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E-commerce Startup Sendbox Raises $1.8M to Digitise Deliveries for African SMEs

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Sendbox, the Nigeria-based e-commerce fulfilment platform for merchants in Africa, has announced the completion of a $1.8 million seed round from investors, including 4DX Ventures, Enza Capital, FJLabs and Golden Palm Investments.

With participation from Flexport and YC Combinator as part of its 2021 winter cohort, Sendbox’s total investment raised has now reached $2 million following a pre-seed round from Microtraction and 4DX Ventures in 2018.

Starting with logistics and fulfilment, Sendbox is building the operating system for e-commerce in Africa. Launched in 2018, the company provides affordable access to local and international delivery options for small-scale merchants selling on e-commerce and social media platforms. Accessible to iOS and Android users, via the web application, on Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and other e-commerce platforms, and through developer APIs, Sendbox is providing a single location to manage both local deliveries and international shipments to the EU, UK, US and Canada.

To date, over 10,000 Nigerian SMEs have sent 200,000 products through Sendbox, saving on average 30-40 percent per item by eliminating the need to work with separate logistics providers. Through its delivery management platform, which aggregates logistics providers and enables tracking, the company also offers a solution for merchants who lack the high volumes required to attract discounted delivery fees.

The next stage of the company’s growth will see a move towards financing & payments, followed by e-commerce & marketplace integrations across West Africa and further afield. According to the company, the new funding will be used to expand the company’s operations in other countries across West Africa, bolster the development of its product range, and hire new talent.

Commenting on Sendbox’s fundraise and growth ambitions, Emotu Balogun, CEO and Co-Founder of Sendbox said, “No matter where in the world customers are, we want African SMEs to be able to reach them.” He continues, “Deliveries in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan have made up a large proportion of business for our domestic merchants. On top of that, affordable access to the UK, EU, US, and Canada has created an opportunity to sell products to hundreds of millions of previously unreachable buyers. With this fund, we aim to support more and more SMEs and help them grow both locally and internationally, scaling alongside them as we connect African merchants with a global community of consumers.”

“African e-commerce is accelerating faster than anybody could have imagined a decade ago, and it needs smart solutions to ensure that logistics and fulfilment capacity doesn’t lag behind,” said Walter Baddoo, Co-Founder and General Partner at 4DX Ventures. “Not only were we impressed by Sendbox’s 300 percent year-on-year growth since launch, but we’re seeing the market potential balloon with over 40 million Nigerian SMEs and a projected industry value for social and e-commerce reaching $45 billion on the continent by 2025.”

Prolific mobile penetration on the continent, the rise of social media and knock-on impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted additional momentum towards e-commerce and social commerce, doubling monthly revenues for Sendbox since March 2020.

Made in Africa products are now in higher demand across local and international markets. With 200 million Instagram users and 1 million Instagram businesses in Nigeria alone, Sendbox is well-positioned to serve this growing market and multiply its merchant count over the coming months.

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Fund Raising

Atomico Close to Landing Over $1 Billion for New Start-up Fund

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Sources in the industry report that Atomico, the venture capital firm based in London and set up by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, is about to announce a new start-up fund which is worth around $1.2 billion.

The investment company is close to raising what is referred to as an “early stage” fund of about $400 million, tailored to helping young start-ups. The information was provided to the CNBC by two venture capitalists, who required their identities to be concealed due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

These capitalists further mentioned that Atomico is developing a “late stage” fund of about $800 million, to support the more established start-ups that require larger amounts of capital to continue their growth. The CNBC received no response from Atomico when a request for comment was made.

The CNBC spoke to a third source, a start-up executive who also did not want to be named due to the nature of discussions. This source told the CNBC that Atomico had informed his own company that it was in the process of raising even more capital from limited partners.

Many other Venture Capitalist (VC) sources stated that they were unaware of any fundraising plans, but would not be surprised if Atomico announced a new fund anytime soon.

It however remains unclear how much more capital Atomico still needs to raise for both the early and late stage funds, and when these funds will be announced officially.

From its inception till date, Atomico – which has its headquarters in Mayfair – has raised five funds. The last fund which the company raised was worth $820 million, and was announced in February 2020.

In the past, Atomico has used its funds to support some of the world’s most valuable start-up companies. These companies include Stripe, Klarna, flying car start-up Lilium and AI (Artificial Intelligence) chip designer Graphcore.

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HouseAfrica, CARMA, Two Other African Blockchain Startups Receives $125K Funding From CV Labs

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Four African blockchain startups, HouseAfrica, CARMA, Mazzuma and Pravica have received $125,000 in Funding from CV Lab, these startups also qualify for a three-month CV Labs Global Incubation program and other CV VC-run initiatives.

