Bolt, Estonia ride-hailing startup, has secured $711 million or €628 million funds from investors to expand its transportation and food delivery operations. The new funding pushes Bolt’s valuation to $8.4 billion or €7.4 billion from over $4.5 million or €4 billion it was valued in August 2020 when it raised $679 million or €600 million in funding.
According to the company, the secured fund will be used to expand operations to new cities/countries, onboard more customers on its super app and new line businesses such as its 15 minutes grocery delivery options.
Participants of the fund round are, Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Management and Research Company LLC, Whale Rock, Owl Rock (a division of Blue Owl), D1, G Squared, Tekne, Ghisallo, and other unnamed backers investors.
Markus Villig, the founder and CEO of Bolt in an interview, said, “we are expanding all the five product lines extremely quickly, developing product R&D and rolling out in new cities”. He affirmed that all the company’s business units are growing, the ride-hailing business “is seeing double-digit growth,” and the new businesses are growing even faster.
Compared to 75 million customers reported in August, Bolt now has more than 100 million customers in over 400 cities in 49 countries subscribed to its services.
Speaking on the challenges the company faced at the advent of COVID-19, Markus said there were “short-term fluctuations” in demand, however, Bolt launched a strategy to attract and keep drivers by focusing on better commission between 10 percent and 20 percent better than competitors.
“There is a massive lack of supply on these platforms, so we have focused on taking the most partner-friendly lowest commission,” he said.
Speaking on the company’s expansion to developed countries, Markus said, “We started off in Eastern Europe and Africa because those markets had a bigger need. They had lower car ownership, higher unemployment [making for a market with many freelance drivers], It made sense. But now we’ve learned that this model works everywhere, and it’s actually easier to grow in Western Europe because they are developed markets. We found if you can make this model work in really cheap, frugal markets, then once you go to London or Stockholm, it’s materially easier. And the unit economics are definitely better because the prices are higher.”
Andrew Reed, a partner at Sequoia said, “We’re excited to deepen our partnership with Markus and Bolt to further their mission to make urban travel affordable, sustainable and safe. At Sequoia, we believe in the global potential for technology and entrepreneurship and have been inspired by Bolt’s growth from Tallinn, Estonia to over 400 cities and 100 million customers across Europe and Africa. We’re eager to help them expand their footprint, increase their product offering and improve the quality of life in cities for the long term.”
Talk360 Seed Round Reaches $7M After New Funding
Talk 360 has secured a combined $7 million in seed rounds to build a payment platform for Africa
South African startup Talk 360, a leading voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) player in Africa, has secured a combined $7 million in seed rounds to build a payment platform for Africa.
In May this year, Talk350 had raised $4 million in a seed funding round led by HAVAÍC. However, with the startup’s recent raise of an additional $3 million, the total investment raised so far is $7 million.
The latest investors in this new round include Allan Gray E2 Ventures (AGEV), Kalon Venture Partners, E4E Africa, Endeavor, current lead investor HAVAÍC and a number of angel investors including Tjaart van der Walt and Koenrad Jonker.
According to Talk360, it intends to use this new funding to launch a pan-African payment platform next year and increase its share of the VoIP market.
The payment platform will connect “all payment methods” across the continent, creating a diverse pool of localized payment methods, enabling international and local businesses to sell to African-based customers.
The company said in a statement, “The new platform will allow users across the continent to buy products and services using any currency and more than 160 payment methods. It will also be opened to other merchants”.
According to the Co-Founder of Talk360, despite the existing digital payment methods scattered across Africa, the startup is going to offer something more remarkable by offering micro-entrepreneurship and income-generating opportunities to users.
His words, “Our mission is to bridge distance and connect lives by offering reliable, affordable, and easy-to-use digital services, delivered in a localized manner to all communities, particularly emerging countries, so they can connect to the world
“But we’re not just solving socio-economic issues: we’re also offering micro-entrepreneurship and income generating opportunities to our growing network of agents across the country.”
