🚀 Africa's top investors of 2021

These 5 investors are involved in 1/3 of all early-stage deals in Africa

Back by popular demand (our April post on the same topic has been our most-read so far), this week we are looking at the most active investors in Africa, and Boy, haven’t they been busy!

  • Launch Africa (with more than a deal a week on average 🤯), Kepple Africa, Y Combinator and Flat6Labs are still amongst the most active, and they’re joined by LoftyInc Capital Management, who complete the Top 5 most active investors of 2021 so far.

  • This Top 5 have been involved in 1 in 3 ‘early-stage’ deals ($100k to $1m) on the continent so far this year (97 out of 295). In total, they have already invested in 127 deals in 2021.

  • They have been most active in Nigeria (41 deals), Egypt (30), Kenya (15) and South Africa (15). In total, they have invested in start-ups in 14 different countries. The only country they have all invested in at least a deal is Egypt; actually they have all invested in at least 4 deals in the country.

  • The sector the Top5 investors mostly invest in is… fintech - which represent one third of the deals they participated in -, followed by logistics & transportation (12%) and healthcare (10%).

  • 72% of the deals they’re involved in are with start-ups with an all-male funding team, in line with the market overall. However, only 9% of the start-ups they invested in in 2021 so far have a female CEO, which is lower than the average (14%).

  • Now of course this data is based on publicly disclosed deals, and a few more shared in confidence by investors, and it is not impossible that a couple more investors would deserve to make this list (Future Africa for instance)…

We welcome questions or comments, as always, and thank you for your continued support. If you’re interested in the full database of deals, you can find it here, but I suggest you also check your mailbox for a special offer if you subscribe to this newsletter… ;)

Une belle vague à surfer (A good Wave to surf) 🌊

La levée de fonds de 200m$ de Wave attire l'attention sur l'Afrique de l'Ouest francophone

For the English version, please scroll down a little :)

L’annonce de la levée de fonds de 200m de dollars de Wave la semaine dernière, deuxième plus importante levée de l’année, a attiré l’attention sur l’écosystème d’Afrique de l’Ouest francophone, bien souvent éclipsé par les performances remarquables de son voisin nigérian. Cette semaine, nous avons donc décidé d’y regarder d’un peu plus près:

  • En se concentrant sur les levées d’un million de $ ou plus, la croissance est claire dans la zone: d’une seule levée en 2019 (1m$), on passe à 6 en 2020 (21m$), et avant même l’annonce de Wave, on atteignait déjà les 6 levées en 2021, à quatre mois de la fin de l’année. La Série A de Wave projette la région à une toute nouvelle échelle, avec 213m$ au total sur l’année en cours, déjà dix fois le montant de 2020.

  • Avec cette somme, la zone représente maintenant 9% des fonds levés par des start-ups en Afrique en 2021, une performance relativement proche de son poids démographique sur le continent (~12%). En 2019 et 2020, ce chiffre était beaucoup plus bas: 0.1% et 1.3% respectivement. Avant la levée de Wave, la zone ne représentait que 0.6% du total levé sur le continent en 2021.

  • Ombres au tableau, sur les 14 start-ups qui ont levé 1m$ ou + depuis 2019, aucune n’a comme PDG une femme, et toutes sauf une ont une équipe fondatrice entièrement masculine. À noter aussi qu’environ les trois quarts des PDGs et fondateurs ne sont pas originaires du continent.

  • Enfin une note plus positive: un bon niveau d’activité sur les levées plus ‘early-stage’ (entre 100k$ et 1m$) dessine des perspectives encourageantes pour les mois et années à venir: 16 start-ups ont déjà levé du financement dans cette tranche depuis le début de l’année, dont 7 au Sénégal et 6 en Côte d’Ivoire. Et la région attire de plus en plus l’intérêt d’investisseurs pan-africains et internationaux

N’hésitez pas à partager autour de vous bien sûr, et si vous souhaitez accéder à la base complète des levées de fonds sur l’ensemble du continent - avec une ristourne - c’est par ici.


Wave’s $200m announcement last week, the second largest round so far this year, is drawing attention to Francophone West Africa, a region too often overshadowed by its Nigerian big brother’s impressive dynamism. So this week, we’ve decided to look into it a bit:

  • If we focus on $1m+ deals, there is clear growth in the past couple of years: while 2019 saw only 1 deal of $1m in the region, there were 6 in 2020 for a total of $21m, and even before Wave’s big news, there had already been another 6 in 2021 (with four months still to go until the end of the year). Now with Wave’s $200m Series A, the region is reaching new heights, with $213m raised so far this year, already 10x compared to 2020.

  • With this amount, the area currently represents 9% of all funding raised in Africa this year, not far from its demographic weight on the continent (~12%). In 2019 and 2020, the region was punching way below its weight though, with only 0.1% and 1.3% of the total raised respectively. Before Wave’s mammoth round, its share of funding raised in Africa was only 0.6%.

  • Unfortunately, of the 14 start-ups who have raised $1m or more since 2019, all have a male CEO, and all but one have an all-male founding team. About three quarters of those CEOs and co-founders are not native of Africa.

