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Japan, NITDA to Launch Incubation Scheme for Nigerian Startups



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The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) working with Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is set to launch iHatch.

iHatch is a startup incubation scheme designed to expand the number of innovation-driven enterprises by Nigerian youths.

The scheme will include a 5-month free intensive incubation program where entrepreneurs’ business ideas are shaped and perfected, through a series of coaching, lectures, and boot camps, to generate viable and scalable business models.

The initiative launched through NITDA’s subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) will focus on developing Nigerian youths’ innovation, entrepreneurial skills and technological know-how.

According to the Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of NITDA, Mrs Hadiza Umar, iHatch’s incubation program will provide an opportunity “for startups that have innovative business ideas along with a prototype of their products or services”.

The participating startups, Umar said, will receive free offline and online interactive training from experienced coaches and mentors from over the world.

Other benefits would include free co-working space for the duration of the programme and investment opportunities.

In his remarks, the Director-General of NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said, “iHatch seeks to establish a programme that will accelerate the process of taking ideas to impact, hence providing the much-needed jobs for our teeming youths, and also nurturing that entrepreneurial spirit in them, which will catalyse the Nigerian digital economy to the next level.”

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Top Ten (10) Landmark Deals Sealed in 2022 by Nigerian Tech Startups



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In the year 2022, the tech ecosystem was on the ascendancy which many considered to be immune from the economic downturn. However as the macroeconomic factors began to intensify, the tech sector was greatly impacted which saw funding slowdowns, layoffs, etc.

In response to the economic downturn, 1013 tech firms laid off 153,160 in 2022, 59.57 percent more than the 95,991 that had been laid off since the onset of covid-19 before 2022.

Giant tech firms were also not left out as companies such as Meta, Amazon, Twitter, etc, all laid off a significant amount of their workforce. Also, some Nigerian firms were not isolated as firms such as Kuda and 54gene, were forced to downsize their workforce in other to navigate the economic downturn.

According to experts, while 2020 and 2021 were a season of plenty in the tech ecosystem, 2022 was the beginning of a drought season.

Meanwhile, despite the macroeconomic factors that ravaged the tech industry, some Nigerian tech startups sealed landmark deals in 2022, as some of these firms maintained a growth trajectory.

It is interesting to note that in Africa, even though the continent witnessed slow funding, Nigeria maintained the lead in terms of numbers

Here is a list of the top ten (10) landmark deals sealed in 2022 by Nigerian startups

10.) Credpal ($15 Million)

Nigerian Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Tech startup Credpal, that allows consumers to buy anything and pay for it in installments across online and offline merchants by providing them with access to credit at the point of check out, closed a bridge round of $15 million in equity and debt, the latter constituting a very large chunk of the financing — to expand its consumer credit offerings across Africa.

As one of the foremost providers of BNPL services on the continent, the seed round appears somewhat impressive, knowing how early the sector is in Nigeria and most of Africa.

9.) Bamboo ($15 Million)

Digital investment platform that provides real-time access to buy, hold, or sell stocks, Bamboo, raised a US$15 million Series A funding round to accelerate its growth, as well as move into new markets and launch more products.

With the funds raised, the startup revealed plans to further accelerate its growth, doubling down on unlocking new markets and launching more products.

8.) Umba ($15 million)

African digital bank, offering free bank accounts and financial services to customers Umba, raised $15 million in Series A funding in April.

The startup revealed that the new funding will allow it to test out, as it prepares to launch in new markets, including Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya, where mobile money is prominent.

The firm also disclosed making some expansions product-wise rolling out debit cards, savings accounts, and stock trading.

7.) Omnibiz ($15 million)

B2B e-commerce platform for FMCG manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, that supports local businesses and helps them navigate the modern market, Ominibiz, secured a $15 million pre-Series A investment led by Timon Capital, to begin further regional expansion.

Omnibiz seeks to become the primary B2B operating system for informal retailers, by helping with last-mile delivery, procurement, working capital, inventory management, and operational tools for tracking sales, cost, prices, and profit. 

6.) Vendease ($30 million)

Online marketplace that allows restaurants and other food businesses to buy supplies straight from manufacturers and farms, Vendease, raised $30 million in an equity and debt funding round to consolidate its growth and operations in Nigeria and Ghana, and to support its expansion across the continent.

Present in 8 cities across Nigeria and Ghana, Vendease makes bulk-buy deals with food suppliers, warehouses the food, and guarantees delivery within a day for food supplies at considerably cheaper prices for restaurants.

Over the last 12 months, the startup has moved more than 400,000 metric tonnes of food through its platform, helping its users save more than $2,000,000 in procurement costs and more than 10,000 procurement man-hours.

5.) Reliance Health ($40 Million)

Nigerian startup that uses technology to make quality healthcare delightful, affordable, and accessible in emerging markets, Reliance health raised $40 million in a series B round.

Reliance Health has bundled both vital concepts so that users can get access to an integrated suite of healthcare products via subscriptions. Some of that healthcare is provided by Reliance Health directly — through its telemedicine platform, drug delivery system, and two clinics based in Lagos, Nigeria.

The six-year-old startup said it has averaged a 3.5x year-over-year revenue growth from 2016, disclosing that the new round of funding led by General Atlantic will fuel this continued growth.

4.) TeamApt ($50 million)

Financial technology company that develops digital banking and payment platform for financial transactions, TeamApt now known as moniepoint, raised more than $50 million in funding to expand its credit offerings.

