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Nigeria Start-ups Hot for Investors

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  • Nigeria Start-ups Hot for Investors

The year 2017 was eventful for the Nigerian small business sector. The sector emerged as one of the hottest for investors. Leading venture capital firms evaluated several start-ups. Many secured seed funding in Africa and attracted increased international support. The space saw a significant investment of over $ 200 million spread across small businesses and projects. The general trend was that the seed/angel rounds got bigger.

During the year, many startups get more than $ 50,000 investment.

Three Nigerian tech start-ups received $8.35m in seed capital from local and foreign investors: Wi-Fi provider Tzeti ($2.1m), e-commerce start-up Cars45 $5m and Fintech firm Lydia ($1.25m).

Fntech startup Lydia is a financial services platform, which grants individuals and African businesses access to small loans, using credit scoring algorithms.

Another start up, online travel agency, Travel beta raised $2 million seed funding from a group of Nigerian Investors barely six weeks after the company was launched on October 1.

Three Nigerian start-ups secured $450,000 funding from 500 Startups. The tech start-ups, which include Mail Haven, Mobile Forms and Fyodor Biotechnologies, were part of the 36 companies drawn from across the world.

Last year, Coding School Andela in October secured $40million funding from investors such as CRE VC, Salesforce Ventures, DBL Partners, etc, to fund an aggressive expansion across Africa, taking its total venture funding to over $80 million. Andela, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers.

A payments startup, Flutter wave, also secured funding of $10 million.

Digital and crowd-funded agriculture platform, FarmCrowdy announced raising $1m seed fund, barely a year after it launched, from Techstars and other international investors.

FarmCrowdy was the first and only African startup to be shortlisted into Techstars Atlanta’s accelerator programme in August. The seed fund will allow the award-winning startup to scale its operations with plans to expand to combined 20 states, work with 4,000 additional small-scale farmers and engage a combined 20,000 new farm followers and farm sponsors on its platform to learn about the opportunities in agriculture and partner farmers.

Former Minister of Communication Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson announced TLcom Capital’s $40m seed fund for African tech startups. Mrs Johnson is the Lead General Partner for TLcom in Lagos.

Founded in 1999, TLcom Capital has invested in targeted businesses, which address technological issues in either large established global markets, or in the development of emerging markets with the potential for a global scale.

During the year, former country Manager of Starta, Yele Bademosi established Microtraction to invest early in the most remarkable technical founders as well as provide support to build world-class startups.

Microtraction commited $65,000 at two different stages to recipient startups, an initial tranche of $15,000 for 7.5 per cent equity stake, followed by an extra $50,000 (convertible note) at a $1 million valuation cap for companies that showed significant progress.

Also, a venture capital firm, LoftyInc Capital Management announced the close of its Afropreneur Fund 1 and the launch of a new $25 million Afropreneur Fund II. LoftyInc Capital said the new fund will focus on early-stage enterprises that leverage technologies to create social impact and tackle big problems. The launch of the new fund was announced at Africa Diaspora Network’s Annual Investment Symposium in Silicon Valley.

“The key goal of the Afropreneur Funds is to leverage these investments for social impact, contributing as much to social change and impact as to the bottom-line, lifting millions out of poverty, illiteracy, sickness and unemployment,” the firm said. LoftyInc Capital Management (LCM) is an initiative of Idris Bello and partners.

During the year also, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) brought valuable experience and network apart from the financial support to the start-up community. MEST, a not-for-profit organisation that invests in and trains African Entrepreneurs, with the aim to create next tech entrepreneurs and provide jobs for the continent, provides funding, space and expertise.

It also powers a cluster of innovation networks for startups in Lagos. Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, MEST has invested $20 million since opening its doors in 2008 to aspiring African entrepreneurs and has gone to recruit talents from not only Ghana, but Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Cote D’ivoire.

$1 million venture capital fund

The Federal Government through the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, established a $1 million venture capital to boost the creative Industry.

He announced this in Lagos at the opening of a two-day Creative Industry Financing Conference, saying 20 individuals, each investing $50,000, are expected to help make up the required amount. So far, he said, five people had volunteered to invest $50,000 each and expressed the optimism that more investors would come forward.

The Venture Capital, according to him, would provide seed money for young and talented Nigerians to set up businesses in the creative industry. He said Nigeria’s creative industry needs to be taken into a golden era of smooth access to short and long term financing.

Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)

New set of 1, 438 beneficiaries of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) received cheques totaling N924.7 million from Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

The governor, who presented the cheques to the beneficiaries at the blue roof Lagos Television (LTV) Agidingbi, said the initiative was geared towards providing funds for entrepreneurs, artisans and traders among others, to help boost their business and tackle unemployment challenges in the state.

The governor in January had presented cheques totaling about N1 billion to 705 beneficiaries, who were selected after scaling through a transparent screening process in the pilot phase.

