The Top 10 Startup Companies in Africa

Africa has emerged as a hotbed of innovation, with startups disrupting industries and capturing the attention of investors worldwide. From fintech to agriculture, these startups drive economic growth and address critical challenges many communities face.

Many have successfully provided valuable solutions to people. Some have distinguished themselves and become more profitable and revenue-generating than their competitors. A few of these startups have reached the prestigious “unicorn” status by achieving a valuation of over $1 billion.

Africa’s biggest startups
As of March 2024, there are over 1,200 unicorns around the world. Popular unicorns include Airbnb, Facebook, and Google. Africa accounts for 0.4 per cent of the total global unicorns, with seven startups coming from the continent.

The term “unicorn status” has become a convenient way to gauge the value of a startup. However, other metrics can also be used, such as the amount of equity raised through fundraising, the number of fundraising rounds, the company’s public listing and market share, and its user base.

This article provides a comprehensive list of the top ten most valuable startups in Africa using the metrics of valuation and funds raised at specific valuations.

1. Flutterwave ($3bn)
Flutterwave, founded in 2016 by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Olugbenga Agboola, and Adeleke Adekoya, and headquartered in San Francisco and Nigeria, aims to make it easier for Africans to build global businesses that can make and accept any payment, across Africa and around the world.
The startup has cemented its position as a leading fintech company in Africa. With a market valuation of $3 billion, Flutterwave offers payment services across Nigeria, Ghana, and eight other African markets.

Boasting $474 million in total equity funding, Flutterwave’s latest Series D round, led by Avenir Growth Capital and B Capital Group, tripled its valuation in twelve months. Since its Unicorn round in March 2021, when Flutterwave processed 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion, the company now processes 200 million transactions worth over $16 billion.

This underscores its pivotal role in Africa’s digital economy. Additionally, Flutterwave’s strategic investments and acquisitions, including its $2.4 million infusion into Cinetpay and the acquisition of Disha, highlight its commitment to innovation and expansion.

Read also: Central Bank of Kenya approves LemFi remittance to Kenya, in partnership with Wapi Pay

2. Opay ($2bn)
Opay, spearheaded by Chinese billionaire Yahui Zhou and founded in 2018, has emerged as a powerhouse in Nigeria’s payment industry. Upon its most recent deal with Softbank, OPay was valued at $2 billion – it is believed that the value since then has increased to $2.67 billion.

Opay has recorded over 30 million downloads on the Google Play Store, reflecting its rapid growth and widespread adoption.
Having raised $570 million in total equity funding, Opay’s Series C round in August 2021 propelled its market valuation, positioning it as a formidable player in Africa’s fintech landscape.

The Nigerian neobank Nigeria, offers personal accounts, including a debit card, with all transactions managed from an iPhone or Android application.

3. Andela ($2bn)
Andela, founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs including Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Jeremy Johnson, has revolutionised talent acquisition in emerging markets. With a market valuation of $2 billion, Andela connects engineering talent in Africa with companies worldwide, bridging the global tech skills gap.
Boasting $381 million in total equity funding, Andela’s Series E round in September 2021 reaffirmed investor confidence in its mission to unlock Africa’s tech potential. The tech startup has the same market valuation of $2 billion as Opay, but Andela’s total equity funding is lower.

As a global talent network operating across five continents, Andela’s impact extends beyond Africa, empowering individuals and organisations to thrive in the digital age.

4. Wave Mobile ($1.7bn)
Wave is a US- and Senegal-based mobile money provider that promises low fees on accounts, deposits, bill payments, and withdrawals for users who want to send money. Co-founded by Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk in 2018, the startup has emerged as a leading mobile money platform in Africa.

The payment infrastructure also offers financial solutions to save, transfer, and borrow money, catering to the diverse needs of users across the continent.
In 2021, the Dakar-based mobile money company became valued at over $1 billion and was represented on the YC list of top companies. With a market valuation of $1.7 billion, it has already beaten out the telcos to become Senegal’s largest mobile money provider, and today, the majority of Senegal’s adult population uses Wave every month, which is its first market.

Since launching operations, the startup has raised $301.5 million in equity funding. With over 10 million downloads on the Google Play Store, Wave’s user-friendly interface and commitment to low fees position it for sustained growth and impact.

5. MNT-Halan ($1bn)
Founded by Ahmed Mohsen, Mohamed Aboulnaga, and Mounir Nakhla in 2017, MNT-Halan has rapidly gained prominence for its innovative approach to financial services. With a focus on digital lending and payment solutions, MNT-Halan addresses the needs of underserved communities, particularly in Egypt.
As one of the fastest-growing startups in the region, MNT-Halan has attracted significant attention from investors and stakeholders alike. Its most recent funding round came in January 2023, when it secured $400 million in equity and finance led by private equity firm Chimera Abu Dhabi, bringing its valuation to more than $1 billion.

Currently, the company’s total equity raised stands at $470 million.

MNT-Halan offers a diverse portfolio of financial and non-financial services ranging from lending, buy-now-pay-later, e-commerce, payments, and mobility to on-demand logistics. MNT-Halan plans to expand internationally after its growth in Egypt and progress on the swap agreement between Halan and Netherlands-based microlending platform MNT Investments.