  • To end on a more positive note though, there is a good level activity in the earlier stage range ($100k to $1m) that point to future growth potential for the region: 16 start-ups have raised deals of that size since early 2021, including 7 in Senegal and 6 in Ivory Coast. And the region is attracting more and more attention from both African and international investors

9ja fintech is eating the world 🤑

Nigerian fintechs have raised $1.5bn of the total ~$5bn raised by all start-ups in Africa since 2019

First things first, we ought to be giving a standing ovation to start-ups in the ecosystem and their $564m raised in August through $100k+ deals. That’s more than 2.5 times the average monthly funding raised in the rest of 2021 so far. Hats off!

Obviously, with OPay’s $400m funding round, and Flutterwave’s, and Kudas’s, and Paystack’s, and Interswitch’s and more before that, it can sometimes feel like a lot of the VC activity in Africa - at least in terms of big tickets and amount raised - is about Nigerian fintech. Well, this is not just a feeling:

  • First off, in absolute numbers, Nigerian fintech have raised over $1.5bn since early 2019, which is more than the sum of all deals in South Africa + Egypt over that period.

  • After a little slump in 2020 ($318m vs. 2019’s $468m), Nigerian fintechs are on fire again this year: in the first 8 months of 2021, they have almost already raised as much as 2019 and 2020 combined. So far this year, 37% of all the VC funding in Africa has gone to Nigerian fintechs alone.*

  • Since 2019, 60% of all the funding raised by fintech start-ups has gone to Nigeria. Over the same period, fintech start-ups in Nigeria have captured 75% (!) of all the funding raised in Nigeria.

While founding and management teams of Nigerian fintechs tend to be overwhelmingly local, they also are overwhelmingly male: of the $1.5b+ of funding raised by Nigerian fintech since 2019, 99.6% went to start-ups with male CEOs, and 99.4% to all-male funding teams.

We’ve crossed the 50,000 total unique post views last week, and we can’t thank you enough for your support. We’ve also brought in some reinforcement, which is great: Welcome Crescence! If you have questions or comments, as always please do not hesitate to get in touch. And for the full database of deals, that’s here.

* Btw this is not just ‘the OPay effect’: even if we removed the $400m deal from the equation, Nigerian fintech would still be representing 22% of all funding in 2021 so far, more than its share in 2020 funding.

All the world's a stage

Exploring how African markets compare to their peers globally in terms of VC funding raised

If we take the continent as a whole, and compare with countries in the same range in terms of population, Africa’s $1.6bn of VC funding raised in 2020 is far behind China’s $57bn or even India’s $10bn. But we know that’s not a fair comparison at all, for many reasons. Now, if we look at a country level, focusing on populous fast-growing economies, and express the VC funding raised on a ‘per capita’ basis to account for differences in size, the numbers tell a different story. Kenya ($11 raised per capita), who led the way in terms of funding raised in 2020 in Africa, actually did better comparatively to India ($7 per capita). South Africa ($5 per capita) is more akin to Russia, and a bit below Mexico or India. Nigeria raised $2 per capita in 2020, a performance in line with that of the Philippines. Egypt’s $1.3 per capita is very similar to the continent’s overall average. Finally, the $13m raised by Ethiopia - one of three countries with 100m+ inhabitants on the continent with Nigeria and Egypt - only translate to $0.01 per capita, which puts it in the range of emerging Asian markets like Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Questions, comments, suggestions and shares are welcome, as always. And the full database of deals in Africa since early 2019, worth of total of - wait for it - 5 billion dollars (!!!!!) is still available at thebigdeal.gumroad.com, with a discount.

NB - In case you find the graph above is a bit much, here’s a simpler one using the same data 😉:

3 records for the price of one

OPay's $400m mega round (but not only) takes the ecosystem to new heights

Where do we begin?…

  • Back in mid July, the ecosystem had already raised as much as it had in the whole of 2019 through $1m+ deals*. As of last Friday - and even before ‘The News’ that dropped yesterday (see below) -, the total amount raised by start-ups in Africa so far this year had just surpassed the total amount raised in 2020 overall ($1.6bn).

  • And then on Monday, the rumours of an upcoming mega round by OPay - which had been going around since May - were confirmed to be true: the company just announced a $400m funding round. This is the largest round on record for the continent. And it means the ecosystem has now reached another milestone with over $2bn raised in 2021 so far.

  • Finally, it goes without saying that with the very good level of activity the ecosystem had already seen this month, and this extra $400m top-up, August 2021 will be the most successful month on record, a title held until now by November 2019, with $475m raised, driven by Interswitch’s unicorn-making round, and… OPay’s $120m Series B.

As they say: Onward and Upward!

We’re still enjoying a bit of a break but we’ll be back very soon with our regular Monday morning posts. In the meanwhile, you can always go back to previous posts, make a bit of noise on social media, give us ideas for future analysis… or just sit back and enjoy a m/cocktail 🍹

* For comparability’s sake with 2019 and 2020, all the numbers used include only deals $1m & over. Deals between $100k and $1m represent at least an extra $42m in 2021 so far. For a full list of those, check out the database here.

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