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Opay, Flutterwave Lead Africa in New Global Fintech Unicorn Ranking

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Flutterwave - Investors King

A recent ranking of fintech unicorn companies globally reveals Opay, Flutterwave and Interswitch as top fintech companies in Africa with market valuations of $2bn, $1bn and $1bn respectively.

The ranking was supplied by CFTE, a digital learning platform with exclusive insights from leaders in the technology space.

The ranking accommodated companies that are both publicly listed and companies that are privately owned with Egypt-based company, Fawry (listed) – ranked above OPay in the report.

A number of listed companies are also notably spread across the list with Visa and Mastercard – both listed – leading with $419bn and $323bn respectively.

The only companies with African origin that are not listed companies are OPay, Flutterwave and Interswitch – all of which are Unicorns in the paytech sector of fintech.

OPay

Valuation: US$2+ billion

OPay became a Unicorn in 2021 after SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led a US$400 million funding round in the company. The funding pivoted the startup’s valuation to US$2 billion. This investment was also SoftBank’s debut investment in Africa.

The paytech startup provides mobile money solutions with physical debit cards, POS machines, and offline banking solutions and savings facilities.

Flutterwave

Valuation: US$1+ billion

Although based in San Francisco, this paytech company primarily serves Nigeria and some African countries. Flutterwave became a unicorn after raising US$170 million in a Series C that took place in March 2021. The funding round came pivoted valuation to US$1 billion. In February 2022, the company closed another funding round in Series D with $250m.

The startup has also announced a number of partnerships including partnerships with MTN Group, 9PSB, and Currencycloud.

Interswitch

Valuation: US$1 billion

The digital payments company became a unicorn after Visa secured a minority stake in the company in 2019. This transaction pivoted valuation to $1bn.

According to the company, the deal was valued at $200m for 20% equity in the company. Interswitch first had an Initial Public Offering plan in 2016 and another in 2020 which never closed.

Listed Company

Fawry (Egypt)

Valuation: US$2+ billion

Because it is a listed company, Fawry can’t claim the unicorn status as only startups with $1+bn can claim the title. However, in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, it is considered as one.

Fawry offers a wide range of B2B and B2C payment services, and trades on the EGX with a market cap of about US$1.5 billion as of 6 October 2021.

 

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5000 Startups From Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa Completed Google Training Programme

No less than 5000 startups from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have completed the Google Hustle Academy training programme.

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No less than 5000 startups from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have completed the Google Hustle Academy training programme. The programme was designed to help business owners learn soft skills that complement their hard talents.

Investors King learnt that Google received more than 10,000 applications for this year’s edition. 

It could be recalled that earlier this year, Google announced a plan to train 5,000 African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with participants coming from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. 

Google noted that participants will go through a training academy where they will undergo five days of hands-on training and receive 3,000 hours of training on fundamental aspects of business to help them navigate the challenges faced by SMEs in Africa.

According to the press statement released by Google Head of Brand & Reputation, Sub Sahara Africa, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde after the completion of the training, participants attended a five-day virtual boot camp where they learned how to define their business strategy, increase sales, and how to pitch for investor funding. 

While dividing them into 23 cohorts, they were also trained in digital marketing and effective financial planning.

This is in addition to the one-on-one mentoring sessions received by each participant. The mentoring session was handled by a network of trained mentors and coaches. 

Meanwhile, Aderemi-Makinde further revealed that Google has launched a new speaker series in which successful African entrepreneurs share lessons and advice. 

He added that Google will continue to do more to help African entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive.

“(The) speaker series will allow Small and Medium Businesses to get insight from business owners from an array of sectors, focusing on the issues, themes and subjects they face on a regular basis,” he said. 

He stated that Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the global economy while noting that in Africa, they account for an estimated 80 per cent of jobs. 

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Nigeria Startup Act to Boost Youth Empowerment – SSA to Buhari

Nigeria Startup Act to advance technology innovation and increase youths empowerment

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The Senior Special Assistant to  President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Nigeria Startup Act will increase youth empowerment and advance the country’s technological landscape. 

Oswald Guobadia, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation and the Lead Startup Act, pushed for the states to adopt and apply the law. 

Guobadia noted in a statement that each state’s adoption of the Act would increase youth empowerment and advance the tech ecosystem.

“The youth are key players for the country’s growth, and it is important that they contribute to the impact of the Act by supporting, raising awareness of it, and promoting its adoption in their various states because the law is intended to unlock the potential of the digital and promote ecosystem growth,” he said.

Guobadia recalled that states like Yobe, Ekiti, Anambra, Lagos, Zamfara, Edo, and Kaduna had expressed interest in and taken action to adopt the Act in order to benefit from it.

Investors King understands that the Nigerian president signed the bill on October 19, 2022, to stimulate activity in the technology sector and bring about the long-term development of the ecosystem.

The presidential aide went on to say that the Act gives every state the chance to create a thriving startup ecosystem and maintain its competitiveness. Some of the Act’s provisions include fostering the development and growth of technology-related talent and providing an enabling environment for the establishment, development and operation of startups in Nigeria.

He added that the act would help close the gap between Nigeria’s regulators and startups, which would then ensure that the laws were clear. 

He says that “The Act will also bridge the gap between startups and regulators in order to ensure that the laws are clear and beneficial to those in the technology ecosystem. With state adoption, one can anticipate a thriving tech ecosystem, the emergence of new startups, and clearer regulations in the near future.”

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American Theranos Founder Imprisoned for more than 11 Years

Elizabeth Holmes has been sentenced to 11 years and three months in imprisonment for fraud

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Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, America’s privately held corporation, has been sentenced on three counts on charges bothering on investor fraud and one count of conspiracy.

The California judge who sentenced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to 11 years and three months in prison for defrauding investors in a defunct blood-testing startup confirmed the scandal valued around $9bn, Investors King reports.

United States District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, sentenced Holmes on three counts of investor fraud and one count of conspiracy. A jury convicted Holmes, 38, in January following a trial that spanned three months.

The judge set Holmes’s surrender date for April. Her lawyers are expected to ask the judge to allow her to remain free on bail during her appeal.

Assistant US Attorney Jeff Schenk told the judge before he handed down the sentence that a 15-year sentence would be “making a statement that the ends don’t justify the means”.

However, Holmes’s lawyer Kevin Downey pleaded leniency for Holmes at the hearing, attempting to convince that unlike someone who committed a “great crime,” she was not motivated by greed.

Holmes had asked in court papers for a more lenient sentence of 18 months of home confinement, followed by community service, urging the judge not to make her a “martyr to public passion.”

Prosecutors said at trial that Holmes misrepresented Theranos’s technology and finances, including by claiming that its miniaturised blood testing machine was able to run an array of tests from a few drops of blood. The company secretly relied on conventional machines from other companies to run patients’ tests, prosecutors said.

Ahead of her sentencing, prosecutors had said a 15-year sentence was necessary to deter Holmes and others from fraud. Although, divergent opinions emerged thereafter.

Her crimes according to the authority “damaged the trust and integrity” on which Silicon Valley’s startup economy relies.

Federal probation office had recommended a nine-year prison sentence, according to court papers, only for Davila to adjudicate 11 years.

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