In Africa, startups fueled by a generation of tech-savvy youths are evolving very rapidly. As of 2021, 576 fintech startups had headquarters in Africa. The number of companies increased from 491 in 2019, a growth of 17.3 percent. Fintech is the most populated sector in Africa’s tech scene.
In 2021, Nigerian startups deploying tech tools to innovate ideas and businesses got investors’ attention with more than$1 billion in funding investment.
The funds raised go a long way in contributing immensely to the growth and development of the economy.
With the recent announcement of Flutterwave moving above the $3 billion valuations mark, we look at fast-rising unicorn startups in Africa.
GLOBAL UNICORN STARTUPS UPTICK
The value of unicorn is generally determined by how investors and venture capitalists believe they will grow and develop over time, so it all comes down to longer-term forecasting.
According to the CBInsight database, there are about 1,000 private companies around the world valued at $1 billion.
The report shows that the total number of the world’s billion-dollar companies jumped from 563 in 2020 to 957 in 2021 — clocking to hit 1,000 in 2022.
Below are the Top 7 most valuable Fintech startups in Africa:
- FLUTTERWAVE – $3 BILLION
Since 2016, Flutterwave has processed over 200 million transactions worth over $16 billion to date across 34 countries in Africa, serving over 900,000 businesses across the globe.
Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital are the two major investors backing up the company.
Founded by Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave, through its APIs, built customisable payment applications for businesses, banks and government organisations.
In 2021, the company raised $170 million to join the unicorn club and tripled in one year — now worth above $3 billion — to position itself as the leading fintech startup on the continent.
In December 2021, Flutterwave launched Spend, an African-focused remittances service, and immediately appointed Nigerian Grammy Award-winning international musician, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid as its global ambassador to further push the company’s brand among the Africans in the diaspora.
In January 2022, Flutterwave partnered AfroSport Network to broadcast the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations free-to-air from 9 January 2022 to 6 February 2022.
2. OPAY – $2 BILLION
OPay, founded in 2018, is a Chinese-backed and Africa-focused fintech company. It raised about $400 million Series C in August 2021, led by SoftBank Vision Fund, scaling its worth to $2 billion.
Olu Akanmu, former executive director at First City Monument Bank (FCMB), is the co-CEO of the firm. The company has attracted major investors in China, including Source Code Capital, Redpoint China, 3W Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Dragonball Capital.
OPay is a one-stop mobile-based platform for payment, transportation, food & grocery delivery, and other important services in your everyday life. Millions of users rely on OPay everyday to send and receive money, pay bills, and order food and groceries.
3. CHIPPERS CASH – $2 BILLION
Chippers cash is a fintech startup that facilitates cross-border payment across Africa. The venture-capital-backed fintech firm builds software to enable free and instant peer-to-peer cross-border payments.
It serves as a cross-border payments app, where over 3 million people send & receive money in and between Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and now available in United Kingdom (UK). Enjoy free local transfers and the lowest cross-border rates.
In 2021, the company hit a $2 billion valuation after raising its first Series C round of $100 million led by SVB Capital. The funding round was further strengthened by another $150 million in a Series C extension round led by Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange platform, summing the total of Series C capital to $250 million.
The company was founded in 2018 by two African entrepreneurs, Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujale, in San Francisco, to provide a no-fee peer-to-peer cross-border payment service in Africa via their app.
The company’s fintech services work in Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya.
4. WAVE – $1.7 BILLION
Wave is a Senegal-based mobile money provider created by two Americans (Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk).
The company promises low fees on accounts, deposits, bills payments and withdrawals for users who want to send money.
It raised $200 million in a Series A round valuing the company at $1.7 billion. The funding is the largest Series A round raised for the region, making it the first francophone African unicorn.
5. INTERSWITCH – $1 BILLION
In 2019, Interswitch reached unicorn status after Visa acquired a minority equity stake in the firm.
The Nigeria financial services company is headquartered in Lagos and founded by Mitchell Elegbe in 2002. The company pioneered the infrastructure for the financial ecosystem.
Today, Interswitch is a leading player with critical mass in Africa’s rapidly developing financial ecosystem and is active across the payments value chain, providing a full suite of omnichannel payment solutions.
- ESUSU – $1 BILLION
In January, Esusu broke the $1 billion valuation barrier as one of the few startups with a black founder to reach unicorn status.
The Nigerian fintech firm recently secured a $130 million Series B funding round to help build the racial wealth gap.
The funding round was led by Softbank, Vision Fund 2 with participation from Jones Feliciano Family Office, Lauder Zinterhofer Family Office, Schusterman Foundation, SoftBank Opportunity Fund, Related Companies, and Wilshire Lane Capital.
Founded in 2018 by Indian Samir Goel and Nigerian Abbey Wemimo, the fintech platform reports rental data to build tenants’ credit scores while helping property owners increase revenue.
7. FAWRY – $ 1 BILLION
Fawry became the first technology company in Egypt to get to the billion-dollar valuation in 2021. Listed on the Egyptian Exchange, the fintech company provides payment services to clients to consumers and businesses through more than 225,000 locations and a variety of channels.
Recently, it hit another milestone by surpassing the $2 billion market cap and becoming the fourth most valuable company listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX).
Founded by Ashraf Sabry in 2015, the company is one of the largest providers of alternative digital payments in Egypt.
Financial technology (Fintech) is used to describe new tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. Fintech now includes different sectors and industries such as education, retail banking, fundraising and nonprofit, and investment management to name a few.