Our 12 startups to watch in 2016 – how did we do?


Back at the start of the year, Disrupt Africa unveiled its 12 African startups to watch in 2016. A risky enterprise indeed. But how did we get on with our predictions?

Egyptian e-commerce startup Yaoota

We said: Raised US$2.7 million in funding – the largest investment in an Egyptian tech startup to date – from the Abu Dhabi-based KBBO Group to aid its expansion across Africa and the Middle East; so 2016 promises to be an exciting year for the startup.”

What actually happened: Expanded to the UAE and Saudi Arabia on the back of the funding, and now eyeing Sub-Saharan Africa. Gets 600,000 users each month.

Verdict: Hit

Moroccan e-health startup DabaDoc

We said: “In September, DabaDoc launched in Nigeria and South Africa, as part of a rapid pan-continental expansion push; and by that time featured doctors in 72 different specialties across 50 cities.”

What actually happened: Still pursuing an aggressive expansion strategy across North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Verdict: Hit

Kenyan fintech startup Shield Finance

We said: “The startup is still looking to raise a seed round of US$350,000 for equity, which will be used to hire sales staff and ramp up its technical capacity in readiness to scale.”

What actually happened: Has pivoted to an app-based model, and developed a turnkey telecom subscriber lending platform and partnered with one telecoms firm.

Verdict: Touch and go

Kenyan agri-tech startup WeFarm

We said: “Launched in November last year, WeFarm already has over 38,000 users, and is targeting more than 500,000 active farmers by the end of 2016.”

What actually happened: A year of significant growth and expansion to other markets. Also won The Venture competition and raised funding.

Verdict: Hit

Rwandan on-demand motorcycle taxi app SafeMotos

We said: “The startup has raised US$85,000, and plans to hit 400 trips per day in the next couple of months.”

What actually happened: Closed a convertible note funding round, has 12,000 subscribers and has completed 50,000 trips.

Verdict: Hit

Kenyan transport safety startup CladLight

We said: “Hopes to mass produce Smart Jackets for motorcycle assembly plants, insurance companies and bike retail stores.”

What actually happened: All quiet on the CladLight front.

Verdict: Miss

South African recruitment startup Giraffe

We said: “Launched in February this year, by December the startup had hit 70,000 users only 10 months after launching.”

What actually happened: Won the Seedstars World competition, and then raised funding from Omidyar Network.

Verdict: Hit

South African on-demand home cleaning startup SweepSouth

We said: “SweepSouth said the funding would enable it to accelerate its growth further and scale rapidly – so this startup is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2016.”

What actually happened: Raised another funding round, launched a mobile app, and expanded to Durban.

Verdict: Hit

South African e-health startup Vula Mobile

We said: “Initially backed by grants from the likes of the SAB Foundation, DG Murray Trust, The Innovation Hub and the Shuttleworth Foundation, Vula Mobile is currently raising its first round of investment.”

What actually happened: Has chosen not to take on equity but has won a number of awards and cash grants, expanded into Namibia, and diversified its offering. Has helped almost 7,000 patients.

Verdict: Hit

Ghanaian real estate startup meQasa

We said: “Hit the headlines having raised US$500,000 in funding from VC firm Frontier Digital Ventures to boost its bid to become Africa’s Zillow. With the funding, meQasa promised to ramp up the development of its mobile and web service experiences, and expand its sales and marketing outreach, so 2016 will be a busy year for them.”

What actually happened: Steadily building its customer base and expanding its product. More to come.

Verdict: Hit

Nigerian e-commerce startup DealDey

We said: “Promising to become “the strongest e-commerce site in Africa”, DealDey has plans to scale rapidly to all of Nigeria’s major cities, then to Ghana, and across the continent.”

What actually happened: Acquired by Ringier Africa and Silvertree Internet Holdings.

Verdict: Hit

Nigerian ride-sharing startup GoMyWay

We said: “Having initially launched in Nigeria earlier this year, GoMyWay quickly announced plans to expand to South Africa, followed by Kenya and Ghana.”

What actually happened: All gone very quiet, and not clear if any expansion actually happened.

Verdict: Miss

> Overall total <

9 Hits

2 Misses

1 Touch and go

Turns out we’re not too bad at this! Keep an eye out over the next five days for our 12 African tech startups to watch in 2017. A very happy new year to all.


About Author

Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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