstrated an impressive development capacity so far and we will engage ourselves to ensure continuous improvements.”






Off-grid Solar firm PEG Africa raises $13.5m to expand operations in Ghana, Ivory Coast


Off-grid Solar firm PEG Africa has raised US$13.5 million in a debt and equity financing to expand its operations in Ghana and Ivory Coast with a target to reach 500,000 people through micro-loans for solar home systems.

According to Hugh Whalan, CEO of PEG Africa: “With this funding, PEG Africa will be able to reach a major milestone of extending energy and financing to half a million people. We are excited that we can now accelerate our growth plans in key West African markets. It is testament to the quality of the opportunity that all previous investors have participated in the Series B equity financing.”

PEG Africa issues micro-loans to off-grid customers in rural areas and considered risky by banks and microfinance institutions as they earn $5-$10 per day. The firm uses IoT technology to control the solar systems remotely as they pay for the devices over time in small increments.

PEG Africa raised the funds from SunFunder, ResponsAbility, Oikocredit, Global Partnerships and Palladium Impact Investments. The Series B financing brings the total funding raised by PEG Africa to over $21M USD from investors such as Blue Haven Initiative, with participation from EAV, Investisseurs & Partenaires (via IPAE 1 fund), ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies, Acumen and PCG Investments.

Audrey Desiderato, COO of SunFunder, said, “We have seen PEG Africa achieve major milestones in the last few years. By structuring and arranging this syndication on PEG’s behalf, we have provided scalable financing so they can focus on their core business.”

Digital Cabinet raises R5m equity round from HAVAIC & Growth Grid for expansion

South Africa’s Digital Cabinet has received R5m led by HAVAÍC and a consortium of individuals including its own team, and Growth Grid Venture Capital Partners.
The firm will use the capital raise to increase its staff capacity, undertake a concerted marketing exercise with the objective of creating product and brand awareness and implementing further product development.
The firm believes the move to increase staff capacity will drive additional product development which promises to result in Digital Cabinet establishing itself as a leader in document and workflow management.
According to Daniel Kritzas, CEO of Digital Cabinet, “Increased focus on marketing and brand awareness will draw increased attention to the company and its existing range of product solutions. Heightened awareness,” he believes, “will lead to increased enquiries from companies wishing to take advantage of Digital Cabinet’s innovations and so improve their internal processes.”

Digital Cabinet offers companies cloud-based paperless document and workflow management solutions, and is on the brink of a period of rapid growth as a result of increased focus on sales and marketing as opposed to product development on which it has focused to date distribution agreements with partners abroad; and a partnership with Computershare for its digital post offering.

Grant Rock, Executive Director of HAVAÍC, comments that: “The scale of the capital raise validates the faith that HAVAÍC showed in Digital Cabinet when HAVAÍC led the first investment in the company, a convertible loan extended in 2016.” The convertible loan was converted into equity as part of the capital raise, resulting in strong returns for the initial group of investors. “We believe that the calibre of Digital Cabinet’s leadership and the nature of the business alliances it is forming will result in good returns for the new investors as well,” says Rock.

Rob Ferguson, Founding Investor and Executive Director of Growth Grid believes: “This joint investment by HAVAÍC and Growth Grid marks the beginning of a collaborative relationship between the two companies united by their interest in identifying innovative companies and the desire to provide the entrepreneurs with the financial resources and guidance to enable them to realise their powerful visions”.