Beyond the 'Big Four'

A look at the countries gearing up to challenge the dominance of Africa's top ecosystems

The Big Four (NG, KE, ZA, EG) dominate funding news, with 75% of $1m+ deals, and 85% of the related funding. Some argue on occasion that the ‘Big Four’ are more a ‘Big Five’, given Ghana’s performance. However, with 3.5% of the total raised since 2019, it is still trailing behind Egypt (#4, 8%). And in 2021 so far, one start-up in Ghana has raised more than $1m (Redbird, $1.5m), compared to 10 in Egypt (for a total of $38m). Behind Ghana, three ecosystems boast between $40m and $60m of funding raised in the past 2.5 years: Uganda (#6), Tanzania (#7), and #Tunisia (#8). They are followed by a group of five, with a total raised between $10m and $20m each: Morocco (#9), Ethiopia (#10), Senegal (#11), Cameroon (#12) & Zimbabwe (#13). Rwanda - often a popular choice when people are asked to name the most active ecosystems on the continent - comes at #15, behind the DRC (#14). Though this ‘long tail’ still represents a low percentage of the funding raised in Africa overall, if we look at earlier-stage deals things are quite encouraging. For instance, of the disclosed deals $100k to $1m in 2021 so far, 1 in 3 is located outside of the Big Four, pointing to the development of a pipeline of future larger deals in these geographies. On the down side however, over half of Africa’s countries - with a combined population of 250+ million - cannot claim a single start-up having raised at least $1m since early 2019.