Africa presents a $2.1 trillion consumer spending market for businesses seeking to explore new opportunities for their products and services. Enabling businesses to enter the continent is Versus Africa, a consumer insights platform, that has today announced a $850k pre-seed capital fundraise as it scales operations to support companies in Africa and around the world as they launch their products and services across Africa.
A Techstars 2019 cohort start-up, Versus Africa helps brands get closer to their consumers by obtaining key insights and helping them make better business decisions. Versus combines online and offline consumer data to give brands actionable and competitive insights for the African market. Versus counts brands such as Pizza Hut, Vodacom among others and has partnered with several global agencies including R/GA to support their campaigns.
The Versus Africa platform improves the go-to market strategy and approach of businesses selling in the continent. Through their unique African language sentiment analysis, the technology captures consumer insights using online (social listening and online brand tracking) and offline data trends (conducting in-person surveys through several thousand local scouts) to help brands inform, engage and adapt their product and service strategies. They ‘listen’ (for sentiment, trends and feedback) and then ‘ask’ (for opinions, about behaviours and motivations) to offer a complete insights package for businesses.
Kemdi Ebi, CEO and Co-Founder of Versus commented: “We’ve purposely built our tool to help businesses “’listen” and ”ask” the African consumer to get true engagement and actionable insights. We’re helping them make sense of the thoughts and opinions of African consumers from varying backgrounds. For those who speak in different African languages and slang, we’re able to accurately identify sentiment, trends and opportunities when we “listen” online. With real-time market research and unique patented tools that translate the complexity of local languages and cultures, Versus offers actionable insights to businesses that want to make their African market entry or continuing existence a success.”
The complex nature of the continent with multiple languages, varying socio-political communities and cultural nuances means it has long been difficult for companies to be successful across multiple countries. Versus Africa offers a fresh lens into the market opportunity with their unique and dynamic research approach.
“We have blended technology with boots on the ground to offer the purest insights to companies using Versus Africa. For the first time, businesses near and far are able to make better decisions on their product strategy in the continent. We are particularly excited because as we scale further, we are in pole position to be the go-to homegrown solution for easy, flexible and accurate research for the plethora of new local businesses cropping up across the continent” added Kemdi Ebi.
Commenting on investing in Versus Africa, the MD of Techstars London Eamonn Carey said: “For the longest time, it’s been apparent that there is huge potential in markets throughout Africa – but one of the big challenges has always been getting real, detailed, granular data about users, habits, opinions and more. The Versus Africa platform helps local, regional and global brands get real, meaningful answers to their questions – helping them launch, grow and scale more effectively across the continent. I was incredibly impressed by the team, the tech and the vision they had to use a combo of tech and people to gather an incredible dataset for their customers.”
Various global research businesses have reported on Africa’s macro trends and geo-political events. Before Versus, there have been few that have achieved true regional and local market insights for businesses to make informed decisions.
“How many Africans own and operate research in Africa? Not many. Africa deserves a local intelligence research edge born from within. There have been international research agencies and insights tools that have tried to explore Africa but only from a distant and macro lens, now, for the first time businesses will get true local insights to help them enter key markets across the continent. I hope our launch and growth propels more like-minded tech-focussed Africans to help grow this research industry” concluded Kemdi Ebi.
Nigerian Mobility Startup, Moove Secures $20M Financing From BII to Scale Operations in Nigeria
Moove, a mobility fintech democratising access to vehicle ownership in Africa has secured US $20 million in a 4-year structured credit investment from British International Investment (BII), the UK government’s Development Finance Institution (DFI), formerly known as CDC Group.
Moove is democratising access to vehicle ownership by providing revenue-based vehicle financing and financial services to mobility entrepreneurs. The mobility fintech is creating sustainable employment opportunities to empower those otherwise excluded from financial services by embedding its alternative credit scoring technology onto ride-hailing, e-logistics and instant delivery platforms, and using proprietary performance and revenue analytics to underwrite vehicle loans.
Since its launch in 2020, Moove has rapidly expanded its operations within Nigeria and has entered into new African markets including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, as well as Europe, Middle East and Asia markets.
According to the mobility company, the collaboration between Moove and BII reflects BII’s focus on mobilising capital to build self-sufficiency and market resilience in Nigeria and improve access to inclusive economic opportunities while helping to catalyse the country’s boundless entrepreneurial ambition.
Investors King gathered that Moove was the first business to qualify for BII’s BOLD (Black Ownership and Leadership Development).
Speaking on the new funding, Ladi Delano, co-founder/ co-CEO at Moove, said, “we’re incredibly proud to welcome onboard a world-class partner such as BII, whose strategic support will play a key role in our mission to build the world’s largest integrated vehicle financing platform for mobility entrepreneurs.
“With our new funding, we’re now in an even stronger position to use our technology and productivity data in creating a more inclusive financing ecosystem, whilst also tackling the unemployment problem affecting over a third of Nigerians by generating the opportunity for more seamless and sustainable employment.”
