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Investing in African Start-ups

Partech Africa’s 2018 annual report says African tech startups raised US$1.163bn in 2018. The report’s data, from 146 African startups covering equity deals in 164 rounds shows a +108% growth year on year, compared to +33% in 2016 and +53% in 2017. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa received 78% of the total funding with Egypt close behind. Senegal remains francophone Africa’s leading technology hub. The report also indicates that the financial technology sector attracted a significant amount of investor interest, accounting for half of the total funding (50%).

Standard Chartered Bank has opened its first Africa eXellerator innovation hub in Kenya to support and work with fintechs in the country and across Africa. The hub will also serve as a platform to drive innovation and develop new business models for the continent. The bank already has eXellerator labs located in Singapore, Hong Kong, London and San Francisco.

Mobile lending startup, Branch has closed a $170m Series C funding round led by Foundation Capital and Visa. This new round brings its total funding to date to about $254m. Branch which is present in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania will use the funds to continue to build its presence in India as well as in Latin America. The startup also announced a partnership with Visa that will allow borrowers to withdraw funds from an ATM without physical debit cards or bank accounts. African or Africa-focused fintech startups have continued to attract funding from global payment companies, making the sector the best-funded on the continent. Last year Visa & Stripe led a $8m investment in Paystack while Mastercard invested in Flutterwave. Fintech accounted for 40% of total funding raised in 2018, the highest of any sector.

And if you are interested in scholarships – Resplash ( is an experimental initiative committed to empowering future leaders (with emphasis on women) by awarding scholarships & mentorship opportunities to talented individuals interested in learning how to code, design & potentially join or found a world-class tech startup. The 1st scholarship cycle will award up to 40 scholarships to talented & dynamic women with the potential to succeed in the tech industry. This scholarship is open to anyone 18 years or older, across Africa, who wants to join a tech startup or is curious about coding.

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Shahrain Coovadia

Shahrain Coovadia is a Cyber Security Consultant at Deloitte, South Africa. Prior to joining Deloitte she started a web-design studio, and worked at the University of Cape Town as a teaching facilitator. Shahrain graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours specialising in Information Systems. She currently facilitates web & database management for Ecommerce Forum South Africa (EFSA).

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