Our 12 startups to watch in 2020 – how did we do?


Back at the start of the year, Disrupt Africa unveiled its 12 African startups to watch in 2020. How did we get on with our predictions?

Egyptian trucking marketplace Trella

We said: “The team that told Disrupt Africa they are taking growth “step-by-step”, and not making any hasty moves – so we’re eagerly anticipating the next set of well-planned moves the startup makes.”

What actually happened: The startup has been busy expanding, having launched in Saudi Arabia in January and Pakistan in December.

Verdict: Hit

Egyptian fantasy sports platform Eksab

We said: “Eksab is looking to tap into the MENA region’s love for football by providing users with exciting and engaging mobile games, with the aim of becoming the leading fantasy sports site in the region.”

What actually happened: Solid growth, and in November raised US$500,000 in funding to help it reach more football fans across the Middle East and Africa.

Verdict: Hit

Tunisian fintech startup Kaoun

We said: “Kaoun has already raised funding from two angel investors, and secured key partnerships with two Tunisian banks and the country’s National Digital Certification Agency.  This startup is definitely worth watching.”

What actually happened: Continues to grow and sign new bank customers, and we are awaiting big news early in the new year.

Verdict: Hit

Rwandan fintech startup Exuus

We said: “The startup is taking traditional savings groups online in a bid to smooth processes and help low income communities become more financially resilient.”

What actually happened: Was one of 13 Africa-focused fintech startups that took part in CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2020, which helps companies focusing on financial inclusion to scale.

Verdict: Hit

Kenyan digital addressing solution MPost

What we said: “Simple but effective, MPost has developed a platform that enables the conversion of mobile numbers into official virtual addresses, which allows notifications to be sent to clients whenever they get mail through their postal addresses.”

What actually happened: Has seen huge growth and now has over 25,000 customers in Kenya.

Verdict: Hit

Kenyan insurance-for-mobility platform RideSafe

What we said: “Take motorbike taxis, affordable emergency response, and blockchain – mix them together with a bucket of innovation and you get RideSafe.  The Kenyan startup offers an emergency response service for public motorcycle taxis, that utilises a micro-insurance financing model running on a decentralised blockchain application.”

What actually happened: Closed a key partnership deal with an insurance company, with which it has developed a boda boda product that will see two-wheel taxi drivers access full-time emergency response and medical cover services. Will launch the product in January.

Verdict: Hit

South African vehicle financing startup FlexClub

What we said: “We’re interested to see how FlexClub fares in 2020, after a solid start since launching in 2018. The South African startup allows users to purchase vehicles which are then matched with Uber drivers who pay a weekly rental charge to the investor.”

What actually happened: Launched a service allowing fractional investment in ride-hailing fleets, and partnered car hire company Avis to pilot “Drive Now, Buy Later” car subscriptions for a limited number of private members across Johannesburg. Has big plans for 2021.

Verdict: Hit

South African reg-tech startup Intergreatme

What we said: “We get what all the hype is about. Intergreatme has developed a web and app platform that digitises verified personal information for over 25 million credit-active South Africans; for streamlined use across businesses and other organisations.”

What actually happened: Not a peep. May still be going great guns, but given the radio silence we’re going to have to call it a miss until we hear more.

Verdict: Miss

South African insurtech startup Pineapple

What we said: “The startup has been going from strength to strength since launching, raising seed funding, and taking part in Google’s Launchpad Africa accelerator and the US-based Hartford Insurtech Hub’s accelerator. Then in 2019, it won the single biggest prize at the annual VentureClash challenge in the United States (US), securing US$1.5 million from a US$5 million prize fund. With the milestones rolling in, we’re sure 2020 will be a stellar year for this startup.”

What actually happened: Less dramatic, but a solid year from Pineapple. The startup moved into the car insurance space, partnered with Old Mutual Insure, launched a rewards programme, doubled the size of its team, and grew its community to over 50,000 members.

Verdict: Hit

Malian fintech startup OKO Finance

What we said: “The startup raised pre-seed funding of US$300,000; but is now looking to raise US$1.5 million in order to grow more quickly. We feel confident they’ll get the backing, and we’re looking forward to seeing them scale their solution to more farmers and more markets in 2020.”

What actually happened: Is still raising that money (news promised soon), but still had a great year. More than 1,800 farmers registered for its micro-insurance product, and OKO also ran pilots programmes in Uganda. It is also expanding into more crops and targeting a lot more farmers in 2021.

Verdict: Hit

Senegalese logistics startup Yobante Express

What we said: “At Disrupt Africa, we’re really excited about Senegalese startup Yobante Express, which has developed an innovative relay-based way of tackling last-mile deliveries.”

What actually happened: Went from US$50,000 average monthly revenues in 2019 to over US$120,000 in 2020, and is now delivering more than 20,000 parcels per month. Closed a US$500,000 seed round, and is in the process of raising more. Continues to expand across the continent, and now has more than 50 full-time employees.

Verdict: Hit

Nigerian e-health startup 54gene

What we said: “Nigeria’s 54Gene means serious business: it is building the first African DNA biobank. The startup is positioned to build the largest database of genomic and phenotypic consented data of Africans. And for us, there’s no doubt that this startup merits a spot on our must-watch list for 2020.”

What actually happened: Was one of the year’s fundraising success stories, banking a US$15 million Series A round to help it scale operations and launch new initiatives. Did that in spades (see here, here, here, here and here)

Verdict: Hit

> Overall total <

11 Hits

1 Miss

Turns out we’re pretty good at this! Keep an eye out over the next few days for our 12 African tech startups to watch in 2021. 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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