The last 12 months saw investment flowing into startups across the African continent, with exciting direct investment deals, venture capital funds weighing in, and “dragons” televising their financing choices. Here are Disrupt Africa’s favourite five funding deals of 2014.
1. Off Grid Electric – US$16 million
In early December Tanzanian off-grid solar power provider Off Grid Electric revealed it secured US$16 million, to support the company’s plans of bringing affordable power to one billion people across Africa. In Tanzania, Off Grid customers can access reliable power for US$0.20 per day.
The funding round was led by SolarCity and Zouk Capital, with Vulcan Capital – the private investment firm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen – also weighing in. All three had previously invested in Off Grid – the company having raised US$7 million earlier in the year.
2. Wyzetalk – US$750,000
In June, South African social enterprise platform Wyzetalk raised ZAR8 million (US$748,000) in series A funding through local financial services firm Clifftop Colony Capital Partners.
Clifftop revealed the round was substantially oversubscribed, with the firm selecting investors with the potential to contribute more than capital towards the growth of the business.
One of the funds to invest in Wyzetalk was seed capital firm Savannah Fund – usually focused on East Africa – with Wyzetalk marking one of two initial investments made by Savannah Fund in South Africa.
3. BuyRentKenya – undisclosed
In May Kenyan property classifieds site BuyRentKenya secured funding from One Africa Media (OAM). The amount was not disclosed, but BuyRentKenya chief executive officer (CEO) told Disrupt Africa the funds enabled the company to move forward faster than expected, while the insight of OAM was a critical benefit of the deal.
4. Irofit – US$600,000
Mobile payments startup Irofit in November secured US$600,000 in seed funding, enabling the company to launch in Nigeria.
The round was led by Nordic early stage venture capital (VC) firm Inventure, with Solinor, a major payments-industry software development company, and industry expert Rasheed Olaoluwa also participating.
IroFit’s seamlessly integrated mobile platform allows small businesses to accept card payments and organise growing operations through a mobile app and an EMV-certified card reader.
5. eShip – US$435,000
In December 18 year old entrepreneur Emile McLennan secured ZAR5 million (US$435,000) for his eShip business from Vinny Lingham, one of the investors appearing on South Africa’s Dragon’s Den television show.
Lingham offered ZAR1 million (US$87,000) for 35 per cent of the business upfront, followed by ZAR4 million (US$348,000) at a to-be-determined equity share in two year intervals.
eShip connect shippers with local transporters, allowing a consignor to create a listing for what needs shipping before transporters place competing bids. Once a winning bidder is selected, the consignor pays 50 per cent of the fee through eShip, after which the delivery takes place and final fees and feedback are exchanged through the site.