Growing interest in Nigeria

To experts, the Nigerian startup ecosystem has definitely taken off. It has been driven by increased international funding, evolving technology space and a burgeoning demand within the domestic market.

Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti said the state is building an ecosystem with significant improvements in ease of doing business, liberalisation in taxation policies and simplification of regulatory procedures.

He reiterated that Lagos’s economic future lay in encouraging startups, which will bring dynamism, new thinking and create jobs for the economy.

Growing interest in Nigeria globally has led to foreign companies and funds such as Alibaba (China), showing interest in new generation entrepreneurs. The Global Startup Ecosystem Report and Ranking 2017, produced by Startup Genome in collaboration with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), noted that at $2 billion, the Lagos startup ecosystem is the most valuable in Africa continent, but only second after Cape Town in terms of the number of startups.

The study said Lagos ecosystem has the ninth highest rate of founders with an undergraduate degree at 59 per cent, while 93 per cent of them have a technical background, the third highest rate in the world.

However, Lagos startups have one of the lowest rates of foreign customers, suggesting challenges to going global. Only 11 per cent of startups plan to go global.

“While Nigeria is busy adding six million new internet users every year, the feverish entrepreneurial energy of Lagos and its estimated 400-700 active startups stayed consistent by providing them with useful new technologies,” the report said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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FirstWave Signs Level 1 Partner Agreement with pan-African technology company Moja Access

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Neil Pollock, CEO, FirstWave Cloud Technology - investorsking.com

Leading Australian-headquartered, global, cybersecurity-as-a-service company, FirstWave Cloud Technology Limited (ASX: FCT) (FirstWave), is pleased to announce the signing of a three-year Level 1 Partner Agreement with Moja Access, part of CSquared Group (www.csquared.com), a pan-African technology company.

Moja Access is the Kenya-based operating company of CSquared, a joint venture between Google LLC, Japan-based Mitsui & Co, investment firm Convergence Partners, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group), with the goal to make commercially driven investments to improve and increase connectivity and internet access in Sub-Saharan Africa.

CSquared currently operates fibre and last mile WiFi networks in several cities across Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia, with over 40 mobile operators and internet service providers relying on its infrastructure for serving mobile consumers and corporate customers. These four African nations had over 10 million Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and over 70 million internet users at the end of 2020.

In the initial phase of this partnership, FirstWave has deployed its recently launched FirstCloud™ WebProtect DNS platform for each of CSquared’s four territories for use by CSquared’s operating companies and Level 2 partners. CSquared’s operating companies’ partners and their end-customers will get the web security solution as part of their internet service on an “opt-out” basis.

As a consequence, revenue generation will commence immediately, and end-customers can ‘opt-out’ if, for any reason, they decide they do not want the service. Moja Access is currently in conversations with customers for uptake of this service.

The Partnership Agreement is for a 3-year term with rolling 6-month extension options thereafter and in keeping with FirstWave’s unique service proposition – democratising enterprise-grade cybersecurity-as-aservice – the vast number of MSMEs and Internet users across these 4 African nations can now be protected on CSquared’s network from cyber intruders, on a consumption basis, at an affordable monthly price.

FirstWave’s business head for EMEA & North America region, Sundar Bharadwaj, said, “CSquared Group’s Kenya-based entity Moja Access is a truly innovative partner for FirstWave in Sub-Saharan Africa with excellent credentials with its Telco and ISP client base. We look forward to expanding the reach for our Enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions to small and large end-customers through this partnership.”

Lanre Kolade, Group CEO of CSquared, said, “We are very excited to have signed this partnership with FirstWave. Our clients, including Telcos and Internet Service Providers, will benefit from FirstWave’s differentiated SaaS products. It will allow us to rapidly deploy and sell on a consumption based monthly pricing model, enterprise grade cybersecurity services to all our clients and their end-customers, large and small.”

FirstWave’s CEO, Neil Pollock, said, “I’m delighted to welcome CSquared Group’s Moja Access as our 8th Level 1 partner and see initial revenues already flowing from the partnership. CSquared is a fast-growing pan-African service provider backed by two large global corporations Google LLC and Mitsui & Co. CSquared already delivers robust fibre connectivity and internet access to thousands of end-customers via its 40+ mobile operator and ISP clients. With revenues already delivered, the partnership has had a really positive start.”

This announcement has been approved for release by the Board of Directors.

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Fintech Startups Hit $121.7B in Total Funding, a $20B Increase in a Year

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Fintech Startups Raises $121.7B in Funding in 2020

Recent years have witnessed a surge in the number of fintech investments, with record funding levels and rising valuations. The strong investment activity in the fintech sector continued in 2020, despite the global slowdown in venture capital deals caused by the COVID-19.