The startup also has a network of agents, including PesaPoint in Kenya and Flash in South Africa, which enable users to purchase airtime vouchers from over 750,000 physical points of sale.
South African VC Firm Knife Capital Secures 2nd Close Of $50m African Expansion Fund
Knife Capital has secured a $50 million African series B expansion fund
Knife Capital, a South African venture capital investment firm that accelerates the international expansion of African innovation-driven businesses, has secured a $50 million African series B expansion fund.
Major South African Bank Standard Bank and the SA SME recently joined other investors, such as Mineworkers Investment Company, IFC, international development funders, and prominent family offices, to enable Knife Capital to complete the second close of its new $50 million African Series B expansion fund, Knife Fund III.
This round brings provisional commitments to just over $40 million and Knife Capital is finalizing the due diligence and legal process of a few remaining funders to close out on the $50 million target raise.
With the fund raised, Knife Capital aims to invest in the expansion of African innovation-driven companies and fill a critical follow-on funding gap.
Executive Equity Finance and Investments at Standard Bank Corporate and Investment Banking Akash Maharaj, Speaking on the commitment, stated that the bank believes in the positive impact that investment into early-stage, high-growth businesses can have on innovation, job creation, and economic development of South Africa.
His words, “We have partnered with a number of the leading investors in this space and are excited to add Knife Capital to our venture capital portfolio.
“With Standard Bank’s expansive African footprint, our suite of bespoke banking products, and extensive client base, we can facilitate the growth journey of businesses that scale internationally”.
Also commenting on Knife’s Capital recent funds raised, SA SME Fund CEO Ketso Gordhan said: “We nurture South Africa’s vast entrepreneurial spirit through long-term partnerships and are delighted to follow on into Fund III to continue supporting Knife Capital.”
Founded in 2010, Knife Capital started as the incarnation of the South African venture capital division of ‘Here Be Dragons’, a privately owned emerging market investment group.
The venture capital investment firm provides market access and accelerates invested traction by leveraging a dynamic partner network to provide solutions to the myriad of problems confronting sub-Saharan high-growth businesses.
Online Home Service Company SweepSouth Secures $11 Million in New Funding Round
South African online home cleaning service company SweepSouth has raised $11 Million in funding led by Alitheia IDF a private equity fund.
South African online home cleaning service company SweepSouth has raised $11 million in funding led by Alitheia IDF a private equity fund.
The startup has disclosed that the recent funds raised will be used to drive its expansion and grow its infrastructure, as it currently operates in cities in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt.
Commenting on the new fund it raised, Co-founder, Aisha Pandor said, “This new funding round is an important one for our team as we continue to scale in South Africa, and further grow our operations in Kenya, Nigeria, and Egypt. We’re excited to continue SweepSouth’s work in connecting customers with home service providers across the continent, building a platform that empowers domestic workers and local tradespeople.”
“We are particularly proud to have raised funding from Alitheia IDF, a female-led fund, and to have included more women investors on the cap table via a female-focused SPV during this round. We are excited about what this means for us going forward and thrilled to have Polo Leteka from Alitheia IDF join the board,”
Also commenting on its support for SweepSouth, Principal Partner at Alitheia IDF Fund, Polo Leteka, said: “We are proud to support SweepSouth’s growth as it expands its platform that substantially improves the financial and social outcomes for domestic workers across Africa, most of which are women.
“In the domestic services industry, which is notoriously informal and exploitative, SweepSouth’s model solves autonomy, security, increasing income for its service providers, and affordability and flexibility for its end users.
“AIF’s investment will enable the development of infrastructure and operations that will deliver growth for stakeholders – particularly domestic workers and local tradespeople at the base of the economic pyramid.”
Alitheia IDF is a pioneering private equity fund that identifies, invests in and grows SMEs led by gender-diverse teams to achieve superior financial returns and social impact for communities in Africa.
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