The CEO of BII, Nick O’Donohoe commented on how BII’s new five-year strategy is driving its investment in the world’s first mobility fintech.
“Investing in the prosperity of Nigeria’s growing population requires innovative new partnerships that can leverage the country’s abundant capabilities and expertise. In Moove, BII has a partner that aligns with our commitment to back dynamic tech-enabled businesses that can help accelerate impact in Nigeria by strengthening the country’s informal transport industry,” he said.
“I am delighted that not only will BII’s investment help to create jobs and provide entrepreneurial self-starters with the means to own their vehicles, but Moove’s clear focus on gender diversity will foster inclusive economic opportunities for women, both within the company’s workforce and among its drivers,” he added.
Nigeria is the BII’s biggest investment market in Africa, with a portfolio of nearly US $570 million, through more than 100 businesses and 43 funds, which collectively support almost 45,000 jobs across the country in 2020.
MFS Africa Moves to Expand Operations, Raises Additional $100 Million
Africa’s leading payments start-up, MFS Africa has raised an additional $100 million in equity and debt to expand its operations across Africa and integrate into the global digital payment ecosystem.
The company has now raised a combined $200 million in its Series C round led by an African investment manager, Admaius Capital Partners. Also, investors like AfricInvest Five and CommerzVentures that participated in the first Series C round doubled down while Vitruvian Partners and AXA Investment Managers made the first investment in the company.
Stanbic IBTC Bank, a Lagos-based lender, and Symbiotic will finance MFS Africa’s debt.
Explaining the reason for the new investment, MFS Africa said the fund is meant to achieve four main objectives:
- To expand operations across Africa
- Integrate into the global digital payment ecosystem
- Expansion into Asia and create cross-border payments synergies with Africa via a joint venture with LUNa Partners
- And carry out its growth plans for BAXI, a startup it acquired late last year.
Last week, Financial Times reported that MFS Africa had acquired a U.S.-based Global Technology Partners (GTP) in a cash-and-shares deal estimated at $34 million, this acquisition set MFS Africa apart from other African startups and further highlighted the company’s acquisition for expansion strategy.
For instance, the BAXI acquisition has given MFS Africa access to the Payment Service Solution Provider (PSSB) and Payment Terminal Service Provider (PTSP) licenses. With the PSSP license, BAXI can build gateways that process payments for third parties and the PTSP license will allow the company to operate point of sale terminals for agency banking currently being pushed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Investors King stated.
Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou explained that the strength of MFS Africa is in digital infrastructure building and several initiatives to provide access to Africans at home and in the diaspora.
“The strength of our business model is grounded on building a lasting digital infrastructure that unleashes and simplifies economic activities across the continent through any-to-any interoperability,” Okoudjou said in a statement. “Our multiple initiatives and solutions are providing access to Africans, at home and in the diaspora. We are building MFS Africa into a safe, sound, scalable and high-impact pan-African payment infrastructure that will facilitate Africa’s rapidly growing commerce, both now and in the future.”
Kwik Secures $2M in New Funding Round to Extend Services
The startup which is also based in France was launched in Lagos in 2019 with last-mile delivery service offered to B2B merchants and from social vendors to e-commerce platforms.
According to thee startup founder and CEO, Romain Poirot-Lellig, Kwik will use the funding in this new round to add a financial solution to its existing offerings. Other investors in this round include Humla Ventures, Nabuboto, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Pulse Africa founder Leonard Stiegeler.
Having established in Nigeria, the startup sets itself up for competition from known names like GoKada who also have a remarkable presence with its last-mile delivery offering in many parts of Nigeria. However, Kwik has also had a remarkable run since it was established in 2019. The startups has also launched in Nigeri’s capital territory, Abuja, where it also boasts of more than 100,000 merchants who use the platform – both on web and its mobile application – to run a number of logistical, commercial and financial needs of their businesses. And according to Romain, there are more than 75% weekly active users on the app.
With the fund raised, the startup wantf to make do on what the founder had earlier said about its product when he disclosed that Kwik wants to “bring the informal economy into the formal economy,” by focusing on last-mile delivery, e-commerce (warehousing and fulfilment) and the proposed financial services it is about to add.
Speaking about the startup offerings, Romain said: “Our goal is for Kwik to become the prime app choice for African social vendors and traditional merchants going digital. Integrating delivery, payment and e-commerce tools seamlessly in one easy-to-use mobile app is a catchy proposition. This financing round will enable us to expand across all three key verticals and select geographic areas. We are purely a software company. We create a community and a matchmaking playground. We ensure that we enforce the rules of the playground, both on the merchants’ side and on the partners’ side. The financing part is the last part we’re building. For the moment, we connect riders and financing institutions that are willing to finance bikes. On top of that, we’re going to launch a B2B lending marketplace by the end of the year to enable merchants to get financing.”
Investors King also gathered that the startup is aiming to use the funds to acquire more customers and expand its reach beyond Lagos and Abuja with plans already on the way for Ibadan, Kano, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
Poirot-Lellig also disclosed that the company plans to increase the number of merchants on its platform to 800,000 by the end of 2022.
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