According to data presented by AksjeBloggen.com, the cumulative value of funds fintech startups raised over time hit $121.7bn in February, a $20bn increase in a year.

Asian Fintechs Raised $50.3B, 40% of Total Funding

The financial services industry continues attracting tech companies that transform how people and businesses spend, invest, save, and borrow money. The rapid growth of the entire sector has been followed by the increasing number of venture capitalists willing to invest in fintech companies and support their business.

In 2018, fintech startups raised $31.3bn with the cumulative funding value reaching $71.3bn that year, revealed the Crunchbase data. By the end of 2019, this figure jumped to $95.8bn, a $24.5bn increase in a year.

Statistics show that 2020 witnessed $20.3bn of investments into the fintech sector, despite a significant drop in global venture capital funding caused by the pandemic. The cumulative value of investments hit $116.1bn last year, and this figure rose by another $5.6bn in the last two months.

Statistics show that Asian fintechs lead in the total value of investments, with $50.3bn in funding rounds so far. The North American companies raised $47.8bn in funding, ranking as the second-leading region globally. European fintech startups follow with $18.2bn worth of investments.

The Number of Fintech Startups Tripled in Two Years

Although the COVID-19 may have influenced the investment activity in the fintech sector, the pandemic also triggered a surge in the use of fintech solutions, creating a huge space for new companies.

The BCG data revealed the number of fintech startups worldwide tripled in the last two years, rising from over 12,200 in 2019 to 26,000 in 2021.

As of February 2021, there were 10,605 financial technology startups in North America as the leading region, up from 5,800 in 2019.

However, statistics show Europe, the Middle East, and Africa have witnessed the most significant increase in the number of fintech startups. In 2019, almost 3,600 companies were operating in this sector. Since then, the number of fintech startups in the EMEA region surged by 160% to more than 9,300.

Asia and the Pacific ranked third with more than 6,100 fintech startups as of February, up from 2,800 in 2019.

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AFP Supports Access to Renewable Energy with €70m

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AFP Supports Access to Renewable Energy with €70m

The Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) is supporting access to renewable energy for Nigerian manufacturers with €70 million under the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Finance (SUNREF) Nigeria Programme for renewable energy.

The fund would be administered through the Access Bank Plc and the United Bank for Africa Plc.

However, only renewable energy projects like solar, wind, small hydro, biomas including waste-to-energy power plants would be eligible for funding under the SUNREF initiative.

The AFP described energy efficiency projects (EEP) as capital expenditure projects that would allow energy consumers to use less energy for achieving the same level of energy service.

The AFP made this known during the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency investors’ virtual conference that was held on Wednesday, in partnership with the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), which is a technical assistance programme co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Government and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Power and All-On of the Shell Foundation.

The conference was aimed at enabling the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) to understand the SUNREF’s technical requirements, equipment and installation quality standards, self-regulatory initiatives and certification for industry practitioners.

The President of the Nigerian Manufacturers Association (MAN), Mr. Mansur Ahmed, who participated in the conference, described the financial and technical assistance offered by the SUNREF as significant opportunity that came at a time, “we needed it most more than ever” to address one of the most militating factors against industrial development of Nigeria.

Mansur said: “Clearly, this is the time for every effort to shore up the manufacturing sector is very welcomed. Therefore, I am delighted that this green energy project is focusing on renewable energy in improving energy efficiency.

“It is our hope that our members will take the full advantage of this facility and be able to diversify their energy sources, improve energy consumption and be able to expand their productive capacity, which is indeed very important in the current state of our economy. I, therefore, urge our members to take full advantage of this.”

The Country Director of the AFP, Ms. Virginie Diaz, said in her opening remark during the conference that the SUNREF would basically provide financial and technical assistance “aimed at supporting business strategies in the green energy sector in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which Nigeria has been supportive of.”

Also, the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Ms. Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, said the conference would enable investors and service providers to showcase their products and be able to develop relationships with clients and prospective investors in Nigeria.

She added: “I will like to highlight that this collaboration is an innovative financing and project that will help to address Nigeria’s energy gaps by mobilising foreign investments to finance green power projects.”

The SUNREF Nigeria Team Lead, Mr. Javier Betancourt, described SUNREF as integrated environmental finance that is dedicated to developing renewable energy in Nigeria.

Betancourt said in his presentation during the conference that the AFD has put in place targeted support to develop innovative green financing through dedicated credit lines through local financial institutions in the country.

He said: “The SUNREF is part of the broader initiative to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as the sustainable use of natural resources.”

According to the Chief Executive Officer of All On, Dr. Wiebe Boer, the mission of the SUNREF is to bring the members of the MAN into the green energy fold.

Boer observed that any opportunity to address the significant gap that exists in access to energy in Nigeria would have considerable economic and social impacts.

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