It has more than 5 million customers in Egypt, of which 3.5 million are financial clients and 2 million are borrowers. About 1.3 million of the customers are active monthly.

6. Interswitch ($1bn)
Interswitch, founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, has played a pioneering role in digitising Africa’s economy and driving financial inclusion. The tech company is one of Africa’s largest electronic payments and infrastructure companies.

Interswitch powers much of the rails for Nigeria’s online banking system and is well known for its point-of-sale terminals, online consumer payment platforms, Quickteller and Verve – the biggest domestic debit card scheme in Africa (issuing over 35 million active cards since launch).

Although not disclosing the exact amount, Interswitch secured a $110 million joint investment from LeapFrog Investments and Tana Africa Capital to scale its digital payment services across the continent in 2022. Before that, its last disclosed funding round was in 2019, when Visa paid $200 million for a 20% stake in the company, which helped its valuation rise above $1 billion and attain unicorn status.

Headquartered in Lagos, Interswitch’s infrastructure and services have transformed payment systems and commerce across the continent, laying the foundation for digital innovation and economic growth.

7. Esusu Financial ($1bn)
Esusu Financial, co-founded by Samir Goel and Abbey Wemimo in 2018, has emerged as a leading credit-building startup with a market valuation of $1 billion. The startup helps renters build their credit histories and scores for free by reporting on-time rent payments to credit bureaus.
Property owners pay a fee per unit, per month, for this service because it increases on-time payments, encourages renters to stay in units longer, and looks good on property managers’ ESG reports.

With $145 million in total equity funding in January 2022, Esusu’s recent Series B round led by Softbank reaffirmed its status as a unicorn and highlighted its potential for growth and impact. In 2023, it grew its customer base to 400 property managers, lenders, and other financial institutions, up from 213 the year prior.

A leading investor who believed in Esusu’s mission early on was tennis great Serena Williams. In 2021, Serena Ventures participated in Esusu’s $10 million Series A funding round.

8. Fawry ($1bn)
Fawry, Egypt’s leading e-payment network, has emerged as a cornerstone of the country’s digital economy. Founded by Ashraf Sabry in 2008, Fawry has revolutionized how Egyptians transact, providing convenient and secure payment solutions across various channels.

With over 60,000 service points and a wide range of services, including bill payments, retail transactions, and mobile wallets, Fawry has become an integral part of daily life for millions of Egyptians.

It connects more than 35 million users through 166,000 service points across the country and can be used for over 850 services, ranging from utility bills and school tuition to traffic fines and insurance.

The company raised $122 million in private equity before going public, listing on the Egyptian Exchange in July 2019. In 2020, its valuation reached $1 billion, making Fawry Egypt’s first unicorn. In 2022, Forbes listed Fawry as one of the top 25 fintech companies in the Middle East for its banking and payment technology services.

9. Chipper Cash (<$1bn)
Chipper Cash, founded in 2017 by Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, has pioneered free instant cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa. The startup lets customers in five African countries, the U.S. and the U.K., pay bills, make cross-border fund transfers, and buy Bitcoin. It earns revenue through foreign exchange fees and crypto brokerage commissions.

SVB-backed African startup, Chipper Cash is reportedly considering a sale
In 2021, Chipper raised a $150 million Series C extension, valuing the startup at $2 billion, but has since cut its valuation, reportedly by 70 per cent, has engaged in three rounds of layoffs, reducing its headcount by nearly 175 from its peak of 450, and has drastically pulled back from its aggressive growth and expansion strategies across the continent.

While its market valuation stands below $1 billion, making it an erstwhile unicorn, Chipper Cash’s impact far exceeds its valuation, with over five million downloads of its app and widespread adoption across multiple African countries.

With $337.2 million in total equity funding, Chipper Cash has attracted support from diverse investors, including Alameda Research and Nevcaut Ventures.

10. Jumia ($0.52bn)
Jumia, launched in Nigeria in 2012 by Jérémy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec, has become Africa’s leading e-commerce platform, operating in multiple countries on the continent. While its valuation has fluctuated recently, Jumia’s impact on Africa’s digital economy remains undeniable. As of April 2024, Jumia has a market cap of $0.52 Billion.

In 2016, the company rose to become the continent’s first unicorn, valued at over $1 billion, and in April 2019, it went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), raising $196 million in net proceeds. Its share price, initially offered at $14.50, rose more than 200% in the first three trading sessions. But after reaching a peak of nearly $50 on May 1, 2019, the share value has continually declined and fluctuated.

Currently, the e-commerce platform has since spread to African countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Kenya, South Africa, and others, as well as expanding and launching platforms like Jumia Food, Jumia Travel, Jumia Deals, Jumia One, Jumia Pay, and others.

With platforms like Jumia Food, Jumia Travel, and Jumia Pay, the company has diversified its offerings and expanded its reach, driving e-commerce adoption and economic empowerment.

A bit of note
Africa’s startup ecosystem is thriving, thanks to its innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. The continent’s startups are committed to addressing pressing challenges, which makes the ecosystem vibrant and dynamic.

The startups listed represent a fraction of the groundbreaking ventures shaping Africa’s future. More startups and founders are stepping up to the challenge to create value, resulting in increased profitability.

As these startups continue to grow and scale, this list will likely have witnessed a significant adjustment, even in just one year from now.






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