CV VC  (Crypto Valley Venture Capital) is a Swiss Investment Company and an early-stage venture capital investor with a focus on startups that build on blockchain technology. CV Labs offers a three-month hybrid Blockchain incubation program that invests up to $125’000 in great startups in return for 10% equity and /or tokens

In July 2021, CV VC extends its operations into Africa setting up the company’s first office on the African continent in Cape Town. The company said, “CV VC’s goal in Africa, together with partners from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and local stakeholders, is to invest in 100 startups that have the potential to tackle the challenges of the African continent over the next four years. The SECO signed a special agreement with CV VC. The joint project aims to support the development of an independent ecosystem in South Africa by transferring know-how and experience from Swiss Crypto Valley to serve as a hub for Africa”.

The program, which also includes BlockFrauds (UK) and CO2DAO (Switzerland), recently kicked off with “Africa Week,” in which CV VC partner Binance Smart Chain, the University of Johannesburg, and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative collaborated with the innovators for a week in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The four Selected African Blockchain Startups are:

HouseAfrica (Nigeria) is a Blockchain Technology company building a digitized property record system that assists home buyers and financial institutions to access, verify authenticity and value properties before investing. Properties are accessed and sold by sharing site digital layout.

CARMA (Nigeria) is the world’s first P2P data marketplace company created to fill the credit-data gap in sub-Saharan Africa. Organizations are provided credit data which allows them to make data-driven business decisions.

Mazzuma (Ghana), “the Future of Online Payments” is a mobile payments system that specializes in the use of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to facilitate seamless payments transactions.

Cairo-based startup Pravica, is a unified, secure and privacy-compliant communication platform that uses blockchain technology to empower user privacy and security.

CV Labs has incubated 22 businesses throughout the world, the managing director of CV VC Africa, Gideon Greaves said he’s excited to see the collaboration with SECO to assist the establishment of an autonomous blockchain ecosystem in Africa to become reality.

“I’m incredibly excited to be a part of CV VC’s journey into Africa. Being a leapfrog population, we are in a prime position to adopt this disruptive technology and I believe this continent can lead the crypto and blockchain charge”. He said

“We are happy to start our Africa chapter with an initial foothold in South Africa, a thriving hub for entrepreneurs, developers and creatives and an already well-established startup and technology ecosystem. With the experience and know-how from Crypto Valley, including infrastructure providers, an enabling regulatory framework and our global network, we will be able to accelerate growth for blockchain startups and grow the blockchain ecosystem in all of Africa”, said Mathias Ruch, CEO and founder of CV VC.

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Nigerian e-Health Pharmaceutical Startup, DrugStoc, Lands $4.4 Million Funding

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Nigerian Pharmaceutical Distribution startup DrugStoc has landed its own Series A funding to the tune of $4.4 million, according to TechCrunch

In Africa, the pharmaceutical supply chain has been fractured for decades. This has resulted in challenges in distribution and sourcing, as well as concerns about quality as fake and substandard products have begun to flood the market. The good news is however that these issues that are facing the pharmaceutical supply chain are fixable.

Chibuzo Opara and Adham Yehia who are highly familiar with the problems of poor pharmaceutical supply chains, are planning to spread the reach of DrugStoc. DrugStoc is an e-health drug acquisition platform that does its best to fight against these challenges by linking drug companies with health institutions such as hospitals and pharmacies across the country.

DrugStoc is presently on a highly vigorous expansion plan, which includes delivering standard quality pharmaceutical products to 100 million people, after recently securing the $4.4 million Series A funding.

The startup’s current plan is to expand into 16 states within the country as it seeks to move beyond Lagos, the economic hub of Nigeria. Asides this is its much bigger plan to expand beyond Nigeria into other markets within Africa.

The availability of high-quality, standard pharmaceutical products especially within the country will result in the prevention of thousands of potential deaths. These include loss of life which is linked to loss of blood during childbirth, or children losing the fight against diarrheal diseases.

TechCrunch reports that the company has stated that it currently serves about 14 million people.

The startup’s funding round was spearheaded by Africa HealthCare Master Fund (AAIC), with investments following from Chicago-based venture firm Vested World, German Development Bank (DEG) and individuals with high net worths who have strong interest in tech-health.

AAIC Director, Nobuhiko Ichimaya said that the Fund is “glad” to support a company which is now positioned to be an important player in the growth of the tech-health sector in Africa.

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