The round was co-led by QED Investors and Novastar Ventures. Other investors, including Lightrock and BII, took part.

TeamApt has progressed from developing mobile apps for major commercial banks to serving customers and businesses through its agency banking platform (Moniepoint) and merchant solution (Monnify).

The fintech company operates one of Nigeria’s largest business payments and banking platforms, with a $100 billion annualized transaction value processed through its products Moniepoint and Monnify.

Moniepoint now serves 400,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Nigeria, providing them with various features.

3.) ThriveAgric ($56.4 Million)

Agricultural technology providing access to finance, premium markets, and data-driven advisory for smallholder farmers, ThriveAgric raised US$56.4 million in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors to grow its 200,000-strong farmer base and expand into new African markets, including Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya.

Founded in 2017 and fully operational since 2018, ThriveAgric empowers farmers in Nigeria to sell their products to FMCGs and food processors, leveraging its proprietary technology to access finance as well as improve productivity and sales to promote food security. 

2.) Moove ($181.8 Million)

African-born global mobility fintech that provides revenue-based vehicle financing and financial services to mobility, entrepreneurs across ride-hailing, logistics, mass transit, and instant delivery platforms Moove,  raised the second highest amount of funding ($181.8 million) in 2022.

Moove launched in Europe for the first time when it launched a 100% EV rent-to-buy model in London. The company also launched in India and will launch 5,000 CNG and EVs across Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore in its first year to help create sustainable work opportunities in the developing economy.

Over the past two years, Moove claims its customers have completed over 11 million trips in Moove-financed vehicles, a feat, it claims, has been aided by its alternative credit scoring technology.

1.) Flutterwave ($250 Million)

Nigerian fintech company that provides a payment infrastructure for global merchants and payment service providers across the continent, Flutterwave raised $250 million in a Series D round that tripled the company’s valuation to over $3 billion in just twelve months.

At $3 billion, Flutterwave is currently the highest-valued African startup, surpassing the $2 billion valuation set by SoftBank-backed biotech Opay and FTX-backed cross-border payments platform Chipper Cash last year.

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Ride-Hailing Company Didi Resumes Registration of New Users After Ban is Lifted From App



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China’s ride-hailing giant Didi has resumed the registration of new users on its app, eight months after it was suspended by Chinese authorities.

Didi often referred to as “China’s Uber”, has for some time been awaiting approval to resume onboarding users on its platform, as a key step to return to normal business since the app was banned.

Having carefully cooperated with the Chinese cybersecurity review, the authorities have lifted the ban by granting them the go-ahead to resume new user registrations and downloads of its apps in China as soon as this week.

The latest move comes as Chinese policymakers are seeking to restore private sector confidence and counting on the
technology industry to help spur economic activity that has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said via a statement, “Our company has carefully cooperated with the country’s cybersecurity review, seriously dealt with the security problems found in the review, and carried out comprehensive certification for more than one year.

“Didi would also take effective measures to ensure platform safety and data security, and as well safeguard national cyberspace security”.

Investors King understands that trouble started for Didi in July 2021, when Chinese authorities ordered the country’s app store to remove Didi’s app, citing reasons that the platform was illegally collecting users’ data.

25 of its mobile apps were taken down, registration of new members was suspended, and it was slammed with a fine of &1.2 billion over data security.

The ban on Didi occurred less than a week after it went public on the New York stock exchange, in the biggest U.S. share offering by a Chinese company since Alibaba debuted in 2014.

Founded in 2012, Didi is China’s dominant ride-hailing service with 550 million annual active users globally. In the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, the app had 156 million monthly users, well above Uber’s 98 million in the same period.

The company handled 25 million rides a day in China, during the same period while Uber did 16 million.

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Indian Startup Sharecut Deactivates Accounts of Over 400 Employees Due to Macro Economic Factors



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Indian social media startup Sharecut has deactivated the accounts of over 400 of its employees, which is about 20% of its workforce, as it seeks to navigate the global economic downturn.

The startup which has already informed affected employees about the deactivation of accounts, through its CEO Ankush Sachdeva, disclosed that such a drastic decision was taken to ensure the financial health and longevity of the startup.

In his words, “We are taking a very different decision today to part ways with around 20% of our talented full-time employees to ensure the financial health and longevity of our company in the current uncertain macroeconomic environment.

“In hindsight, we overestimated the market growth in the highs of 2021 and underestimated the duration and intensity of the global liquidity squeeze”.

Speaking on the deactivation of laid-off employees’ accounts, the CEO disclosed that revoking employees’ access was not an ideal experience, although, after much deliberation, he disclosed that that was the only practical solution.

For the affected employees, they will receive the total salary for their notice period and two weeks’ pay as ex gratia for every year they served the startup. The employees will also get  100% of the variable pay until December 2023, and their health insurance policy coverage will remain until the end of June.

Also, for employees who have to leave the startup as part of the job cuts, their Esops that vest on April 30, 2023, will be retained by those staffers.

Investors King understands that a month ago, sharecut laid off 5% of its employees after it shut down its fantasy sports platform Jeet 11 after disclosing that the platform never gained any meaningful traction among its users.

Sharecut since its operation had raised a total of $1.7 billion in funding over 15 rounds and is reportedly funded by 26 investors with tech giant Google as one of the lead investors.

The start-up has a total workforce of around 2,300 employees, but the recent layoffs at the company will no doubt result in a decline in the number of employees.

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